When cement is combined with water, sand, and gravel, it hardens into concrete—the second-most-used substance on the planet (after water).
Within the typical cement-making course of, emissions largely come from two sources. First, ground-up supplies comparable to limestone and clay are heated in kilns to over 1,400 °C (2,500 °F) to prime the combination. Reaching these temperatures sometimes requires burning coal or different fossil fuels, which produces carbon dioxide and different greenhouse gasses.
The chemical course of within the kiln additionally requires peeling carbon dioxide away from the beginning minerals to depart the reactive cement powder that builders use. That carbon dioxide is normally troublesome to seize earlier than it’s emitted into the ambiance.
Elegant Programs has invented a course of that tackles each of these points.
First, the corporate makes use of electrochemical reactions somewhat than excessive temperatures to make its cement, avoiding the necessity to burn fossil fuels. Fueling the reactions with electrical energy implies that Elegant’s vegetation can ultimately be powered by vitality sources like photo voltaic and wind as an alternative of by burning coal or pure fuel. The method may also use totally different beginning supplies that don’t essentially emit carbon dioxide once they’re reworked into cement substances.
- Trade: Cement
- Based: 2020
- Headquarters: Somerville, MA, USA
- Notable reality: The primary reactions that cofounder Leah Ellis ran in a lab at MIT made solely a few die-sized quantity of fabric.
Potential for affect
If Elegant is ready to run its course of on the huge scales required to be related within the trade, the startup’s expertise would cut back emissions related to cement by 90%.
And whereas a number of paths to decarbonizing the sector are beneath improvement at the moment, Elegant’s method may ultimately make cement that may compete with typical strategies on value, making a convincing financial case for adoption.