Inspired by how coral polyps build their skeletons using carbon dioxide in ocean water, an alternative to cement incorporates carbon dioxide into building materials to reduce carbon emissions.
Used in almost all types of infrastructure, concrete is the most popular building material in the world due to its strength, durability and cheap price. However, the process of manufacturing cement – one of its main components being concrete – makes up around 5% – 6% of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, companies such as Fortera have come up with eco-friendly substitutes to concrete with an inspiration from corals.
Coral polyps, which are individual animals in coral, produce calcium carbonate from the carbon dioxide in water to build up the structural skeleton of coral reefs. Similarly, the cement alternative captures carbon dioxide gas to create calcium carbonate in the building material itself. This reduces carbon emissions from 5% to 40%.