Advancing a Low Carbon Built Environment With Inherent Utilization of Waste Concrete and CO2 via Integrated Electrochemical, Chemical and Biological Routes (ADVENT)

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OPEN 2021
Ithaca, New York
Project Term:
06/24/2022 - 06/23/2025

Critical Need:

Concrete production contributes to about 8.6% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Concrete materials flow presents another challenge—more than 30 gigatons per year of raw materials are quarried, and 1-2 Gt/yr of waste concrete are generated. The raw materials extraction for cement and concrete production has an environmental impact on the communities from where these materials are typically mined. The current global market of raw recycled concrete for reuse as building materials is below 10 megatons/yr. Enhancing the use of waste concrete will reduce the mining of new materials and could significantly increase the market size for recycled materials. Whole-system innovations in this industry are needed to harness renewable energy, mitigate and where possible, recycle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and enhance the circular reuse of construction materials.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Cornell University will develop a scalable technology to co-utilize waste construction and demolition (C&D) residues and CO2 to produce sustainable construction materials via several closely integrated innovations in cement production. The team will: (1) replace conventional fossil-driven high temperature processes with electrochemical low-temperature modular processes, (2) capture and reuse CO2 emissions to produce calcium carbonate (CaCO3) by using the inorganic components of C&D materials, (3) harness hydrogen and CaCO3 from organic constituents of C&D materials, and (4) manufacture reagents such as citrate and glycinate, useful for capturing CO2 and dissolving waste construction materials, by electromicrobially fixing CO2 and nitrogen.

Potential Impact:

If successful, this project will be a competitive and transformative technology that replaces thermally intensive processes for producing construction materials with integrated electrochemical and chemical approaches that co-utilize CO2 emissions and construction and demolition materials. It will:


Pave the way for distributed, on-demand synthesis of sustainable construction materials.


Replace fossil fuel-driven thermally intensive processes for cement production with renewable energy-driven, low-temperature electrochemical technologies with inherent reuse of construction and demolition materials and CO2.


Recover > 90% calcium from construction and C&D materials to produce CaCO3 for cementitious materials.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Douglas Wicks
Project Contact:
Prof. Greeshma Gadikota
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Columbia University
Reaction Engineering International
Carnegie Mellon University

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