Partanna (Partanna Global), an American green tech company founded in 2021, develops manganese oxide (MgO)-based cements with low carbon footprint and the capacity to capture carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere. The cement blocks produced by Partanna’s technology can absorb CO₂ 100 times faster than regular Portland cement blocks. Each Partanna block generates 14.3 kg of carbon credits. Thus, Partanna is able to generate the most valuable carbon credits on the current market.
Challenges: carbon emissions in cement industry
Carbon emissions in cement industry
Cement is the most widely used substance on Earth. When mixed with water, it forms concrete which is used to construct buildings, roads, dams, and bridges. However, the cement industry is responsible for about 8% of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, which is significantly more than carbon emissions from global aviation.
Cement production is a major source of CO₂ emissions. This is because the production of cement involves a chemical reaction called calcination, in which limestone (CaCO₃) is heated to over 1400 ºC in a kiln to produce lime (CaO). This process releases CO₂. Additionally, the cement production also requires large amounts of energy to heat the kiln and grind the raw materials into the fine powder that is used to make cement. The energy required for cement production comes mainly from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, which also releases CO₂ into the atmosphere.
As the kiln process and grinding equipment have become more efficient, the thermal energy and electricity intensities of cement production have gradually decreased over the past few decades. The average CO₂ intensity of cement production has decreased by 18% globally over the past few decades. However, the sector’s emissions as a whole have risen significantly, with demand tripling since 1990. The demand for cement is expected to increase as global urbanization and economic development increase the demand for new buildings and infrastructure.
Challenges in reducing carbon emissions from cement production
One of the main challenges in reducing carbon emissions from cement production is the difficulty in cutting emissions from the chemical processes used to make cement and concrete. These processes release CO₂. Although there are measures that can be taken to reduce emissions, such as the use of alternative fuels, improvements in energy efficiency, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, these measures are insufficient to fully address the problem.
Another challenge is the need to reduce cement usage as well as make the process cleaner. One way of doing that is by switching to timber, which is a more sustainable building material. However, this may not be a practical solution in all cases, and more research is needed to find alternative materials that can replace cement and concrete without compromising the quality of the structures they support.
Moreover, the cement industry often operates away from large industrial clusters, which makes it difficult to connect cement plants to the carbon capture and hydrogen infrastructure that will be developed.
Low-carbon cement technology companies
Some companies are developing carbon-neutral or carbon-negative cement technologies, such as Brimstone Energy and Sublime Systems.
Brimstone Energy has developed a method for producing concrete from Portland cement and supplementary cementitious materials (SCM), such as pozzolan, derived from the same non-limestone rocks or minerals. This significantly simplifies the concrete production process and could potentially reduce production cost. In addition, Brimstone Energy’s concrete production process extracts magnesium compounds that can be used to capture CO₂, thereby reducing CO₂ emission and achieving carbon neutral or even carbon negative.
Sublime Systems develops an approach to producing Portland cement with lower CO₂ emission. The approach uses electrolyzers, which are powered by renewable electricity and operate near ambient temperature, to produce acid and base solutions. The produced acid and base solutions can process various raw materials to generate reactants of the pozzolanic reaction for the formation of the Portland cement.
Partanna has developed low-carbon footprint manganese oxide (MgO)-based cements. The cements do not contain Portland cements. Pratanna MgO-based cements combine with water and produce Portland concrete alternatives that are curable and provide reliable and sustainable constructions. During the curing process, the generated gypsum reacts with atmospheric CO₂. While regular Portland cement also absorbs atmospheric CO₂, artanna’s cement absorbs more. Each Partanna block can absorb CO₂ 100 times faster than a regular Portland cement block.
Consequently, not only does the Partanna’s cement benefit the environment by avoiding the use of Portland cement and directly reducing the carbon footprint, but the creation of gypsum as a result of the curing process can help further remove CO₂ from the atmosphere.
Partanna cements comprise MgO, a primary cementitious component, an accelerant, and fillers and/or other additives. The percentages of dry formulations are roughly depicted approximately in the pie chart below.
In previous attempts to make MgO-based cement, MgO was combined with hydraulic cements and a pozzolan, such as pulverized fuel ash (pfa). When exposed to water, the MgO curable formulations are formulated to increase in strength. However, these MgO cements have encountered numerous problems, such as difficulties in applications related to vertical and other structural build contexts (e.g., cracking, non-hydraulic performance, inability with steel and other metals, etc.). One reason for such structural undermining is attributable to the use of an excessive amount of magnesium chloride (MgCl₂) in such formulations.
To address these issues, Partanna reduces or eliminates MgCl₂ from its formulations. In addition, Partanna combines MgO with slag, certain accelerators and/or other filler and additive materials to produce Portland cement alternative curable formulations that are reliable and sustainable for the construction industry.
- Primary cementitious component
The primary cementitious component comprises slag cement and/or Class C fly ash that is combined with the MgO such that, in the presence of water, the component forms binder on its own. It is a strength-enhancing compound that improves the durability of concrete. Slag cement includes granulated blast-furnace slag, quenched slag or any other slag that is obtained by quenching molten iron slag from a blast furnace and ground to cement fineness.
For example, ground granulated blast-furnace slag is produced by quenching molten iron slag (a by-product of iron and steel-making) from a blast furnace in water or steam to produce a glassy, granular product that is then dried and ground into a fine powder. Ground granulated blast furnace slag is a latent hydraulic binder that, upon contact with water, forms calcium silicate hydrates.
Accelerants help decrease setting time and increase early-age strength gain once the dry formulations are combined with water. These accelerants include magnesium-based material, such as magnesium sulfate (MgSO₄) or magnesium nitrate (Mg(NO₃)₂). They can be in a dry crystalline form: MgSO₄∙7H₂O and Mg(NO₃)₂∙7H₂O. Accelerant Mg(NO₃)₂ can protect rebar or any other steel from corrosion.
- Fillers and/or additives
Fillers and other additives provide the final cured product with properties such as fire protection, water protection, corrosion resistance/inhibition, and/or workability. Fillers such as aggregate (e.g., coarse aggregate, intermediate aggregate, fine aggregate, etc.), clay, pumice or other volcanic rock sand, talc, and other clay material can provide the resulting paste and cured product with the desired density and structural properties.
Fillers and additives can include the following materials: fibers (e.g., steel and/or other metallic fibers, polypropylene and/or other polymeric fibers, glass fibers, asbestos fibers, carbon fibers, organic fibers, etc.), glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP), reinforced polymers, additives that facilitate with fire protection, water protection, corrosion resistance/inhibition, and/or workability of the final cured product, sodium naphthalene sulfonate formaldehyde (SNF) and/or other surfactants, plasticizers, pigments, dyes and other color additives, titanium dioxide, other natural or synthetic materials, and/or other filler materials.
Partanna cement properties
The pH of the paste (the product resulting from combining the corresponding dry formulations with water) and cured product is between 7 and 11. On the other hand, the pH of Portland concrete is typically over 13. When dealing with Portland concrete, individuals need to wear gloves and other protective gear. However, handling with the Partanna cement is safer due to the much lower pH.
The density of the paste is equal or greater than the density of Portland paste. The denser paste can reduce the likelihood of water coming in contact with rebar or other steel/metallic components or members used in connection with a curable product. The strength of the cured product is comparable to the strength of commercially available Portland cement.
Partanna cement applications
Partanna cement can be applied in residential and commercial building construction, walls and other construction panels, airports, dams, levees, bridges, tunnels, harbors, refineries and other industrial sites, parking structures, roadways, tile and other flooring, sidewalks, pipes, channels, and countertops.
Depending on the ability of the final cured product not to damage steel or other metals, Partanna cements may also be used in tensile reinforcement (e.g., to prevent or reduce the likelihood of cracking, breaking and/or other compromising occurrence to the cured product).
- US20210347692A1 Curable formulations for structural and non-structural applications
- US11008252B2 Curable formulations for structural and non-structural applications
In 2022, Partanna company and the Bahamas announced the construction of 1,000 affordable homes using Partanna cements. Each 1,200 square foot home in the development will be able to absorb 50-100% of CO₂ that would be emitted by a home constructed with traditional materials.
In April 2023, Partanna delivered 5,000 pavers built with our carbon-negative technology to cover 1,200 feet at the Bretton Woods Recreation Center in Maryland, resulting in 3.2 carbon avoidance credits compared to traditional cement and generating 7.1 carbon removal credits.
Partanna also sells carbon credits resulting from the production of its concrete. Partanna cement is the first verified building material that generates tradable carbon credits.
Partanna is funded by Cherubic Ventures.
Rick Fox is CEO.
Partanna Board Member and Advisor
Rick Fox is Board Member.