sustainability technology

Reducing emissions from cement with the Carbon Xprize

Cement production is one of the less obvious climate change challenges. At 5% of global emissions, it’s easy to focus on transport or electricity. But if we succeed in reducing emissions by the 80-90% required, that 5% would begin to loom very large. Left unattended, half our carbon budget could end up going on cement before we knew it.

So when the Carbon Xprize revealed its ten finalists last week, it was good to see some competitors among them working on concrete. One example is Carbon Upcycling UCLA, who capture CO2 from power plants and lock it away in a cement alternative. They’re calling it CO2NCRETE, naturally, and it’s a carbon neutral building material.

Going one better is Canadian start-up Carbicrete, who claim that their concrete block is actually carbon negative. It’s made from steel slag, a waste product that is widely available from the steel industry. Since the block is cured with CO2 as well, it effectively sequesters more carbon in the concrete than is emitted in manufacturing it.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Xprize since it was launched in 2015, and I’ll be interested to see if the chosen technologies can now be successfully demonstrated at a larger scale. If you haven’t checked in recently, I can recommend browsing the ten teams remaining, and the technologies they are pioneering. Only a couple of them can share the prize in 2020, but there’s room for all of these innovations and more in the industry.


  1. Just checking if all are aware of the Guardian’s ‘Concrete Week?
    It presents some interesting info including things we can all do:
    Also I just stumbled across a nice short summary video from MinutePhysics:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: