Green solutions in the building construction industry
Global production of building materials currently accounts for approximately ¼ of global greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1971, the steel demand has increased threefold, aluminium sixfold and cement almost sevenfold. According to the International Energy Agency, steel and iron production generates approximately 2.6 billion tons of CO₂ annually, constituting approximately 7% of all energy-related emissions. In response, start-up H2 Green Steel will use hydrogen instead of fossil fuels to produce steel. The company is building the world’s first commercial-sized green steel plant in Boden, Sweden, and is expected to produce 2.5 million tons by 2026. Meanwhile, Boston Metal intends to use an electrochemical reactor to produce steel instead of a large furnace powered by fossil fuels.
The cement production industry pumps 2.6 billion tons of CO₂ into the atmosphere yearly (7% of global emissions), so Sublime Systems has developed a cement production method that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of heating a mixture of calcium, sand and clay in furnaces, silicates and lime are immersed in water, and electricity initiates chemical reactions to produce the main components of cement. The team started by producing batches of cement that could fit in one’s hand. Currently, the company’s pilot plant can produce approximately 100 tons of pure cement per year and will try to prove that electrochemistry can produce one of the most essential building materials in the world.