In the industrial world, cement is about as ubiquitous as materials. But despite its obvious and obvious usefulness, cement is responsible for about 8% of global CO2 emissions – if it were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter by some estimates.
While cement’s ubiquity is largely due to how easy it is to produce and its relative cost, making cement is hugely carbon intensive due to the amount of energy required to make it. And this is something UK startup Material Evolution is trying to address with a new energy-efficient manufacturing process that it says requires zero heat.
Founded in 2017, Material Evolution today announced it has raised £15 million ($19 million) in a Series A funding round to scale up production of its low-carbon cement, which it says has an 85% lower carbon footprint than normal Portland cement.
While Material Evolution was officially founded in the US, where it was initially intended to be its first target market, the company operates substantially from the UK, where the founders and team of 20 are based, as well as where all product development takes place.
There are plenty of companies trying to tackle cement’s carbon problem, including young upstarts like Carbon Re and Carbonaide, both of which have recently raised venture capital (VC). But Material Evolution points to its proprietary technology as a key differentiator. Rather than using the energy-hungry kilns typical of cement-making, the company says it uses an “alkali fusion” process to produce cement at ambient temperatures, from various “industrial wastes and raw materials,” eliminating the need for of fossil fuels is bypassed.
When Material Evolution refers to “alkali fusion,” it essentially refers to a process based on principles similar to those of nuclear fusion.
“Fusion technology is hailed as the way to meet humanity’s energy needs [the next] millions of years, while emitting no carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases,” said Material Evolution co-founder and CEO, Dr. Elizabeth Gilligan, in a statement.
The company says its material is already being used in the industry, enabled in large part by a strategic partnership with materials company Sigmaroc, which is also a strategic investor in Material Evolution’s Series A round.
The company’s Series A was led by Kompas VC, with participation from Norrsken VC, Circle Rock and SigmaRoc.