CO₂ Utilization for More Sustainable Ready Mix Concrete

Dr. Sean Monkman is CarbonCure’s Senior Vice President of Technology, overseeing research and intellectual property activities. In a recent webinar for the American Concrete Institute (ACI) Mexico’s North-East Chapter, he discussed the importance in considering sustainable concrete solutions in Mexico.

There are around 1,100 ready mix plants in Mexico, producing approximately 40 million m3 concrete per year. Mexican ready mix producers have an opportunity to lead a positive impact in an industry known to be conservative, drive value over and above “green” benefits, and improve cement efficiency. 

The Advantages Of Using Concrete – And Debunking Some Myths

The negative impact of concrete has been widely publicized. The sector accounts for around 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions and, to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement on climate change, emissions will need to fall at least 16% by 2030.

However, perspective is critical. Looking at the 27 materials on which industrialized societies depend, the difference in scale is clear: there is two thirds more concrete in the world than the other 26 materials put together. Concrete has a large carbon footprint, in part, because we use so much of it.

Scale of Concrete Production

Source: “27 Materials on Which Industrialized Society Depends.” Adapted from Ashby (2013) Materials and the environment, eco-informed material choice. ISBN 978-0-12-385971-6

Producers know that concrete has many advantageous qualities. It is low cost and can be produced anywhere, it’s resilient in conditions where other materials fail, it can be recycled as aggregate or road base, and it’s highly versatile. 

By adopting innovative, environmentally-friendly practices and technologies, concrete can be the ideal material for sustainability purposes.

Driving Value For Producers

CarbonCure provides a way to do this through a process of CO2 utilization – adding CO2 to fresh concrete while it is mixed and batched. This has no negative impact on compressive strength. One large regional producer reduced cement content by 10% in a high performance mix and achieved compressive strength increases at both seven and 28 days. 

sustainable concrete in action
CarbonCure’s technology (CCT) enabled a large regional producer to reduce cement content in this high-performance mix without sacrificing strength.

Extensive testing has also verified that there are no adverse impacts on durability. This was found to be the case in studies conducted by the University of Toronto, the U.S. State Department of Transportation, and others. 

With CarbonCure, producers can easily supply low-carbon concrete and position themselves as a more sustainable solution.

The Market Impact Of CarbonCure

CarbonCure is used in nearly 300 ready mix plants worldwide. Since launching in Canada in 2016, the technology has been adopted across the U.S. and international expansion is focused on regions including Asia, Australia, and Mexico. 

CO2 utilization is still a relatively new way to produce concrete and producers stand to benefit in three key ways: 

1. Improved profitability

Decrease costs and improve business operations with a proven technology that reduces cement content by as much as 7%, and requires no upfront capital investment.

2. Business Growth

Gain a competitive advantage and win new business in the growing green building market with better, more sustainable concrete.

3. Easy implementation

Get started quickly with an easy-to-implement solution that can be retrofitted into any concrete plant and has no upfront costs, backed by CarbonCure’s commitment to your success. 

Building Value And Expanding Benefit Into The Future

Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and LinkedIn are among a growing number of companies that have made commitments to become carbon neutral in the next decade or two. As they grow and build new stores, offices, and data centres, sustainable concrete will be on the agenda — and producers should act now so that they can be a part of that conversation.

CarbonCure can be used effectively across a range of building types, as showcased by projects like 725 Ponce, LinkedIn’s Middlefield Campus, and the flagship McDonald’s in Chicago. In the U.S., more than 300,000 m3 of CarbonCure concrete was poured per month from July to August of 2020. These numbers will continue to rise as international expansion gathers pace.

Interested in discussing sustainable ready mix concrete in Mexico? Get in touch with our team to learn about implementing CarbonCure within your organization.

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