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Carbon positive concrete now on market

Carbon positive concrete now on market
Carbon positive concrete now on market

Concrete production is a major contributor, accounting for nearly eight percent of global CO2 emissions. In Soltau, a groundbreaking initiative is underway to transform this industry and significantly reduce its environmental impact.

Antonio Catarino has dedicated a decade to this mission: "We possess the technology to revolutionize the construction sector's carbon footprint," asserts the CEO of Bton, a leading concrete manufacturer. In collaboration with partners, they inaugurate Germany's inaugural "climate-positive" concrete factory in Soltau, Lower Saxony. The term "climate-positive" signifies a process that saves more CO2 than it emits. At the heart of their innovation lies a novel mixing technology, unrivaled globally according to Catarino.

A two-step production process.

Traditionally, concrete manufacturing involves simultaneous mixing of water, sand, gravel, and cement. The reaction between water and cement, essential for concrete curing, necessitates clinker in the cement. However, clinker production is energy-intensive and emits substantial CO2.

In Soltau's new mixing tower, clinker usage is drastically reduced. The production process unfolds in two steps. Initially, water and cement are blended, accelerating hydration—the activation of cement particles by water—without sand and gravel additives. This permits the use of lower-clinker content cement, resulting in up to 80% CO2 savings as claimed by operators. Subsequently, sand and gravel are introduced in the second step.

Lighter and environmentally friendly concrete.

Bton's investment of 9 million euros in the new facility underscores their commitment to sustainable practices. Thomas Demmel, Managing Director, affirms that the concrete produced via this method matches traditional concrete's quality without added costs. The climate-positive aspect arises when carbon-reducing materials are incorporated during mixing, leading to net CO2 absorption.

"We believe this is a game-changer," Demmel declares. Notably, Soltau's concrete production can be made 40% lighter than before, conserving resources. Furthermore, the new mixing technology can utilise fine-grained sands, including desert sands previously unsuitable for conventional mixing plants.

Economic viability and global impact.

To achieve lasting climate-friendly construction practices, scalability is crucial. Bton plans to manufacture walls and facade elements for 1,600 to 2,000 apartments annually in Soltau. However, expansion is essential. Additional plants are slated for Germany and internationally, with initial interest from Brazil, the USA, Singapore, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia.

Thorsten Leusmann, a concrete expert, highlights the economic aspect as pivotal for investing in such innovations. Success would encompass a wide spectrum of advancements in concrete technology. The Soltau plant serves not just as a production hub but also as a training ground for future precast facilities worldwide.

Connecting to global goal 13 - climate action

This initiative directly aligns with UN Global Goal 13 - Climate Action, aiming to combat climate change and its impacts. The quest for climate-positive concrete production exemplifies proactive steps in addressing climate challenges within the construction sector.

By fostering sustainable practices and reducing CO2 emissions, this project contributes to broader efforts towards climate resilience and environmental stewardship on a global scale.

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