Turning carbon dioxide into concrete

An Australian firm has developed a new technology that can harness carbon dioxide emissions and transform them into eco-friendly building products. It has been operating a pilot plant since the beginning of 2016.

Mineral Carbon International (MCI) officially unveiled its pilot plant to the public on Friday at the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources in Australia.

The mineral carbonation research pilot plant works by reacting carbon emissions captured at Orica’s nearby Kooragang Island operations with minerals, permanently converting the CO2 into solid carbonates.

“This mimics but greatly speeds up the natural weathering by rainfall which produces common types of rocks over millions of years,” MCI said.

The technology has the potential to dramatically improve the carbon footprint of the building materials.

“Both carbonates and silica by-products have the potential to be used in building products such as concrete and plasterboard to create green construction materials,” explained The University of Newcastle.

According to Orica’s chief scientists Jez Smith, the MCI technology could even one day help entire supply chains lower their carbon intensity.

As the Guardian reported, MCI hopes to be producing 20,000 to 50,000 tonnes of the bonded materials for building companies by 2020, and it anticipates that the process will be economically viable even without a high carbon price.

“There is a big demand among consumers for green building products,” said CEO of MCI Marcus Dawe.

“Like the adoption of renewables in energy production, our technology aims to help decarbonize industries like cement, steel and chemical production.”

 

Image credit: Washington State Department of Transportation via Flickr

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