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By Natalie Giglio, Upcycling Technologies, Operations and Development Associate

At Carbon Upcycling Technologies (Carbon Upcycling), we believe in using the waste of today to build a better tomorrow. Supporting the build of sustainable and resilient infrastructure by using CO2-Enhanced Fly Ash as the supplementary cementitious materials (SCM) in the concrete generates a consumer influenced market demand signal that in turn generates credible fact-based case studies that nudge governments and large cement/concrete producers to rethink material choices and build with better materials. We hope this will encourage the formation of legislation to mandate the use of low-carbon concrete in all infrastructure development. 

Carbon Upcycling is an Alberta based company, founded in Calgary, that has developed a single-step low-energy SCM treatment technology that facilitates the adsorption of CO2 into SCMs. Carbon Upcycling effectively reduces the carbon footprint of concrete in three distinct ways: 

1 directly sequestering (also referred to as mineralizing) CO2 during the treatment process 

2 displacing cement from the concrete mix, and 

3 extending the life cycle of the concrete by providing additional strength and durability performance. Carbon Upcycling directly sequesters 3-5% of CO2 by mass of the end product into the SCM feedstock. 

The CO2-Enhanced SCM exhibits significantly improved strength activity in concrete, enabling a cement reduction of 10%, and subsequently avoiding, approximately 30-35 kilograms of CO2 emissions per cubic meter of concrete used in a project. 

Using Carbon Upcycling’s CO2-Enhanced Fly Ash is cost competitive with existing SCMs, and will help lower the overall embodied carbon of buildings – making it a smart and sustainable choice for Alberta’s infrastructure development. To date, support from Emission Reduction Alberta, Alberta Innovates, BURNCO, and Lafarge has proven and validated the use of CO2-Enhanced SCMs to create low-carbon concrete that is available to Albertans today. BURNCO and Lafarge have already deployed over 1,000 tonnes of Carbon Upcycling’s Carbon Enhanced Fly Ash in projects across Southern Alberta. 

Cement production accounts for 8% of global emissions annually, so there is a greater need than ever to reduce the cement content of concrete by using SCMs. With that context, Carbon Upcycling is strategically positioned to deploy its technology globally by 2035 and enable over 100 MM tonnes of carbon emission reductions annually–the equivalent of taking 21.7 millions cars off the road annually. 

Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 3