The challenge

Concrete is the second most consumed material in the world by mass and accounts for 8% of the global CO2 emissions. Recently, several restrictions for the construction industry have been introduced, including a cap on CO2 emissions (i.e. 600kg CO2 per m2, maximum embodied carbon per project) on a project-by-project basis.

Construction companies are struggling to reduce their embodied carbon – as it is not easy to find an alternative for concrete. Some of these companies have lost large contracts as they cannot provide a CO2 mitigation plan for construction. In addition, some public clients have set a carbon reduction plan and only accept construction companies that can meet their target. For example, Network Rail is aiming to reduce 8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Construction companies are striving to find novel methods to reduce their CO2 emissions.

The innovative project

Concrete4change (C4C) is using specific technology for CO2 sequestration. A polymer based carrier is utilised to transfer up to 30% CO2 into concrete. The CO2 will react with concrete and will be permanently mineralised. As a result of the injected CO2 mineralisation, the strength of concrete will increase. The cement content can be reduced to match the desired standard strength grade of concrete. Reducing the cement content of concrete reduces the CO2 emissions of concrete significantly.

Both CO2 injection and cement reduction can reduce the carbon footprint of concrete by 60% – equal to 4% of global emissions. Concrete4Change is greener and cheaper than the average concrete, allowing the reduction of construction costs and can help create truly affordable housing. As the concrete has carbon in it, it’s more damp resistant, which means homes built out of it won’t suffer from damp.

The partnership

Concrete4Change was founded by:

  • Sid Pourfalah, a concrete industry expert and chartered principal engineer. He has developed the first generation of Engineered Cementitious Composite in the UK and is an innovation advisor at the University of Sheffield.

  • Dr. Michael Wise, a trained Chemical Engineer, has several publications on Carbon Capture, Storage and Utilisation (CCSU) having developed conceptual technologies for the oil industry. He is also currently a scale-up advisor at Imperial College.

  • Aisling O’Loghlen who has project managed €10 Million for the climate crisis, EU funding management.

The University of Warwick, University of Sheffield, University of Leeds, University of West London have all supported the research and development of the product. UK research and Innovation has helped with IPs and patents; High-Value Manufacturing Catapult has helped industrialise the product; the British Precast Federation has hosted industry workshops to introduce the product to the construction industry; and Hanson (the biggest concrete manufacturing in UK) is manufacturing the product manufacturing and providing free material for tests. Kier is the first construction contractor to use the product.

Concrete4Change has also partnered with Birmingham, Loughborough and Sunderland City Councils to improve council houses’ condition as our product can reduce the damp housing conditions. They are also introducing the technology to Dublin, Copenhagen and Berlin city councils, with funding from Innovate UK.

The impact

The Concrete4Change technology can be replicated under a licence agreement by any construction contractor in the world, irrespective of the size and location of the project.

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