CO2 for Sustainable Construction

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

CO2 for sustainable construction encompasses a range of innovative technologies that utilize captured carbon dioxide (CO2) to create building materials and enhance construction processes. This approach directly addresses the significant carbon footprint of the construction industry, transforming CO2 from a harmful emission into a valuable resource for creating greener, more durable, and cost-effective building solutions.

Impact on climate action

CO2 for Sustainable Construction revolutionizes building materials by converting carbon dioxide into valuable resources. This innovation mitigates CO2 emissions by transforming them into eco-friendly construction materials, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the construction industry. It marks a pivotal step in combating climate change through innovative utilization of greenhouse gases.


Several key technologies and concepts are driving CO2 utilization in sustainable construction:

  • CO2 Mineralization: This process involves reacting CO2 with calcium or magnesium-rich materials to create stable carbonate minerals, such as calcium carbonate (limestone), which can be used as aggregates or binders in concrete production.
  • CO2 Injection into Concrete: Injecting CO2 into fresh concrete mixtures enhances its strength and durability while permanently sequestering the carbon within the concrete matrix.
  • CO2-Cured Concrete: Introducing CO2 during the concrete curing process accelerates carbonation, leading to faster curing times and improved strength development.
  • CO2-Based Building Blocks: Startups are developing new types of building blocks, such as bricks and pavers, made from CO2-cured concrete or other CO2-derived materials, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials.

TRL : 6-9 (depending on the specific technology and product)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Novel CO2 Mineralization Techniques: Researchers are exploring new and more efficient methods for mineralizing CO2, including using bio-based catalysts and electrochemical processes, to enhance the carbon capture capacity and optimize material properties.
  • 3D Printing with CO2-Enhanced Materials: 3D printing technology is being adapted to utilize CO2-enhanced concrete and other CO2-derived materials, enabling the creation of complex and customized building components with a reduced carbon footprint.
  • CO2-Neutral Cement Production: Innovations in cement production processes aim to minimize CO2 emissions and utilize captured CO2 to create carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative cement.
  • Circular Construction Practices: Integrating CO2 utilization with circular construction practices, such as deconstruction and material reuse, can further reduce the environmental impact of the industry.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • CO2 Mineralization Advancements
  • Enhanced Concrete Strength with CO2 Injection
  • Accelerated Concrete Carbonation Techniques
  • Innovative CO2-Based Building Materials
  • Carbon-Neutral Cement Production Innovations
  • Carbon-Negative Cement Development
  • Circular Construction Integration
  • Reuse of CO2-Derived Materials
  • Sustainable CO2 Utilization in Construction
  • Carbon-Infused Building Solutions
  • Greener Construction Practices
  • CO2 Capture and Utilization Efficiency
  • Carbon Footprint Reduction in Construction
  • Eco-Friendly Building Material Innovation
  • CO2 Sequestration in Building Materials

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • CarbonCure Technologies:
    • Technology Focus: CarbonCure specializes in carbon capture utilization (CCU) technology for concrete production. They capture CO2 emissions from industrial sources and inject them into concrete mixes, where the CO2 is mineralized, resulting in stronger and more sustainable concrete.
    • Uniqueness: One of the unique aspects of CarbonCure’s technology is its ability to not only reduce carbon emissions but also improve the performance of concrete. Their solution enhances concrete strength and durability while reducing its carbon footprint.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments include the construction industry, concrete producers, and developers looking to meet sustainability goals and improve the environmental performance of their projects.
  • Solidia Technologies:
    • Technology Focus: Solidia Technologies focuses on CO2-cured concrete and cement production. They have developed a process that uses CO2 to cure concrete, reducing its carbon footprint significantly compared to traditional methods.
    • Uniqueness: Solidia’s technology offers a complete solution for reducing the carbon footprint of concrete production, from the curing process to the cement itself. Their approach results in concrete products with lower CO2 emissions and enhanced performance.
    • End-User Segments: Similar to CarbonCure, Solidia targets industries involved in concrete production and construction, offering them a more sustainable alternative to conventional concrete products.
  • CarbiCrete:
    • Technology Focus: CarbiCrete focuses on developing a carbon-negative concrete alternative by replacing cement with steel slag and using CO2 curing technology. Their process not only reduces carbon emissions but also sequesters CO2 within the concrete itself.
    • Uniqueness: CarbiCrete’s approach is distinctive in its emphasis on carbon negativity. By sequestering more CO2 than is emitted during production, their concrete products actively contribute to carbon reduction efforts.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments include construction companies, infrastructure developers, and governments seeking innovative solutions for reducing the carbon footprint of building materials and structures.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Technology Enhancements: MIT researchers are developing novel catalytic processes to convert CO2 into high-value building materials such as cement and aggregates. They are exploring advanced reaction mechanisms and catalyst designs to increase the efficiency and selectivity of CO2 conversion reactions.
    • Uniqueness of Research: MIT’s approach involves integrating CO2 capture and utilization technologies into existing construction processes, enabling the production of sustainable building materials with reduced carbon footprint. They are also investigating the use of CO2-derived materials in innovative construction techniques, such as 3D printing and prefabrication.
    • End-use Applications: The research at MIT has implications for the construction industry, offering sustainable alternatives to traditional building materials. CO2-derived cement and aggregates can be used in various construction applications, including concrete production, road paving, and building insulation, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and promoting circular economy principles.
  • ETH Zurich:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at ETH Zurich are focusing on developing scalable and cost-effective processes for converting CO2 into building materials using renewable energy sources. They are exploring electrochemical and photochemical approaches to facilitate the direct conversion of CO2 into value-added products such as carbon-based materials and synthetic fuels.
    • Uniqueness of Research: ETH Zurich’s research emphasizes the integration of CO2 utilization technologies with renewable energy systems, aiming to create closed-loop cycles for sustainable resource management. They are also investigating the potential synergies between CO2 conversion and other renewable energy applications, such as energy storage and grid balancing.
    • End-use Applications: The research at ETH Zurich has broad applications in the construction and energy sectors. CO2-derived building materials can be used to construct energy-efficient buildings, carbon-negative infrastructure, and sustainable urban environments. Additionally, CO2-based synthetic fuels can help decarbonize the transportation sector and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Purdue University:
    • Technology Enhancements: Purdue researchers are exploring innovative chemical and biological approaches to convert CO2 into functional building materials with tailored properties. They are developing bio-inspired catalysts and enzyme systems to enable efficient CO2 capture and conversion under mild conditions.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Purdue’s research focuses on harnessing natural processes and biological systems to convert CO2 into value-added products with minimal environmental impact. They are investigating the use of microorganisms, plants, and biomimetic materials to sequester CO2 and produce bio-based construction materials with enhanced durability and performance.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Purdue University offers new opportunities for sustainable construction practices and carbon management strategies. CO2-derived building materials can be used in a variety of applications, including green building certification, carbon offset projects, and climate-resilient infrastructure development. Additionally, the integration of biological CO2 conversion processes can promote ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

CO2 utilization for sustainable construction is gaining traction, with several technologies already being commercially deployed:

  • CarbonCure Technologies: Their CO2 injection technology has been widely adopted by concrete producers, reducing the carbon footprint of various construction projects.
  • Solidia Technologies: Has partnered with several companies to pilot and demonstrate their low-energy cement and CO2-curing technologies in paving and precast concrete applications.