BASF unit joins venture capitalists behind low-carbon binder, casting technology

Sources: BASF Venture Capital GmbH, Ludwigshafen, Germany; Solidia Technologies, Piscataway, N.J.

By Don Marsh

BASF Venture Capital contributed $5 million to a $27 million, early-February financing round for Solidia Technologies, which is promoting an aggregate-binding agent milled at lower temperatures than portland cement, and a rapid precasting process using carbon dioxide as a reactant.

Solidia launched its technology at 2011 Greenbuild in Toronto, pointing to building panel, paver, tile and countertop applications. Officials noted how their concrete-like innovation is based on a process with which mixes’ morphology and chemistry can be controlled to engineer materials exhibiting “unique properties and exceptional application performance.” Dubbed Low Temperature Solidification—or a densification of inorganic materials—the process was developed by Rutgers University’s Riman Research Group.

Using CO2 as a reactant, thus sequestering a greenhouse gas during product fabrication, Solidia claims “a new pathway to carbon negative building and construction materials.” Just prior to GreenBuild, it formed a development partnership with stone product machinery specialist Simec S.p.A. of Italy. Solidia enables sustainable production of a new generation of building and construction materials, with “better mechanical properties than traditional concrete and show[ing] no shrinkage, high compressive strength and low permeability,” says BASF Venture Capital Principal Dr. Pulakesh Mukherjee.

“The global building and construction market offers a significant opportunity for this technology,” adds Solidia CEO Thomas Schuler, who arrived at the New Jersey company this month from DuPont Building Innovations. “Our process has been developed in the pilot scale and BASF can add a lot of value with its knowledge of chemistry and process engineering.”

In addition to BASF Venture Capital, Solidia Technologies backers include Silicon Valley venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, an early investor in AOL, Amazon and Google; Bright Capital, a venture arm of Russian business group RU-COM; and, BP Ventures, a unit of the U.K. energy giant.