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Cambridge scientists capture carbon to create building materials

1 October 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: Michael Evans, CEO of Cambridge Carbon Capture

Scientists working at a Cambridge-based company have developed a process to capture carbon dioxide emissions and turn them into a lightweight, fire- and water-resistant product that can be used in building materials.

Cambridge Carbon Capture has developed CO2LOC, which works via a two-stage mineralisation process and involves the reaction of magnesium hydroxide (MgOH2) with CO2 to produce magnesium carbonate (MgCO3). The magnesium carbonate is filtered and formed into a rock-like substance, which stores the sequestered carbon.

The company said the by-product could be used in a wide range of applications, including in an eco-friendly alternative to concrete fillers, blocks, and plasterboard. It also claimed that a cement works could capture CO2 emitted from a cement plant and transform the captured CO2 into a filler for their readymix concrete.

So far, the technology has been proven at laboratory scale and now the company is looking at ways to scale up its operations.

In a statement, the company said: “Experiments at our Cambridge-based lab have proven that our CO2LOC technology can efficiently mineralise carbon. We were able to produce 50 grams of Magnesium Carbonate (MgCO3). Our research has indicated that MgCO3 has promising applications as a fire-retardant building material and using the MgCO3 that we have produced, we are testing this quality.”

Michael Evans, CEO of Cambridge Carbon Capture, told the Cambridge Independent: “Now we’ve proven the technology in the laboratory, we now aim to prove it on an industrial scale, and for that, we need large amounts of investment. We’re currently in discussions with a range of organisations to establish partnerships for use of the technology and are seeking investment to help us demonstrate our technology in real world applications.”

Comments

Should the buildings which potentially are too be built using this MgCO3 need to be demolished or face earthquakes for example in the future then would the original CO2 be released into the environment.

Kevin Simpson, 1 October 2019

Lets hope the construction industry takes this new development on board

Sheila, 1 October 2019

This is an exciting leap forward for greener concrete and other material possibilities, plus possible other uses such as fire resistance, together with capturing CO2. In a way, rather a simple answer (?), as quite often the best scientific solutions are, such as with Graphite and Graphene. Surely the investment will transpire and we will hear a lot about this venture. Best of luck!

Grant Gover, 2 October 2019

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