Sustainable Calgary concrete tested on Minnesota highway

Buckle up. An Alberta company is hitting the road in the U.S. to showcase what low-carbon concrete can do. 

A road cuts through the Minnesota wilderness.

A Minnesota road cuts through foggy wilderness. – State of Minnesota

Key Takeaways:

  • Calgary-based Carbon Upcycling will have its low-carbon concrete tested for three years on U.S. highways.
  • The company uses CO2-enhanced fly ash to reduce cementitious material.
  • Their method will be compared to 14 other low-carbon alternatives as well as traditional concrete.
  • Researchers plan to publicly release the study results.

The Whole Story:

Carbon Upcycling, a waste and carbon utilization company commercializing a portfolio of circular and CO2-embedded materials, has wrapped up work on a concrete demonstration project led by the National Road Research Alliance (NRRA).

The project carved out an active section of highway road along Interstate-94 to trial 14 unique concrete mixtures, including Carbon Upcycling. The section of highway is located at the Minnesota Road Research Facility (MnRoad) in Albertville, Minn. 

Mixing it up 

Researchers chose 14 mixture designs that employ a variety of methods to decarbonize concrete, including the utilization of supplementary cementitious materials, portland limestone cement, alternative supplementary cementitious materials, alternative cement and liquid carbon dioxide – all for the purpose of reducing the lifecycle carbon footprint of concrete. 

Researchers are comparing each mixture to a conventional concrete mixture design prepared using portland limestone cement and fly ash.

Carbon Upcycling utilizes CO2-enhanced fly ash in its concrete. The company stated that this method has seen double-digit reductions in total cementitious material – an industry leading achievement for low-carbon concrete.

Down the road

“This demonstration project is intended to give companies an opportunity to put forward the most sustainable concrete mixtures their technologies and materials can achieve, without sacrificing performance,” said Larry Sutter, principal engineer for Sutter Engineering and the demonstration’s technical manager. “Carbon Upcycling has submitted a very impressive mixture design. Their material embeds co2 in the concrete, thereby accomplishing carbon sequestration. Additionally, their process improves the SCM reactivity, allowing for significant reductions in the portland cement used.” 

Sutter noted that Carbon Upcycling’s mixture design accomplished the highest reduction in total cementitious materials of all mixture designs submitted. He added that the data collected from the project will be critically informative to the cement and concrete industry and will facilitate implementation of these new materials as the industry works to reach its ambitious 2030 CO2 reduction targets.

Rolling out data

The NRRA and Mnroad project includes three years of testing and data collection to assess the different mixture designs. They plan to make results publicly available.

“Carbon Upcycling aspires to be the most impactful carbontech company of this decade,” said Apoorv Sinha, Carbon Upcycling co founder and CEO. “Third-party verified data like this further reinforces the industry’s confidence in our solution, and we will be announcing our first commercial-scale projects with engaged partners later this year.”


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