Innovation That Matters

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Bio-graphene: a game-changer for cleaner concrete

Property & Construction

An additive made from forestry waste strengthens concrete without generating extra emissions

Spotted: By now, many of us are aware of the carbon cost of concrete. Concrete is responsible for an astounding eight per cent of all emissions, with each pound of concrete releasing almost a pound of carbon dioxide. Nova Scotia-based AlterBiota is working to change this.

AlterBiota’s innovation is to use a natural hydrous Bio Graphene Oxide (hBGO) admixture to strengthen concrete in place of extra Portland cement. Portland cement is a key component of concrete, and its creation is a highly carbon-intensive process. By minimising the volume of cement needed, manufacturers can drastically reduce the final carbon footprint of their concrete.

The hBGO is made using byproducts from the forestry industry, allowing the biomass-derived carbon to be permanently locked up in concrete infrastructure. In addition, the hBGO is manufactured in a circular, water-based, “one-pot-synthesis process” that leaves virtually no waste. The byproducts of the process include hydrogen, which is used as fuel, and industrial CO2, which can be sold for use in greenhouses and beverage production.

The use of hBGO also allows concrete producers to benefit from carbon credits associated with cement avoidance, which is likely to increase its take-up.

AlterBiota recently closed a CAD$4 million (around €2.7 million) seed financing round led by Invest Nova Scotia. The funds will be used for industrial product trials, the construction of a commercial-scale plant, and to commercialise the company’s concrete additive.

Other recent innovations hoping to tackle the carbon cost of concrete include a circular process for manufacturing cement and the use of greener kilns in cement manufacture.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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