Carbon Upcycling UCLA
The Carbon Upcycling team brings together researchers from chemistry and biochemistry, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, and economics. The team includes UCLA faculty, staff, and students. Five distinguished professors lead the team. Dr. Gaurav Sant is the Principal Investigator on the project and is developing the technology to combine the pressurized CO2 with hydrated lime to create CO2NCRETE: a carbonated building material. Dr. J.R. DeShazo is providing the economic and market analysis for the work. Dr. Richard Kaner is developing the membrane technology to separate/capture the CO2 from flue gas. Dr. Laurent Pilon is focusing on waste heat recovery and on the overall energy efficiency of the process. Finally, Dr. Mathieu Bauchy is working on optimization of the material properties and CO2 uptake.
UCLA’s breakthrough technology enables the unprecedented, large-scale, beneficial use of flue-gas borne CO2 that is secured from the smoke-stacks of power plants. This CO2 is embedded in a building material, “CO2NCRETETM.” Lego-like building components formed of CO2NCRETETM offer higher structural efficiency and flexibility in construction and accelerate onsite assembly; thereby lowering project periods and labor costs. CO2NCRETE has a CO2 footprint that is less than 50% that of traditional concrete; an industry responsible for nearly 9% of CO2 emissions globally.
Carbon Upcycling’s CO2NCRETE manufacturing process captures flue gas-borne CO2 and utilizes it to fabricate a low-CO2 replacement for traditional portland cement concrete. The central technology involves a novel carbonation process (patent pending) that captures CO2 from flue gas mixtures and embeds it via mineralization into limestone; a well-known natural cementation agent. The final products formed via the CO2NCRETE process are modular elements manufactured by advanced shape stabilization methods (e.g., 3D-printing) that can be rapidly assembled to construct buildings and infrastructure. The process can also optionally utilize low-cost, scalable polymeric membranes to separate CO2 from industrial flue gases, yielding enriched CO2 to further improve production throughput. By seamlessly integrating three valuable, versatile, established technologies the process is designed to be scalable and easily integrated into industrial cycles which provide a ready source of CO2, e.g., natural-gas or coal-fired power plants. CO2NCRETE’s production is environmentally friendly, as it produces no harmful byproducts, and minimizes waste production and water usage. With a sustainable, low-CO2 footprint process that enables unprecedented design flexibility and automation, Carbon Upcycling’s CO2NCRETE will transform construction, a traditionally low-tech sector, into an industry of the digital age – while providing a platform for gigaton-scale CO2 utilization, globally.
About Team Leader
Chengwei LinLouis Linden