Alabama’s National Carbon Capture Center successfully tests carbon-reduction technology for concrete production 

Alabama’s National Carbon Capture Center successfully tests carbon-reduction technology for concrete production 
The National Carbon Capture Center in Alabama worked with CarbonBuilt using technology developed at UCLA Samueli School of Engineering to successfully test permanently storing carbon dioxide in concrete blocks. (Ike Pigott / Alabama NewsCenter)

A pioneering technology that can permanently store carbon dioxide (CO2) in concrete blocks has gone through successful testing at the Alabama-based National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC).

CarbonBuilt and the NCCC, located next to Alabama Power’s Plant Gaston in Wilsonville, announced the completion of the multiweek test of carbon utilization and concrete production technology. The test successfully injected CO2 from the flue gas streams of the NCCC’s natural gas testing system and Plant Gaston’s coal-fired generating unit into more than 5,000 concrete blocks, where the carbon is now “stored for good,” according to a news release.

Alabama Power’s parent company, Southern Company, manages and operates the NCCC for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Officials with California-based CarbonBuilt said the company’s Reversa process includes innovations to the concrete mix design and the curing process. It is based on technology developed at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering that received the prestigious 2021 NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE.

“The Reversa formulation significantly reduces consumption of cement while enabling the increased and more flexible use of waste materials like fly ash or slag,” the news release said. “During the curing process, dilute CO2 from flue gas streams is directly injected into and permanently sequestered within the concrete, with no requirement for carbon capture or purification.”

Teams from CarbonBuilt, the NCCC, UCLA and Childersburg-based Blair Block worked to test the Reversa technology under a range of conditions. The testing was successful across all metrics.

“Our approach offers utilities and other industrial plants a pathway for beneficial reuse of CO2 emissions,” said Rahul Shendure, CarbonBuilt CEO. “At the same time, we offer concrete producers a way to increase operating margins significantly while reducing overall carbon emissions from production by more than 50%. This winning combination could unlock gigaton-level emissions reductions in the coming years.”

“Helping advance technologies toward commercialization is the core of our mission,” said John Northington, NCCC director and director of net-zero technologies for Southern Company. “It is exciting to work with CarbonBuilt and UCLA to test and evaluate their concrete production technology. Utilizing carbon dioxide to produce essential products like concrete will be an important solution as the world moves to reduce overall carbon emissions.”

The NCCC is the nation’s primary carbon capture research center and operates under the auspices of the DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The NCCC is a neutral research facility working to accelerate the commercialization of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-based power plants and to promote carbon utilization and direct-air capture innovations.

“DOE’s Carbon Utilization Program, which is implemented by NETL, supported development of the X-Prize winning technology through cooperative agreements,” said Joe Stoffa, NETL Carbon Utilization Technology manager. “More broadly, DOE’s Carbon Utilization Program supports the development of technologies to transform CO2 into valuable products in an efficient, economical and environmentally friendly manner.”

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