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  • Matt Kennedy-Good

Neocrete scoop in Inside Resources

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Inside Resources, a journal for the mining and quarrying industry, featured Neocrete in its 30 November edition. Reproduced below with kind permission of Inside Resources.


Neocrete targets 2027 for carbon-zero concrete

Faye Lougher - Wed, 30 Nov 2022


Neocrete co-founder Matt Kennedy-Good says the firm will be producing carbon-neutral, sustainable concrete by 2027, using locally sourced pozzolans.


The company, founded in 2018 by Kennedy-Good and Zarina Bazoeva, recently received $240,000 in funding from Waka Kotahi’s innovation fund to design, test and trial high-performing, low-carbon concrete mixes.


“Our motivation for setting up the company is we want to make an impact. We want to reduce global carbon emissions from concrete and we want to be part of the solution that brings concrete to a carbon neutral, much more sustainable, or completely sustainable product.”


Neocrete leverages 20 years of innovation by Zarina’s father, Dr Oleg Bazoev. The concrete additive he created in Russia has been used to add strength and durability to overseas projects ranging from high-rises to hydro-electric power stations.


New Zealand-based innovation has adapted this high-strength additive to focus on reducing the carbon footprint of concrete.


Challenge


Making cement is by its nature a highly energy-intensive process, with concrete accounting for about 8 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Raw materials like clay and limestone are heated to about 1400°C to turn them into a binding agent for sand, gravel or other coarse materials. CO2 is emitted from the energy used to fire the material, and the chemical reaction produced from the mixture when it is exposed to heat.


Cement makers worldwide are seeking alternative supplementary cementitious materials to get the CO2 content of their product down.

Fletcher Building-owned Golden Bay Cement has altered its production process, while Holcim is blending imported steel making waste to lower the emissions content of its products here.

Fly ash, a waste product from coal-fired power generation, has long been used to reduce the carbon footprint of concrete by replacing some cement, but can cause performance problems.

Neocrete’s activator significantly increases the strength of concrete, allowing a substantial reduction in cement content and carbon footprint.

Using the additive does make concrete more expensive, but Kennedy-Good says the company is working to eliminate the cost premium over traditional Portland cement.


“At the moment, it’s between about 5 per cent for precast panels, and could go up to about 10 per cent for in-situ concrete, but it depends on how much and what strength of concrete is needed.

“The higher the grade of concrete, the cheaper Neocrete gets, because we can achieve higher cement replacement.


“The research and development we’re doing now means that in six or 12 months we’ll achieve a 40 per cent reduction in cement, and that’s the point it becomes cost neutral.”


Kennedy-Good says the natural fit for Neocrete at the moment is in the precast market, and it has been working with Concretec in Auckland and Lattey Group in the lower North Island. The firm also works with Higgins Concrete, Stevenson Concrete and Terry’s Concrete.


“They’re all great operations: they’re forward thinking, they’re looking to grow market share with innovative, sustainable, concrete.

Cost


“We’re currently selling our additive to motivated carbon conscious clients. We will be scaling up production in 2023 and we’re keen to work with businesses and organisations that are interested in coming on a journey with us.”

Kennedy-Good says at the start of their business they looked to get incremental gains on Dr Bazoev’s existing product.


“It’s only really since we both went full time at the start of this year and started hiring people to work in the lab full time that we’ve really made some breakthroughs with that innovation.”


“We developed and have been working on the New Zealand mix and that has been successful in lab trials. What we’re working on with our research and development programme is a full or close to full cement replacement with materials including pozzolans, and they will be from New Zealand.”


Depending on the grade of concrete, Kennedy-Good says they are getting between a 15 and 25 per cent reduction in cement use with the additive.


Neocrete is focusing on using additional pozzolans in a replacement form, to get higher cement reductions of up to 50, 60 and potentially 100 per cent.


“We really want to make New Zealand a centre of innovation for green concrete or sustainable concrete. And we want to attract young people who can learn from the very experienced, older generation of concrete experts and together make this carbon neutral concrete in New Zealand.”

Kennedy-Good says Dr Bazoev has been assisting them from Russia but is coming to New Zealand for the next three years while Neocrete sets up manufacturing capability and scales up its lab here.




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