A novel project underway at Lafarge Canada in Quebec will take slag and waste material from the steel industry that is earmarked for the landfill and repurpose it into an ingredient that can be used as part of the production process to make carbon-negative concrete blocks.
The company is partnering with CarbiCrete, a Montreal-based carbon removal technology company that developed a process to produce cement-free, carbon-negative concrete made with industrial byproducts and captured carbon.
Lafarge will process the steel-related byproducts at its St. Constant plant in Montreal and transform it into the material for the concrete block technology. Patio Drummond of Drummondville, Que., will then use the processed steel slag as part of a trial to produce the blocks.
“Our partnership with CarbiCrete enables the development of a new product for customers like Patio Drummond,” explains Vincent Boulay, sales manager for Lafarge Canada East.
“The concrete blocks produced through this initial rollout will be masonry blocks that can be utilized in various building projects.”
“As we begin to see and understand the practical application of the technology and zero-carbon concrete, we will understand how this can work, not just with masonry blocks or other precast concrete applications.”
Turning scraps into sustainable materials
Boulay says the project fits with Lafarge’s commitment to circular economy practices and actively contributing to a more sustainable world through the reduction of embodied carbon in concrete.
“The significance of our initiative lies in the repurposing of steel slag. Typically relegated to landfills, this byproduct now takes on a new role in our sustainability efforts. By diverting it from landfills, we’re not just mitigating waste, we’re actively contributing to a reduction in the environmental footprint of the construction industry.”
CarbiCrete developed the technology to use the processed steel slag to make the carbon-negative concrete blocks. For every ton of concrete produced, 150 kilograms of CO2 are abated or removed.
According to Boulay, Lafarge will be responsible for turning the steel slag into material that is a key component in CarbiCrete’s technology. Once the material is produced, it will be sent to a block producer, in this case Patio Drummond, which will use it with the technology as part of the production process.
Lafarge will process the raw material into dry bulk powder at its manufacturing cluster, leveraging its long-established infrastructure and expertise in handling cementitious materials.
“In this collaboration, Lafarge focuses on the processing of steel-related byproducts, which is a construction demolition material,” says Boulay. “This approach not only addresses environmental concerns but also embodies circularity by transforming old materials into new construction elements. We are kickstarting this circular process by repurposing these byproducts.”
CarbiCrete’s contributions to carbon-negative concrete
CarbiCrete contributes its specialized knowledge in crafting climate-friendly construction solutions, he says, while Patio Drummond, the end user of the material and a block producer, is actively engaged in the market trial, producing zero-carbon concrete blocks, showcasing the practical application and real-world impact of this partnership in its projects.
Boulay says Lafarge is partnering with CarbiCrete on the venture because the collaboration emphasizes sustainability, innovation, and the transformation of waste into a valuable resource.
“Lafarge Canada is committed to accelerating green growth and reducing our environmental footprint,” says Boulay. “The partnership with CarbiCrete aligns with our dedication to sustainable construction and signifies a crucial step in our journey to decarbonize. By leveraging CarbiCrete’s technology, we can repurpose waste materials from the steel industry, actively contributing to the circular economy and accelerating our decarbonization goals.”
While Lafarge can’t get into the specifics of its future ventures, Boulay says the adoption of the CarbiCrete technology is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sustainability.
“While we can’t disclose specific details at this time, our collaboration with CarbiCrete is part of Lafarge’s broader commitment to exploring and adopting innovative technologies that contribute to sustainable construction practices.”
A recent milestone in the company’s innovation journey is its equity investment in EXACT Technology Corporation, a Toronto company that offers digital solutions for the concrete industry.
EXACT’s technology monitors and controls concrete processes through an integrated suite of hardware and software that enhances client efficiency and quality.
“This investment empowers us to leverage modern instrumentation and digital solutions, enabling real-time monitoring of water, temperature, and strength,” says Boulay. “The implementation of such advanced tools enhances construction efficiency and elevates quality control standards.
“As we strive for continuous improvement, we actively seek new opportunities to minimize our environmental footprint and champion positive change within the industry.”