North Carolina-based biotech startup Biomason has developed an eco-friendly way to create concrete, using micro-organisms to “grow” cement.
Concrete is one of the biggest culprits of global emissions, responsible for around 8 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions. Manufacturing the material is also energy-intensive. The process of making it requires a kiln to heat its materials to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit
In contrast, Biomason’s factory creates cement using recycled aggregates (bits that hold the concrete together) infused with bacteria (strain not disclosed). The combination stimulates the bacteria into an activity similar to coral-making, producing calcium carbonate – the bio-cement that acts like glue.
The resulting tiles and other pre-cast products, dubbed Biolith, contain 85 per cent granite from recycled material and 15 per cent bio-cement. According to the startup, unlike traditional cement manufacturing, the process works in ambient conditions without the need for high heat.
“We look to the blueprints that nature gives us to rethink concrete,” said Krieg Dosier, CEO at Biomason. “Whether we’re looking at a coral or a seashell or exoskeletons or limestone rock, it’s fundamentally the same material.”
The company recently raised $65 million in a Series C round from investors, and Dosier stated that funding would be used to expand the company’s product line, including ready-mix concrete and not just pre-made tiles.
“We are on a direct flight to revolutionize the cement industry,” explains Dosier.
“This financing not only supports our ever-growing team, technology platform, and continued commercialisation, it also proves that our vision to end the world’s dependence on carbon-emitting construction materials is within reach.”
Investors include venture capital firm 2015, Novo Holdings, Celesta Capital, and Martin Marietta Materials.