Exclusive interview with CarbonCure on reimagining CO₂
Canadian corporation CarbonCure Technologies is reimagining carbon dioxide (CO2) in the battle to help solve climate change, retrofitting concrete plants with a technology that recycles waste CO2 into a valuable material to help make more environmentally friendly concrete.
Overall, cement production creates around 5% of the world’s CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, but the ability to reduce cement will prevent additional CO2 from being produced. As a result, CarbonCure’s CO2-utlisation technology is one of a select few commercially available solutions that are expected to reduce global emissions by more than 10% and create $1 trillion in new carbon-based products annually by 2030.
In an exclusive interview, gasworld spoke to CEO Robert Niven about CarbonCure’s technology and its role in the wider climate change debate.
What can you tell us about CarbonCure’s technology and how has it evolved?
CarbonCure is a leader in an exciting new class of innovations, known as CO2-utilisation technologies, that consume industrial CO2 to manufacture valuable products. It is also the only commercial CO2-utilisation technology serving the concrete sector.
First, purified and liquefied CO2 is delivered to our concrete producer partner’s plants in pressurised tanks. Then, our technology then precisely injects the recycled CO2 into wet concrete whilst it’s being mixed and, once injected, the CO2 becomes chemically converted into a solid mineral and is permanently captured within the concrete.
On the whole, ready-mixed concrete producers have seen an average strength improvement of approximately 10% when comparing concrete injected with CO2 to the control.
The low-cost retrofit technology permanently sequesters CO2 during the concrete manufacturing process to make greener and stronger concrete. Over 40 concrete manufacturing plants have installed CarbonCure’s technology across North American within the last three years – and we are growing rapidly.
Image: CarbonCure's technology is installed in more than 40 concrete plants across Canada and the US, with plans for global expansion.
Which industrial gas suppliers do you source the CO2 from?
CarbonCure creates a new market for industrial CO2 supply within the concrete industry – the world’s most abundant manufactured commodity.
Currently, CO2 is supplied to our concrete customers by independent industrial gas suppliers and has ongoing commercial supply and research partnerships with most of the major multinational industrial gas suppliers, as well as several regional distributors in the US and Canada.
The technology can use CO2 from any industrial source and is basically selected by whatever is most cost effective for the gas supplier.
What opportunities are there for other companies within the industrial gas industry to get involved?
In addition to supplying industrial CO2 to concrete producers equipped with CarbonCure’s technology, we also actively develop new strategic corporate partnerships to accelerate growth in existing and new geographic markets, such as Europe.
Periodically, we also collaborate with corporate partners to commercialise new applied technologies (e.g. CarbonCure and its partners, including Tier One industrial gas giant Praxair, Inc., were selected as one of 27 semi-finalists in the global $20m NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE in October last year. The Carbon XPRIZE challenges teams to develop breakthrough technologies that convert the most CO2 into one or more products with the highest net value).
Image: CarbonCure Technologies Inc. is competing in the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE challenge, and is partnering with several multinationals players from across the supply chain including industrial gas, cement and concrete.
You are currently present in the North American market. Where exactly is your technology implemented in the region and do you have plans for expansion?
So far, our technology has been licensed by more than 40 concrete producers in the US and Canada, many of whom are large, multinational organisations with hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of concrete plants globally.
We are planning to launch a complementary CO2 technology later this year to opportunistically expand into new geographic markets, such as Europe, by leveraging relationships with customers, suppliers and strategic partners.
”With the emergence of CO2-utilisation technologies, such as ours, CO2 can be viewed as a valuable feedstock rather than a harmful greenhouse gas”
- Robert Niven, CarbonCure CEO
With CO2 so often given a bad press, how does CarbonCure’s technology help the overall environmental campaign?
With the emergence of CO2-utilisation technologies, such as ours, CO2 can be viewed as a valuable feedstock rather than a harmful greenhouse gas. It aligns industry and environmental interests by creating a win-win scenario of higher profits and lower CO2 emissions for one of the world’s largest commodity industries.
Industrial gas suppliers have a significant opportunity in the near-term to supply the necessary industrial gases (an estimated 7,000 megatonnes of CO2 annually by 2030) required by existing and emerging manufacturing industries of carbon-based products.
What’s the aim for CarbonCure’s technology?
There is an enormous societal benefit for CO2-utilisation technologies by contributing to climate change mitigation and improving the manufacturing costs and resource efficiency of abundant carbon-based products such as concrete, chemicals, fuels and plastics.
We are just beginning to fulfil our global innovation and commercial potential within the $1 trillion CO2-utilisation technology segment. We will continue to leverage our science and engineering expertise to commercialise new CO2-applied technologies that provide both environmental and economic advantages.
We also aim to grow organically with strategic partnerships to accelerate the adoption of CO2 capture and use across the global cement and concrete industries.