Concrete Products

DEC 2013

Concrete Products covers the issues that attract producers of ready mixed and manufactured concrete focusing on equipment and material technology, market development and management topics.

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FEATURE COVER STORY CARBON LEVERAGE Solidia Technologies approaches commercialization of its branded cement and concrete, trading hydration-based binding and curing methods for carbonation By Don Marsh Solidia Technologies President and CEO Tom Schuler shifted to cement and concrete from Dupont Building Innovations. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from University of Virginia, where he also completed graduate studies in fnance and marketing. Chief Technology Offcer Nick DiCristofaro, Ph.D., joined Solidia Technologies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Offce of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property, which followed research and management roles at AlliedSignal, Honeywell and Hitachi Metals. He holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in metallurgy, and a doctorate in materials science and engineering, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 28 • december 2013 The green building movement's embrace of materials and products bearing lower carbon footprint than heritage offerings has piqued the interest of parties outside traditional cement and concrete circles. Some are promoting solutions that lower portland cement requirements, but impart comparable performance in fnished concrete; others are targeting cement and concrete materials' calcium chemistry to make aggregates, slabs and structures that bear loads and function as permanent carbon dioxide sinks. Piscataway, N.J.-based Solidia Technologies has refned a process converting a stream of CO2 to binding solids within a concrete matrix, after the gas has frst been channeled for hardening and curing. On the heels of six years of laboratory work, capped with 2012–13 feld trials, the company is approaching the commercial stage of an integrated value proposition: Solidia Cement + Solidia Concrete. The latter will debut primarily for zero or low slump precast products as staff investigates higher slump mixtures suited to conventional precast and cast-in-place conditions. The Solidia Technologies business plan envisions licensing and royalty agreements with cement and concrete producers across the world. The company's 50-member team spans scientists and engineers with wide connections in construction and building materials, plus extensive experience in new product and market commercialization, intellectual property, and simplifed manufacturing. They are leveraging competencies in chemistry and kiln energy optimization for cement production, and fabrication and curing to deliver fnished concrete with up to 70 percent less embodied carbon than portland cement alternatives. A compelling carbon message is critical for the level of capital Solidia Technologies investors have committed in laboratory and production equipment, plus domestic and international research. Management acknowledges, however, that a reduced carbon factor and ticket on the green-building express will only carry so far. Beyond carbon math, the company looks to demonstrate how Solidia Cement and Solidia Concrete can equate to mixes that require less water and fewer, if any, admixtures than portland cement concrete; set on demand and only when exposed to CO2 gas streams; and, yield fnished products with 4,000 psi to 8,000 psi compressive strength development in one day versus a week or more on conventional alternatives. President and CEO Tom Schuler underscored the Solidia philosophy in a panel discussion earlier this fall during the World Business Council for Sustainable Development/Cement Sustainability Initiative 2013 Forum in Vancouver, B.C. "Sustainability is about competitiveness. Companies that don't adopt sustainable technologies will struggle to compete," he observed for the packed gathering, which included representatives from more than 20 of world's top cement operators. "The [cement] industry must adopt sustainable technologies that can help generate profts—without relying on grants or carbon credits." "Sustainability must stand on its own two feet with commercially viable technologies," he tells Concrete Products. "We have worked for years to understand the market and its challenges, and focus on processes that use the same raw materials in cement and concrete plants. Our technology fits within existing parameters of a broad span of producers from North America and Europe to Japan, China and Australia." Through much trial cement or concrete production and sample testing involving global, regional and independent producers, Schuler adds, "I haven't found an industry working harder to improve its sustainability profile. Every company we've talked to is looking at carbon factors and energy consumption. We're an intriguing option. We can bring something competitively priced to cement and concrete companies, which in turn can offer customers products of reduced carbon footprint. "We have taken a complex technology and made it simple, not only to ease adoption around the world, but also to provide the construction and building materials industries a real competitive edge, with immediate cost savings, superior performance, and an enhanced sustainability profile."

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