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🌳 Carbicrete - Replacing Cement while Capturing Carbon

My Climate Journey

Photo by Anaya Katlego / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Jason Jacobs
Guest: Chris Stern | Co-Founder & CEO | Carbicrete
Category: 🌳 Carbon Capture

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:42] “Carbicrete is a technology that replaces cement in concrete. […] We actually use an industrial waste byproduct of the steelmaking industry, called steel slag. […] There's like 250 million tons of it made every year as a direct result of making steel. And it's generally landfilled or used as a road base. So it doesn't have a high value. And in some cases, there's a cost to get rid of it. And it's basically ground down to the specification that we advise and it's used in place of cement in masonry products like concrete blocks and paving stones and retaining walls. And the one way it differs in cement is that it does not hydrate, so it does not cure by hydration, it actually cures by subjecting it through CO2. So the calcium oxide and silicon center that make up this hard mineral actually react with CO2 and it consumes CO2 in great quantities.”

[10:52] “It's very difficult to decarbonize cement making, because the chemical reaction produces CO2. So that's very difficult to stop. […] If you are going to make cement, then the only way to decarbonize is to capture the CO2 and do something with the CO2. So there are companies doing that. […] But there's not a lot of people looking at this industry, because it's so difficult. […] What we're doing at this point [is] driving down the levelized cost of carbon capture.”

[12:17] “The approach is instead of […] hit[ting] our heads against the wall and trying to decarbonize cement, we're using a product that's already existing. Steel slag is made every year, it's part of the process, and to make good steel, you're gonna produce a bunch of minerals. And the minerals unfortunately until now didn't have a big purpose in life. […] And that's the uniqueness of it. We're taking essentially garbage and reacting to CO2 and making a valuable product, concrete blocks, bricks, paving stones, and retaining walls.”

[16:51] “We don't build masonry plants, because they already exist. So there's no reason for us to raise capital to build a whole bunch of concrete plants. So we license the technology and get a revenue stream there. And of course a revenue stream from the carbon dioxide that we either abate or fully remove.”

[21:52] “The next phase is basically getting a grinding system installed at the steel plant and […] tooling up to be able to sell all the steel slag that can be put through that grinder from that steel plant. So finding enough customers around us, and there's plenty, that can use the technology. And so we're effectively raising capital to […] raise this first cluster of customers.”

[23:29] “There're a lot of direct air capture companies and other capture companies that, [are] raising [venture] capital or […] [are] getting paid [a certain] amount of money to take CO2 out of the air. But the fact remains, once you've taken it off the air, what are you gonna do with it? […] You can stick it in the ground and that's fine and get paid […] or you can partner with a company like Carbicrete and we'll put into a valuable building product that can be sold, just like regular concrete.”

[28:39] “In Canada we've got carbon pricing already, which is federally mandated to go up 270 bucks a ton by 2030, which is awesome. It's a no-brainer for people to switch over to our technology in this country, because they're gonna be paying extra for cement, because there's a lot of CO2 associated with that. And then they won't get the benefits of sequestering CO2. So it's a double hit to their bottom line.”

[29:55] “There should be a universal carbon tax. […] The only way to get us out of this climate mess, is to have universal cooperation on what should be the price of carbon, and which authority will account for it. So that's the one missing piece.”

[35:29] “Carbicrete does three things, we get rid of an industrial waste byproduct, steel slag, [which] ends up in landfills. We replaced cement, you can't decarbonize cement easily. And we get rid of CO2. We put it into blocks, and it never ever comes out. Only if it burns and nobody burns concrete blocks. So that's the message I want everybody to understand. There's no reason why not to choose Carbicrete.”

Rating: 💧💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: "Startup Series: Carbicrete")
🕰️ 36 min | 🗓️ 07/15/2021
✅ Time saved: 34 min

Additional Links:
My Climate Journey