Tuesday, May 17

Gets Enova millions: Will make a more climate-friendly concrete from mining waste

Oil research at UiS was the start of the company, which now receives NOK 11 million from government doctor Enova to make climate-friendly concrete.

Daily camper Espen Lea shows examples of facade elements made of Saferock concrete.

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Concrete is one of the most important building materials available. One of the ingredients is cement. The production of cement is to blame for large greenhouse gas emissions. As much as eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to government doctor Enova, which now donates NOK 11.5 million in support to the start-up company Saferock.

– Saferock has come up with a way to produce concrete that is very different from what is the industry standard. Their method makes it possible to avoid many of the major greenhouse gas emissions. This is something that will definitely be needed, says Fredrik Bengtsen, marketing consultant at Enova.

He explains that there are many who try to produce concrete in a more environmentally friendly way. But he thinks the method of Saferock is quite unique.

– We have not come across anyone else who does something similar, he says.

– The concrete industry will play an important role in achieving our climate goals, says Minister of Climate and Environment Espen Barth Eide (Labor Party) in a press release on the allocation of the Enova millions.

He points out that concrete production with carbon capture and storage, which is being worked on at Norcem’s cement factory in Brevik, is one way to go.

– If Saferock succeeds with its project, we will have another alternative for the production of concrete with low greenhouse gas emissions, says Eide.

Espen Lea, daily camper in Saferock, has a background in the oil industry. Now he is fully investing in a concrete that he hopes will reduce emissions from the construction industry. Here with researcher Ida Marie Gabrielsen.

From mining waste to concrete

– The support from Enova means a lot, says Espen Lea, daily camper in Saferock.

Saferock will use the money from Enova to build a pilot factory. The factory will be located at the partner Velde on Sviland in Sandnes municipality. Here, Saferock will demonstrate that their technology works, so that their product can be approved as a building material.

Instead of regular cement, Saferock uses geopolymer. Such a preposition needs an explanation.

– Geo means that it comes from the earth. In our case it is stone. Polymer means that there are long chains that bind together. This achieves strength, says Lea.

The stone they will use is mining waste from Titania in Sokndal.

– When we mix the geopolymer cement together with the other ingredients, which are a residual product from the process industry and an activator, a hardening process takes place, just as it does when making traditional concrete, Lea explains.

The open pit for Titania in Sokndal, photographed in 2019.

Snøhetta signal building in Lysefjorden

In 2012, start a research project at the University of Stavanger where one was to develop cement for plugging oil wells. The project was supported by Aker BP and Total. The research resulted in doctoral student Mahmoud Khalifeh taking out a patent on the technology that now forms the basis for Saferock’s investment.

Saferock will start up in 2019, with support from the innovation company Valide.

At the pilot plant, Saferock will be able to produce 17 tonnes of geopolymer cement per day. To start construction of the factory, Saferock must raise around NOK 20 million in equity.

Both Lysefjorden investment and the architectural firm Snøhetta collaborate with Saferock.

– Lysefjorden investment wants to use the concrete in a signal building in Lysefjorden, says Lea, who does not want to go further into what this signal building should contain.


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