bneGreen: Finland’s Betolar develops green cement as construction races to decarbonise

bneGreen: Finland’s Betolar develops green cement as construction races to decarbonise
100% cement-free construction materials / Betolar
By Richard Lockhart in Edinburgh September 15, 2021

Finland’s Betolar is pioneering the production of low-carbon cement by using alternative industrial waste products in a process that could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%.

The materials technology company has this week launched Geoprime, an alkali-activated material that can be mixed with waste from a variety of industries to replace cement in the production of concrete. It still offers similar levels of performance and meets EU standards, while boasting an 80% smaller carbon footprint..

Betolar’s IP licensing model also allows the new solution to be easily scaled up, as it uses existing concrete production facilities.

The concrete sector, and construction in general, is looking for ways to reduce its CO2 emissions and to increase recycling, especially as one of the EU’s Green Deal’s main targets is to expand the circular economy and to find new uses for industrial by-products.

Europe’s concrete producers must already pay a carbon price, and the EU’s new CBAM system is set to extend this price to non-EU producers that exports into the EU.

The construction industry is currently responsible for 38% of carbon emissions, according to a recent report called “Net Zero Buildings: Where do we stand?” from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

“We are ready to help concrete manufacturers be more competitive by getting ahead of the demand for sustainable, circular economy materials to satisfy growing customer, infrastructure and real estate investor demand,” said Betolar CEO Matti Löppönen.  

“Two years ago people would meet with us here at Betolar because they felt they had to, but we have seen a massive shift in the concrete manufacturing and construction industries driven by investor pressure for ESG data transparency and net-zero commitments, and now people are keen to hear what we have to offer.”

Other parts of the construction sector, such as steel, are also investing in the development of greener production technology.

Swedish Steel maker SSAB, Swedish Vattenfall and state-owned Swedish miner LKAB recently announced the launch of green steel, delivering hydrogen-reduced sponge iron to the Volvo Group.

Betolar said that during four years of R&D work it had used a proprietary AI platform to analyse and model data from 400 different industrial side streams to create Geoprime. The new substance can be used to produce cement with optimal levels of strength and viscosity.

What this means is that the world’s concrete manufacturers can license the use of Geoprime from Betolar to offer sustainable concrete that can compete in the world marketplace, but with 80% lower emissions.

As well as helping to find a use for many more industrial side-streams that would otherwise go to landfill, Betolar’s smart solutions work within existing production facilities to speed up production without any significant capital outlay, which means faster time to market.

Put simply, the Geoprime will enable existing mainstream concrete manufacturers to meet the growing demand for reduced CO2 emissions in construction materials.

Betolar’s business model involves licensing its intellectual property, which will mean that concrete manufacturers will utilise their existing production facilities to make concrete without requiring any additional capital outlays.

By using local industrial side-streams, which would otherwise be sent to landfill, Betolar’s new solution will also reduce concrete’s environmental impact, as there will be lower transportation costs.

The construction sector is now looking for low-carbon solutions to meet the growing demand from cities and countries that have pledged to get to net zero.

Ashok Khosla, former Co-Chair of the UN’s International Resource Panel and founder of Tara, an Indian social enterprise for affordable housing, said: “This is the sector equivalent of the automotive industry switching to produce electric vehicles [EVs]. Construction is feeling the heat to step up and play its part in a low-carbon future. Cement is a massive emitter of CO2 in the production of concrete, but it doesn’t have to be.”

He added, “Betolar’s dramatic new innovations are not only local and benign, but also affordable. We are working together to revolutionise the science and art of making houses.”

Betolar is supported by leading venture capital investors Ajanta, Entrada, Voima Ventures, Taaleri and Valve Ventures.