Salt Lake City and three other local governments award grants to four carbon dioxide removal projects
In October 2022, Salt Lake City joined the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition to support projects that will advance large scale carbon dioxide removal efforts and fight the climate crisis. A few months later, the Coalition reviewed and made selections among a competitive pool of projects. We’re excited to announce that $389k in funding was granted to four concrete production projects that will remove carbon from the atmosphere.
The projects are located in Colorado and Arizona, but we hope to encourage more innovation in this space here in Salt Lake City!
Why carbon dioxide removal as a strategy municipalities should suport?
We know that energy intensive industrial operations are a major culprit of carbon dioxide pollution and climate change. It may come to a surprise, however, that the cement industry alone is responsible for nearly 7% of the world’s emissions, and the global demand for concrete is expected to increase for decades to come, according to the The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), making this an important sector to decarbonize.
Thankfully, the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition was able to grant funding to four projects that are exploring innovative ways to create concrete while actually removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There is huge potential for these types of projects to go large scale and be replicated around the globe.
To learn more about the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition and the funded projects, check out the press release below and this TechChrunch feature.
March 7, 2023
Innovation grants awarded to four concrete production projects that will suck carbon from the atmosphere
Coalition of local governments aims to spur carbon dioxide removal efforts, fight climate crisis through this funding
A coalition of cities and counties in the Western United States has awarded $389k in funding to four projects that fight climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the production of concrete. The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition — a partnership of Boulder County, CO, Flagstaff, AZ, Salt Lake City, UT, and Santa Fe, NM — pools resources to provide grants to accelerate carbon dioxide removal (CDR) project deployment and business development in the Four Corners region.
Through a competitive application process, the coalition received nearly $800k in funding requests before selecting four organizations for grants: CarbonBuilt, Citizens for Clean Energy Inc., Minus Materials, and Travertine Technologies. Recipients of the coalition’s inaugural round of catalytic grant funding will support projects that integrate CDR with real-world concrete production.
During the selection process, a panel of international experts in climate research, CDR technology, and concrete and construction materials reviewed proposals. The panel evaluated local replicability, potential for scaling, carbon removal volume, and benefits to workforce, justice, health, and ecology.
“The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition is a shining example of how local governments are acting together to fight the climate crisis,” said Susie Strife, Director of Boulder County’s Office of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience. “Pooling resources can amplify innovation and the creative deployment of the integration of carbon removal and concrete. These awardees will turn their breakthroughs into real world projects right here in the Western United States and we are thrilled to provide seed funding to catalyze this work.”
“We couldn’t be happier with the quality of the applications received,” said Nicole Antonopoulos, Director of the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Office. “It was just over three years ago that our community, like hundreds of others around the nation and the globe, called for the formal declaration of a Climate Emergency and outlined the goal of carbon neutrality. In doing so, the Flagstaff community also made it clear that avoidance-based offsets would not satisfy. As such, we’ve worked to establish partnerships to begin to develop a portfolio of regional projects that support the development and deployment of meaningful carbon removal. These projects do just that, and this outcome would not have been possible without Boulder County, Flagstaff, Salt Lake City and Santa Fe all working together as partners.”
CDR describes processes that pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and lock it away in geological, biological, and synthetic formations for decades, centuries, or even millennia. Carbon dioxide removal is necessary because carbon dioxide reduction alone will not address the climate crisis. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), cutting emissions from fossil fuels is necessary, but it’s no longer sufficient to stem the worst effects of climate change.
Concrete production is responsible for more than 7% of the world’s emissions and is the second-most consumed product globally after potable water. The concrete industry is highly distributed due to the nature of the product. Solutions that integrate CDR into concrete production have huge potential to scale and be replicated in local communities around the globe.
CarbonBuilt — Boulder, CO & Flagstaff, AZ
Sited at the Block-Lite facility in Flagstaff, this collaboration between Block-Lite, CarbonBuilt, and Aircapture is the world’s first project using atmospheric carbon to produce ultra-low carbon concrete. Aircapture’s Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology removes CO2 from the air and CarbonBuilt uses it to harden low-carbon concrete masonry blocks. The resulting concrete will have 70-100% percent less embodied carbon than traditional concrete.
“This is a classic case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Rahul Shendure, CEO of CarbonBuilt. “We are effectively creating a new and highly valuable market for captured carbon in an industry that is huge, global and ever-expanding. The global concrete industry has the potential to become the world’s only profitable, gigatonne-scale carbon sink. The grant from the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition is a key first step in the overall project plan and we look forward to building on the momentum.”
Citizens for Clean Energy Inc. — Boulder & Durango, CO
Carbon-Negative Biomineral Composite Structural Insulated Wall Panel System: $119,000
This project will demonstrate hempcrete construction by building carbon negative wall panels for a two-story office warehouse in Durango, CO. This construction will sequester carbon through a tip-up, hempcrete, structural panel system as well as through biochar used in the building’s cementitious materials. The project team will also engage in outreach and education activities with construction firms in the region.
“We are excited to demonstrate a new method to build affordable, low-maintenance, nontoxic, fire and mold resistant buildings with carbon negative biogenic materials,” said Steve Heising, Citizens for Clean Energy Executive Director. “This solution can simultaneously address our affordable housing challenges, reduce the embodied carbon in building materials, and fight the climate crisis. We look forward to sharing updates on our progress and the positive impact that these solutions will have on communities throughout the Four Corners region. We thank the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition for the opportunity to show what we can do and to teach others how they can do it, too.”
Minus Materials — Boulder CO
Bio-Regenerative Limestone Quarry: $100,000
This regenerative quarry pilot will use algae to convert atmospheric CO₂ into organic biomass and biorenewable limestone. Minus Materials will cultivate coccolithophores, a unique type of calcifying microalgae, that will yield approximately 100 kg of biorenewable limestone over the period of one year. Minus Materials will then use this product as a carbon-negative filler in a portland limestone cement or limestone calcined clay concrete slab demonstration project. This pilot will have the capacity to remove approximately 1.8 kg CO₂ per 1 kg organic biomass and approximately 0.4 kg CO₂ per 1 kg of biorenewable limestone.
“Minus Materials is thrilled and honored to receive a 4 Corners Carbon Coalition grant to install and operate a first-of-its-kind regenerative limestone quarry in Boulder County,” said Sarah Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Minus Materials. “This funding will catalyze the scaling and commercialization of our carbon-negative biorenewable limestone technology for decarbonization of the portland cement manufacturing process.”
Travertine Technologies — Boulder, CO
The Boulder Block: $20,000
Travertine Technologies generates carbon-negative precipitated calcium carbonate (CNPCC) using waste feedstocks from the mining and fertilizer production industries. In 2022, the Travertine team built a system capable of sequestering approximately 1kg of CO₂ per day into solid carbonate minerals. The system couples a sulfate salt splitting electrolyzer with a carbonate mineral precipitation reactor that uses CO₂ from the air. In this project, the team will produce and characterize a series of cubes of blended cement mortar that incorporate CNPCC to replace ordinary portland cement. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the beneficial use of Travertine’s CNPCC in the production of low carbon intensity cement binder for permanent carbon dioxide removal and sequestration.
“The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition is a great demonstration of the key role local governments can play in building climate solutions,” said Laura Lammers, CEO of Travertine Technologies. “Receiving this funding is an important signal to us at Travertine that regional governments are committed to supporting this industry, and that makes me excited to continue growing our team here in Colorado.”
Visit www.4cornerscarbon.org for more information about the Coalition, the status of current and future campaigns, and to support projects like these.