Seratech’s Carbon-Neutral Concrete Bags The OBEL AWARD 2022

October 7, 2022



Rick Formalejo

Seratech, a private limited company, has won the OBEL AWARD 2022 for its carbon-neutral concrete. Material researchers and Ph.D. students at Imperial College London, Sam Draper and Barney Shanks have discovered a way to capture carbon from multiple industrial production processes and create an end product that can eliminate the CO2 footprint of concrete.

Concrete has been a favored building material over the years for its durability. However, with the current climate crisis, the material is put in a bad light for its enormous carbon footprint. Minimizing the environmental impact of concrete is a priority in the construction industry. 

The recent OBEL AWARD 2022 recipient captures industrial CO2 emissions directly from flues and produces a carbon-negative cement replacement material–silica. When this silica is used in combination with Portland cement, the carbon capture associated with producing the silica means the concrete products can be zero carbon.

The technology is still at the ‘lab level’. Its advantage, however, is that the raw materials used for Seratech’s products, waste CO2 and the mineral olivine, are naturally abundant globally. The solution also integrates into the existing processes and the equipment used in concrete production. This makes the technology easily implemented in every cement plant worldwide and does not require major shifts in current practices and mindsets. 

Seratech’s product thus has the potential to reduce embodied emissions globally significantly and to support future low-carbon construction. 

“It is such an honor to receive the OBEL AWARD. This visibility will help us attract people in the industry and scale our technology – and scale it rapidly. Humanity can’t afford to spend 20-50 years scaling the technology to give us sustainable materials. It needs to be now,” says Sam Draper upon receiving the award. 

“We want to highlight the importance of collaboration between academia, industry, and the work of architects. That’s why the OBEL AWARD is great because it’s essentially forcing this collaboration, making us take notice of each other, and getting that interdisciplinary work happening. I can’t wait to see some of the brilliant architects take this material and do some weird and wonderful things with it,” shares Barney Shanks.

The OBEL AWARD Jury explains that Seratech is working on an ambitious yet simple solution for how to make carbon-neutral concrete. Importantly, the technology can be integrated into the existing processes and production lines globally. 

They believe it is necessary to encourage ambitious cross-disciplinary ideas that do not just provide a temporary or a small-scale fix nor an unrealistic major shift in current practices. We wish for the OBEL AWARD to act as an incentive and inspiration to everyone in the construction industry to work together for a zero-carbon future.

The OBEL AWARD is a new international prize for architectural achievement presented annually by the Henrik Frode Obel Foundation. Seratech joins other winners from previous years, including the 15-minute city concept by Professor Carlos Moreno (2021), Anandaloy, a community building made from mud in Bangladesh by Anna Heringer (2020), and Junya Ishigami’s Water Garden in Japan (2019).

The award ceremony will happen at the Utzon Centre in Aalborg, Denmark, on October 25, 2022. The winners will receive a sum of EUR 100,000 and a unique work of art by artist Tomás Saraceno as a trophy.

Photos courtesy of OBEL AWARD

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