Carbon Buster Is World’s First Carbon-Negative Building Block

When you really stop and think about all the variables that influence a product’s carbon footprint, the prospect of getting anywhere close to neutral can seem staggering. Constructing a new building is no different: each individual material has a carbon footprint associated with raw material extraction, manufacturing, and transportation.

Instead of worrying about how to offset that footprint once a building is put together, a UK masonry company called Lignacite is developing building materials that are carbon neutral to begin with, and then detract from the structure’s entire carbon footprint once built. The “Carbon Buster” is their newest achievement: a building block that captures more carbon dioxide than is emitted during its manufacture.

According to a company release, the Carbon Buster is made from more than 50 percent recycled aggregates, including Carbon8 pellets made from thermal residues left behind at waste to energy plants. Thanks to these unique materials, the block is able to capture more carbon dioxide (14 kilograms of carbon dioxide per ton) than is emitted during its manufacture.

“By mixing the residue with water and carbon dioxide, we were able to transform the material into what the Environment Agency has agreed is a product suitable as a virgin aggregate replacement,” said Carbon8’s Technical Director Dr. Paula Carey in a press statement.

Previously, Lignacite was able to produce carbon minimal building materials using sand and gravel from its quarry combined with recycled waste materials, such as wood shavings, glass and shells, to create a minimal carbon footprint for the product. With the addition of Carbon8’s unique product, made by carbonating the thermal waste before mixing in binders and fillers and shaping it into pellets, they’ve finally achieved a carbon negative product.

Both companies hope that the Carbon Buster building block will be instrumental in helping the British government realize its commitment to zero carbon homes by 2016.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog