Algae Gives Concrete a Better Environmental Footprint

Four University of Colorado professors came up with an idea inside their labs to use algae to make a better kind of concrete, and hopefully disrupt an industry that is responsible for about 8% of the annual CO₂ emission worldwide. Their company is called Prometheus.

“We believe that our concrete emits about 90% less CO₂ than traditional concrete,” said Vaughn Bigelow, vice president of manufacturing for the company. Traditionally, “Limestone is mined and harvested from the earth, it’s then put into a kiln and cooked at about 1500 degrees Celsius, which then emits a lot of CO₂ into the atmosphere.”

In Prometheus’ approach to manufacturing concrete blocks, the algae sequesters carbon even after it’s made into these blocks. The algae also make the blocks super-strong using the same process found in nature. “The algae help to create these biominerals that we utilize in our material in the same way that seashells and coral reefs use biominerals to make the hard shells,” said Stephen Bell, director of biotechnology.

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