Concrete from CO2

This is “upcycling” at its best – capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from smokestacks and turning them into a useful building material. That’s the concept behind CO2NCRETE, a new construction material that was recently unveiled by UCLA researchers. In addition to tackling the problem of what to do with all the greenhouse gases being generated by power plants, the new material will reduce the use of traditional concrete, which in itself contributes about 5 percent of carbon dioxide emissions globally.

The researchers have demonstrated a process in which CO2 is mixed with lime to produce a cement-like material that can be shaped using a 3-D printer. But it’s not quite ready for mass distribution yet. Taking CO2NCRETE from proof-of-concept to production will require scaling up the process to produce much larger quantities than can be done in the lab.

However, this technology could turn the tables on the economics of power production by turning a major waste by-product into a valuable resource that can be used to expand building and extend road systems, particularly in countries like China, the largest greenhouse gas producer in the world.

For information: J.R. DeShazo, UCLA, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Luskin Center for Innovation, 3250 Public Policy Building, Box 951656, Los Angeles, CA 90095; phone: 310-593-1198; fax: 310-206-0337; email:; website: