C-Crete Technologies was awarded $1.55 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to design, develop and fabricate carbon-based building materials, and use them to create a prototype building.
The ultimate goal is to create eco-friendly, modular structures that can be manufactured economically.
"The advantage of using carbon ore as a building material is that it is naturally occurring and widely available, and thus doesn't require high amounts of energy to manufacture," said Dr. Rouzbeh Shahsavari, founder and president of C- Crete Technologies, a company specializing in advanced materials for the building and energy industries.
The prototype building will be the size of an actual room. Its component materials will be at least 70% carbon by weight.
C-Crete's research and development will include the production and testing of a sufficient number of carbon-ore materials to ensure that the materials used in the prototype are suitable for real-world construction purposes and meet all applicable building codes, such as those for fire, strength, and other material properties.
Once the basic building shell has been constructed—walls, roof and a partial foundation—C-Crete will test the assembled materials under stress conditions to demonstrate the viability and show that the new carbon-based materials can be fastened, bonded or otherwise integrated with traditional building materials.
Further advantages of the new materials, according to Dr. Shahsavari, will include flexural strength, thermal stability, and the ability to withstand water damage and other natural means of degradation.
They can be graphitic or non-graphitic and used to make roofing tiles, bricks, beams, columns, wraps and veneers, for example.
"Our proprietary low-cost and green process converts carbon ore to a series of value-added structural materials, demonstrating the technical and financial feasibility of fabricating modular carbon-based buildings," Dr. Shahsavari said.
"In view of the current quest in the construction industry to shorten the construction timeframe, offer low-cost options, and produce minimal waste, the ability to create modular building materials based on abundant carbon ore provides an interesting alternative to the use of common construction materials," added Negar Rajabi, the tech-to-market lead of C-Crete Technologies. "Furthermore, this strategy doesn't have the large CO2 footprint inherent to the chemistry of traditional construction materials like cement. Our process provides a clean transformation of these very abundant ores into eco-friendly building materials."