Why is Concrete Bad for the Environment?

28 March 2023

Concrete is one of the many aspects of construction that is now long-overdue some changes. Some companies are looking into how we can make it more eco-friendly, such as Carbonaide. In this article, we take a look at Carbonaide and the impact of concrete.

Carbon Negative Concrete

Carbonaide is a company set on creating a pilot production line of carbon-negative concrete using industrial side streams and carbon dioxide capture, utilisation, and storage technology. The company is a spin-out from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland aiming to disrupt the USD 130 billion/year global market of precast concrete.

Fortunately for them, they raised 1.8 million in seed funding recently. Raised through a range of different sources, the money will allow them to start an automated production line in Finland. With its unit and fully operational value chain, Carbonaide can mineralise up to five tons of CO2 per day and increase production by 100-fold of its carbon-negative concrete products.

Why is Concrete Bad for the Environment?

Cement is made through very high temperatures. These are achieved by burning fossil fuels. For this reason, the concrete industry is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. One tonne of ordinary Portland cement creates 800-900 Kilograms of CO2 emissions.

With legislations changing all the time, and the world becoming more aware of global warming, changes to crucial issues such as these are essential for the future of construction.

Why is Concrete Such a Popular Construction Material?

Concrete is used because it is durable and versatile. For both commercial and domestic settings, it is long-lasting and reliable. This means that it offers the most cost effective method of construction and shows why it has continued to be the most dominant material in modern building standards.

What is the Solution?

Well, companies such as Carbonaid’s solution is based on an effective carbonation method, which binds carbon dioxide into precast concrete using an automated system at atmospheric pressure. The technology can halve the CO2 emissions of traditional Portland cement concrete by reducing the required cement content and mineralizing CO2 into concrete.

“We have demonstrated in the pilot unit that our technology is capable of reducing the CO2 emissions of conventional concrete by 45%. Last autumn, we demonstrated lowering our products’ carbon footprint to -60 kg/m3 by replacing Portland cement with slag. Our first pilot unit had limited capacity, so we’re grateful to our investors for the chance to upscale our technology to a factory-sized pilot and demonstrate the technology full-scale,” says Tapio Vehmas, CEO of Carbonaide.

“Our goal at Carbonaide is to create a more sustainable future with cutting-edge tech that doesn’t just reduce the carbon emissions of construction materials like concrete, but that traps more CO2 than they emit throughout their lifetime. It is very natural that the constructed environment becomes a CO2 sink as it is the largest volume of man-made material,” continues Vehmas.

With solutions such as this, we could see huge improvements to our current practices. Obviously, this is reliant on companies such as Carbonaide continuing to find the correct funding to help them push forward with their business model.

“As new innovations take ground, the demand for low-carbon products will likely increase. New technologies, such as Carbonaide, provide the means for the industrial-scale production of affordable low-carbon products. We’re happy to support Carbonaide scale up its production and realize the world’s first CO2 curing integration to a fully automated precast concrete production line,” says Juho Hiltunen, CEO of Lakan Betoni Oy, one of the concrete companies that invested in Carbonaide.