This concrete can trap CO2 emissions forever

This concrete traps CO2 emissions forever

Concrete is the most abundant man-made material on earth. There’s a good chance you’re standing on it right now, and it’s holding up the buildings around you.

But concrete has an emissions problem. Its essential ingredient, cement, has a huge carbon footprint.

Cement is the glue that makes concrete strong, but the process of making cement requires superheating calcium carbonate, or limestone, and releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Cement is responsible for 7{7cbdd729793beecc1ca330a5e2ad253e8f82e79fecf4a907573761c319b29cdd} of global man-made greenhouse emissions, making it the world’s second largest industrial source of carbon dioxide, according to the International Energy Agency. Data from the United States Geological Survey — the scientific agency of the US government — reveals that global cement production was responsible for about 4 billion pounds of CO2 emissions in 2017 alone.

But a Canadian startup has invented a new system for making concrete that traps CO2 emissions forever and at the same time reduces the need for cement.

CarbonCure’s system takes captured CO2 and injects it into concrete as it’s being mixed. Once the concrete hardens, that carbon is sequestered forever. Even if the building is torn down, the carbon stays put. That’s because it reacts with the concrete and becomes a mineral.

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“The best thing about it is the mineral itself improves the compressive strength of the concrete,” Christie Gamble, the director of sustainability at CarbonCure, told CNNMoney.

“Because the CO2 actually helps to make the concrete stronger, concrete producers can still make concrete as strong as they need to but use less cement in the process.”

And using less cement is how producers can really reduce emissions.

Atlanta-based Thomas Concrete, a concrete producer, has been using CarbonCure’s system since 2016. Thomas Concrete says it has since prevented 10 million pounds of CO2 emissions.

Justin Lazenby, a manager of technical operations at Thomas Concrete, said the move toward greener tech is a long-term decision the concrete industry should embrace.

 

Concrete Tight

 

The industry as a whole has always kind of looked at trying to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s technology, which doesn’t really work,” he said.

Thomas Concrete pays to use CarbonCure and buys captured CO2 from a fertilizer plant where it’s emitted, but the company says those costs even out with what they save by using less cement.

“We understand that to make environment impact, you have to make business sense,” Gamble said.

CarbonCure’s technology utilizes CO2 that would otherwise be a waste product from factories. Finding uses for captured CO2 is an economically-friendly way of incentivizing companies to capture their emissions.

“We’re leading that movement right now [by] showing it is possible to take CO2 and turn it into something that makes financial sense,” Gamble said. “This concept of beneficial reuse of CO2 is expected to be a one trillion dollar industry by the year 2030.”

A new mixed-use development in one of Atlanta’s trendiest neighborhoods, called 725 Ponce, is a real-life example of the impact of building with greener concrete. When it opens in 2019, it will become the largest structure ever made with CarbonCure concrete.

Related: We took an exclusive ride in a flying car

725 Ponce Construction

Fiji to New Zealand: 9 of the most scenic Asia-Pacific flights

Whether you’re in the Himalayas, Maldives or the Great Barrier Reef, these incredible natural wonders are beautiful from every angle you travel.
But the view from a prop plane, helicopter — or even a hot-air balloon — is hard to beat on foot.
Ready for liftoff? From a Cessna over the majestic Fiordland region of New Zealand to island puddle jumpers in Fiji, these are nine of the most scenic flights in the Asia-Pacific region.

1. Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound, New Zealand

The Milford Sound, hugged by the Darran Mountains.
Kate Springer/CNN
There’s a reason director Peter Jackson chose to shoot the “Lord of the Rings” films in southern New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park.
For starters, the landscape is stunning — picture dramatic craggy cliffs and snow-capped peaks that will make you feel infinitesimally tiny.
In the center of it all lies the Milford Sound, where the Tasman Sea flows inland between high cliffs and Mitre Peak looms in the distance.
There are several ways to experience it — hike, drive or fly — but you’ll get the best views from the air.
For those who prefer a plane, Air Milford enables travelers to combine a scenic flight with a cruise along the sound.
Meanwhile, tours with Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters warrant a worthy splurge. The nimble choppers will get you as close as possible to the untouched hinterland.
You’ll hover over ancient forests and empty valleys, fly by waterfalls and, if weather allows, even park for a few quiet moments atop the Mt Tutoko glacier.
Some itineraries even squeeze in time for a nature trek along the shores of the glossy sound, where you’ll spot penguins and seals.

2. Fiji

Fiji Sea Plane

Turtle Airways provides day trips around the archipelago.
Kate Springer/CNN
Home to 333 islands, Fiji is a vast archipelago that’s impossible to experience without easy access to a Cessna.
Luckily, several airplanes and helicopter services have developed day-trip itineraries to help travelers hop from the big island of Viti Levu to the popular Mamanuca Islands southwest, and over to lush Taveuni in the northeast.
In addition to the spectacular bird’s eye view, most seaplane and helicopter tours will also provide a meal or activity, be it a Champagne lunch at Tokoriki Island in the Mamanucas with Island Hoppers Fiji or a bespoke picnic at the famous Blue Lagoon with Turtle Airways.
Then there’s the “Mystery Flights” organized by Pacific Island Air, where travelers won’t know where they’re spending the day until they hop on board.

3. Bagan, Myanmar

Balloons over Bagan, Myanmar

Balloons over Bagan takes off at sunrise.
Balloons over Bagan
As the first commercial hot-air balloon outfit in Asia, Balloons over Bagan launched its first flight about 20 years ago.
Since then, the postcard image of Bagan has been synonymous with sunrise flights over the mystical archaeological zone — picture tens of thousands of Buddhist monuments, shrouded by a gentle mist.
The company has since expanded to offer two-day balloon safaris, which takes travelers from Inle Lake in central Myanmar to the Pindaya Caves northwest. The experience includes private breakfasts, village tours, half-day cooking experiences, cycling excursions, bonfire dinners and more.
Just be sure to check the seasons before you plan a trip, as balloon operations usually run from October to April, with the high season in January.

4. Hamilton Island, Australia

Hamilton Island

An aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef.
Hamilton Island
While most might experience the Great Barrier Reef on the water, we’d highly recommend an aerial view.
From a home base on Hamilton Island, off the northeast coast of Australia, intrepid travelers can hire a seaplane or helicopter to traverse the tropical paradise.
Stop first on the white sands of Whitehaven Beach, pay a visit to the gorgeous Whitsunday Islands, fly over iconic Heart Reef or land at the permanently moored Reefworld pontoon for a day of snorkeling around Hardy Reef.
From 10-minute heli rides to full-day seaplane excursions, you can experience the best of both worlds with companies such as Hamilton Island Air or GSL Aviation.