The US Department of Energy is working to develop and commercialize a new class of building materials made from carbon ore. The materials could be used in both the precast and cast-in-place construction markets as a cementitious substitute for Portland cement, the world’s predominant building material. The DOE selected C-Crete Technologies as a partner.
Carbon ore or coal, like any other natural mined ore (iron, calcium, etc.) does not create air pollution unless it is heated. Portland cement, on the other hand, is very energy intensive to manufacture. In fact, its production and use are responsible for 5 to 8% of total global CO2 emissions, creating an urgency in the quest for materials to improve or replace it.
C-Crete’s preliminary results indicate that its new carbon-based material will match ordinary Portland cement, the most commonly used cement, in performance and cost. The work with the DOE will help translate the promising lab results into a scalable process to compete with Portland cement.
Due to the increasing adoption of renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind, the demand for carbon ore has plummeted in the last decade. This creates an opportunity to convert the abundant, yet now underutilized ore, into building materials to accelerate the decarbonization of the construction sector.
The annual production of carbon ore in the United States is more than 700 million tons, about an order of magnitude larger than the US annual cement production, which is about 80 million tons.
The DOE is hoping C-Crete’s innovation in utilizing carbon ore will provide a fresh alternative feedstock for building materials.