Block-Lite, CarbonBuilt, Aircapture eye carbon dioxide-to-concrete first

Sources: CarbonBuilt, Los Angeles; CP staff

The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition has awarded $150,000 to Arizona concrete masonry producer Block-Lite, plus partners CarbonBuilt and Aircapture, to develop the world’s first fully-integrated direct air capture (DAC)-to-concrete assembly. Based at the producer’s Flagstaff plant, the project has the potential to yield market rate block exhibiting 70 percent lower embodied carbon versus conventional concrete.  

“All too often sustainable building materials require a tradeoff between cost and performance, but what is unique about this project is that there’s no ‘green premium’,” says Block-Lite CEO Ryan Ross. “We’re going to be able to produce on-spec, ultra-low carbon blocks at price parity with traditional block, which should speed adoption and impact.”

The addition of CarbonBuilt mineralization and Aircapture DAC technology continues Block-Lite’s years-long decarbonization commitment, underscored in late 2022 with deployment of roof-mounted solar arrays to power much of its blockmaking operation.

CarbonBuilt will install carbon dioxide-mineralizing equipment at the Flagstaff operation, tapping an array of modular Aircapture DAC devices engineered to isolate high purity CO2 from onsite air intake. The project will enable Block-Lite to avoid 2,000 to 3,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions and capture 500-plus metric tons of atmospheric CO2 annually.

“Large scale, durable carbon utilization can play a critical role in driving down the cost of DAC and accelerating atmospheric carbon removal. The concrete industry’s scale and global reach uniquely position it as an enabling partner to the DAC industry,” says CarbonBuilt CEO Rahul Shendure. “We intend for this project to become a blueprint that can be replicated at many of the thousands of concrete plants around the world. The grant from Four Corners is a key first step in the overall plan and we look forward to building on the momentum with our partners.”

“Atmospheric carbon dioxide removal and carbon utilization into products is on the critical path to addressing climate change,” adds Aircapture CEO Matt Atwood. “While the common assumption of industrial carbon application is that of a short lived product, we are demonstrating a novel solution to create permanent carbon storage sinks in our built environment. This exemplary project couples industrial decarbonization together with cost savings, carbon removal, job creation and environmental co-benefits.”

The Block-Lite CarbonBuilt/DAC installation is the premier undertaking for the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition, whose charter members are the City of Flagstaff; Boulder County, Colo.; Santa Fe, N.M.; and, Salt Lake City, Utah.   

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