Canadian Consulting Engineer

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Carbon captured in concrete reaps double benefits

Build and save greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.


Carbon capture technologies have been generally associated with huge multi-million dollar operations that store the emissions underground.

However, entrepreneurs are finding smaller scale technologies that enable the carbon to be sequestered in concrete, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions while improving building materials.

A start-up company based in Calgary recently received $500,000 from the Alberta Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation’s Grand Challenge to develop a technology that can captures carbon dioxide emission from a source like an oil sands operation.

Carbon Upcycling Technologies, led by president Apoorv Sinha, uses an IP-protected process in a mobile unit to capture carbon dioxide and join the CO2 with graphite to make graphene nanoparticles. The nanoparticles can be used in a variety of ways, such as to increase the electrical conductivity of plastics, produce water purification membranes and manufacture high-performance electronics.

But according to an article in Alberta Oil Magazine, the 24-year old Sinha is first focusing on using the technology to make a lighter and stronger concrete: “Right now our main focus is the cement and concrete industry because cement and concrete usually has a lot of [admixtures] in it. So, the objective is always to capture CO2 as a feedstock and then create nanoparticles that we can sell to the market.”

Sinha says that in future it’s possible that a waste product like asphalt could also be used as the feedstock for the process.

Another Canadian company, CarbonCure Technologies based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has also found a way to sequester carbon dioxide in concrete and is already partnering with concrete manufacturers across the country. Its patented process captures carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources and locks it into masonry products, improving their material properties and reducing the manufacturer’s production costs.