Biocement looks to solve infrastructure’s massive carbon problem

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In North Carolina, startup Biomason is making tiles and bricks out of bacteria to provide an alternative to cement, which is responsible for large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions. 

Cofounder and CEO Ginger Krieg Dosier tells Forbes that if cement were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter, behind China and the United States, mainly because of the high temperatures required to produce it. “Cement and construction are really hot topics right now,” says Dosier. “Concrete is the second most-consumed substance beyond water. It’s in building structures, driveways, paving, foundations. It is massive.”

She developed the technology while working as a professor of architecture in the United Arab Emirates.  The process is similar to how coral grows, and the resulting material is about 85% granite from recycled sources and 15% biocement. “We look to the blueprints that nature gives us to rethink concrete,” Dosier says. “Whether we’re looking at a coral or a seashell or exoskeletons or limestone rock, it’s fundamentally the same material.”

Fast fashion retailer H&M recently announced a plan to use the tiles in its stores.  “This is a big commercialization year for us,” Dosier says. “This is the breakout year.”