Every year, billions of tons of cement are made, which has a huge impact on carbon emissions. The process of making cement uses a lot of energy and produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. By some calculations, the impact on global production of annual cement production is startlingly high 8 percent.
Cement is a big impact material due to its ubiquity in construction
Which means that even if we achieve a fairly small, mundane reduction of carbon dioxide, the impact would be enormous. This has led a number of startups to work on creating more environmentally friendly alternatives to cement, a major contributor to carbon emissions. One such company, Terra CO2, has raised $46 million in funding to help scale its operations. Since then, the company revealed they invented a concrete substitute. The substitute is made from readily available, cheap materials and produces far less carbon emissions than traditional cement.
Terra CO2 wants to disrupt the industry with low carbon cement
A startup company is working on a new process to make concrete. The new process partly replaces Portland cement, which contains limestone, with silicate rocks. These rocks are in aggregate mines. The company believes that this new process will help to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions from concrete production. This is a story about how two people found a way to reduce CO2 emissions by creating a powder out of tiny glass spheres.
Terra’s secret to low carbon cement is a material that replaces fly ash
This company makes a product that replaces fly ash. Because fly ash is a waste product from coal manufacturing, as coal plants close, there is less fly ash available. The company made its product with clean energy and zero emissions.
To make the product quickly, they needed it to be low cost. Since cement is cheaper than other similar products, it does not require any changes to the infrastructure. The product has been tested and works well.
Terra also found a way to use concrete companies’ waste
Ironically Terra has found a way to use concrete companies’ waste products. They create a new product after which they plan to sell it back to the concrete companies. This increases the incentive for concrete companies to make the switch to using Terra’s product.
The company is running two small pilot plants and its first commercial plant today. The commercial plant will be in Denver. It will be able to provide the cementitious material used in the metro area. The company estimates that if half of the concrete industry in the U.S. switched to their product, it would save nearly six million metric tons of emissions each year.
Finding a new, environmentally friendly binder is next
The company is even trying to find a way to bind concrete together without using Portland cement, which is harmful to the environment. They are hoping to find a way to do this that will not require changing the mixing and transportation process of concrete.
ABOUT TERRA CO2
Terra CO2 is the scalable low carbon alternative for cement production. Responsible for 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions, cement is used in producing concrete, the world’s second-most used material after water. Their unique technology allows Terra to create cementitious materials from a wide variety of feedstocks or waste products. The effect is to reduce the greenhouse emissions caused by cement production. Terra’s proprietary Opus suite of cementitious materials is a proven supplement and alternative to Portland cement. Validated by third parties, Terra’s materials perform equal to or better than traditional cementitious products.
Terra CO2 is headquartered in Golden, Colorado. For more information, please visit: https://terraco2.com/
ABOUT BREAKTHROUGH ENERGY VENTURES
Founded by Bill Gates and backed by many of the world’s top business leaders, BEV has raised more than $2 billion in committed capital to support cutting-edge companies that are leading the world to net-zero emissions. It is a purpose-built investment firm that is seeking to invest, launch and scale global companies that will eliminate GHG emissions throughout the economy as soon as possible. The company seeks true breakthroughs and is committed to supporting these entrepreneurs and companies by bringing to bear a unique combination of technical, operational, market and policy expertise.
BEV is a part of Breakthrough Energy, a network of investment vehicles, philanthropic programs, policy advocacy and other activities committed to scaling the technologies we need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Visit www.breakthroughenergy.org to learn more.
Anna Lauer is a writer, gardener, and homesteader living in rural Wisconsin. She has written for Mother Earth News, Grit, and Hobby Farms magazines. Anna is writing a new book about growing your food for free and an ultimate guide to producing food at little to no cost. When she’s not writing or gardening, Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters.