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Greenhouse gas emissions: leave it concrete!

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Did you know that? Concrete is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. If it were a country, it would be the world's third largest polluter... To address this issue, a French industrial startup, Materr'up, develops and produces green or eco-responsible concretes. Discovery.
 
AConcrete is everywhere: homes, office buildings, large surfaces, parking lots, roads, bridges, ... To make concrete, the most commonly used binder is Portland cement, a mixture of silica sand, limestone, clay baked at very high temperatures (clinker), chalk and other molten ingredients. An inert aggregate, where any undesirable chemical reaction can cause cracks in the concrete, leading to erosion and structural collapse.
 
Yet four billion tonnes are produced every year. Cement manufacturing is extremely polluting: 8 % of the world's CO2 emissions result from this manufacturing process. It is exploding, particularly in emerging and developing countries, accompanying the rapid growth of cities. Concrete is also the world's most manufactured product and the second most consumed material in terms of volume by humans, after water. The market is colossal: 1,100 billion $ worldwide and €36 billion for France. It is also a market that is undergoing major changes due to new constraints:
- Regulatory: as of 2017, the energy transition law for green growth has imposed to recycle 40% of construction waste today and 70% in 2020. And in 2020, thermal regulations will evolve and take into account the carbon impact of buildings.
- Financial: International finance is massively redirecting global savings towards low-carbon investments.
- Fiscal: "carbon" taxes will penalise industries and companies that emit CO2.
 
"Concrete is the world's most polluting manufactured product, because of the cement that binds the sand and aggregate in its composition". explained to our colleague La vie économique, Mathieu Neuville, chemical engineer and doctor in physics, founder of Materr'up in 2018.
 
The environmental cost of concrete is high: to make it, sand and gravel must be extracted, leading to the disappearance of beaches, erosion and environmental problems such as pollution and loss of biodiversity. (1).
 

An industrial startup dedicated to low-carbon construction

Mathieu Neuville, a chemical engineer with a doctorate in physics, has conducted "applied" R&D work on cement concrete at Lafarge and innovative concrete mixes at Total for more than ten years on behalf of industrial groups.
In 2014, in view of the climate crisis and on the strength of his experience, he decided to use his skills to develop more ecological materials and buildings: five years were thus devoted to the design and construction of earthen buildings.
In 2018, Materr'UP was created in 2018, drawing on the expertise of his brother Charles, a specialist in project management and financing (15 years of experience in Finance) and innovation management.
At the beginning of 2019, new skills will strengthen the team with the arrival of Manuel Mercé. A PhD in chemistry, with six years of experience at the CNRS and Total, Manuel is a specialist in patents and international projects.

 
Mathieu Neuville, Scientific Director of Materr'up 

Materr'up technology

To address the problem of concrete pollution, the startup Materr'upThe Materr'up Group, a FrenchTech company dedicated to low-carbon construction, develops and produces structural and cooling concretes from a patented clay cement: Portland cement is replaced by Materr'up binder and clay from quarries or excavated soil from construction sites. The resulting mixture does not require firing. These "green concretes" are designed to decarbonise the construction, with up to a 70 to 80 % reduction in CO2 emissions.
 
This Crosslinked Clay Cement technology is also a response to the 400 million tonnes of excavated soil that will be generated in the Paris region between now and 2030, linked to the construction of the Grand Paris and the Grand Paris Express. And 40% of the excavated material from the Grand Paris can be recovered with this technology.

 

A structural material combining mechanical, technical and environmental virtues

Its patented technology Crosslinked Clay Cement is based on an innovative patented binder that enables the implementation of high-performance, economical, circular and local construction solutions while meeting the challenges of the energy transition. The recycling rate of these concretes is significantly higher than that of conventional concrete. They are fully recyclable without loss of mechanical performance.

In addition to its environmental qualities (improved carbon balance and renewability), clay concrete has thermal (summer comfort), hygroscopic (evacuation of water vapour) and aesthetic performances. This natural phase change material therefore fulfils several functions at the same time, making it a technological breakthrough.
The recycling rate of this clay concrete is much higher than that of conventional concrete. It is fully recyclable without loss of mechanical performance.
 
Waste becomes a resource
 

The excavated soil is transformed into a structural construction material thanks to the Materr'UP binder combined with the excavated material from the site, which allows the application of a site concrete. It is a self-compacting concrete, equivalent to class C25/30 concrete. It is laid in the same way as "conventional" Portland cement-based concrete. It has the same performance and aesthetic qualities as clay concrete.

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What if we thought about building our cities differently?

This method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the subject of particular attention, as it makes it possible to significantly reduce emissions from the calcination process and combustion, particularly in cement plants. It is time that alternatives to concrete and its variants were available for construction. Concentrated and aggressive research in this direction is obliogatory because the increase in pollution peaks confirms the general trend of increasing air pollution in large cities, making it necessary to review our construction models.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 6.5 million deaths will be associated with air pollution worldwide in 2012, and in France, a study of Public Health Agency of 2016 denounces fine particles, responsible for 48,000 deaths per year, the equivalent of 9% of the country's mortality.
 
Improving the quality of daily life has always been one of man's major concerns. Not forgetting the thermal renovation of buildings, one of the major challenges of our society in a context of increasing scarcity of energy raw materials. It is in this context that we are constantly looking for new materials that are more efficient, more ecological and better adapted to the constraints and requirements of the times.
 
Current trends, now supported by changing regulations, make energy performance a decisive research criterion in the development of innovative materials: insulation, building materials, etc.; the aim is to completely rethink the habits that have governed the construction industry over the last three decades and optimise the properties of tomorrow's materials.
 
 
(1) Source : Width
Header image : ©ginger-cebtp study office
 
To go further
- Batimat Round Table "Should architecture become resilient? "Tuesday 28 May from 9.30am to 11am (Regard sur l'architecture by Batimat)
 

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