Climate

Material Evolution raises $19M to decarbonize the cement industry

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Brick wall, concrete mixer, wheelbarrow, bucket and spade.
Image Credits: iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

In the industrial world, cement is about as omnipresent as materials get. But despite its clear and obvious utility, cement is responsible for some 8% of global CO2 emissions — if it was a country, it would be third biggest emitter globally, by some estimations.

While cement’s ubiquity comes largely down to how easy it is to produce and the relative cost, creating cement is hugely carbon-intensive due to the amount of energy required to make it. And this is something that U.K. startup Material Evolution is seeking to address with a new low-energy 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 round of funding to scale production of its low-carbon cement, which it says has an 85% lower carbon-footprint than normal Portland cement.

While Material Evolution is officially incorporated in the U.S., where it initially intended as its first target market, the company operates substantively out of the U.K., where its founders and team of 20 are based, and also where its entire product development takes place.

There are numerous companies out there trying to address cement’s carbon problem, including young upstarts such as Carbon Re and Carbonaide, both of which have recently raised venture capital (VC) cash. But Material Evolution points to its own proprietary technology as a key differentiator. Rather than using the energy-hungry kilns that are typical of cement making, the company says it uses an “alkali-fusion” process to produce cement at ambient temperatures, from various “industrial wastes and feedstocks,” circumventing the need for fossil fuels.

When Material Evolution talks about “alkali-fusion,” it’s essentially referring to a process based on similar principles to that of nuclear fusion.

“Fusion technology has been hailed as the way to meet humanity’s energy needs for [the next] millions of years, whilst emitting no carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases,” Material Evolution co-founder and CEO Dr. Elizabeth Gilligan said in statement.

The company says that its material is already used within 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.

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