LONGMONT, Colo. — If you look out your window right now, you'll probably see something made of concrete. It's everywhere. Your driveway, parking structures, buildings; the list goes on.
And that's a bit unsettling considering traditional concrete production pumps about 11 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every single day.
But a Colorado company has found a way to make concrete that actually removes carbon from the atmosphere.
The company is called Prometheus. It was founded by four University of Colorado professors who first came up with the idea inside their labs using algae.
And they believe the algae concrete could be the answer to reducing a big chunk of the world's carbon emissions, also known as greenhouse gases.
"We believe that our concrete emits about 90% less CO2 than traditional concrete," said Vaughn Bigelow, vice president of manufacturing for the company.
And that's a big deal considering concrete is the most-used construction material in the world, and the way it's traditionally made with limestone is not all that earth-friendly.
"Limestone is mined and harvested from the earth, it's then put into a kiln and cooked at bout 1500 degrees Celsius which then emits a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere," explained Vaughn.
"Concrete is responsible for about 8% of the annual CO2 emission worldwide."
But at the Prometheus plant, CO2 is actually removed from the atmosphere
"This is technology, that we borrowed from nature," explained Stephen Bell. "It sequesters carbon through the same way photosynthetic organism does such as a tree." Bell is the director of biotechnology at the plant.
Bell explained the algae continues to sequester carbon even after it's made into these concrete blocks. The algae also help to make the blocks super-strong using the same process you find in nature.
"The algae help to create these biominerals that we utilize in our material in the same way that seashells and coral reefs use biominerals to make the hard shells," explained Bell.
In this case, the blocks will soon be made into buildings. The company is forging full-speed ahead with production. It will be moving into a larger facility with more production lines before the end of the year.
It also got some new pretty recognizable investors including Microsoft.
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