Agrocrete™: Reversing Climate Change
Human population, contrary to popular belief, isn't growing the way it was 50 years ago (see this). If anything, the problem is with humans living longer than they ever did. The average life expectancy is now at its highest, adding tremendous demand for resources on the planet. This presents a new set of problems, biggest of which is housing them all; second biggest is feeding them. But, when an unconventional approach is taken, there is a way to impact the planet, positively.
It is expected that 2 billion new homes will be added to the world by 2100 (source). This adds further stress to the already overstressed global ecological balance. Furthermore, the built environment is already responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions. With more than 50% of the built environment being buildings, they are collectively the single largest emitters of carbon dioxide. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate those emissions.
On the other hand, we have already cleared large areas of forests to grow food, putting several gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The recurring downside to growing food is the generation of residues. But crop resides are essentially, at the molecular level, long chains of carbon compounds accumulated from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through the plant's photosynthesis process. So what's the problem then?
There is no denying the fact that to remove anthropogenic carbon emissions we need to rely on natural phenomena such as photosynthesis, which by far is the most effective carbon dioxide removal mechanism. The problem occurs when we burn these crop residues, which then again releases carbon dioxide. In 2017, globally, about 500 million tons of crop residues were burned, emitting 700 million tons of carbon dioxide (source).
Two alarming issues when looked at individually, but complementing solutions when looked at together. How? One word. Agrocrete™.
Agrocrete™ is a carbon negative building material developed by GreenJams™. It is comprised of crop residues and a lime-based binder, and is used for walling and flooring applications. We have developed it in such a manner that, functionally, it surpasses most conventional building materials in almost every measure. It is strong, light weight and durable.
Most importantly, it plays a very important climate change mitigation role. The manufacturing process is extremely simple and is comprised of 3 broad steps.
The crop residues are collected from the fields;
They are combined with our proprietary lime-based binder and water in a manufacturing facility;
The wet mix is then cast into block moulds and left out to cure naturally in the air.
So how does making Agrocrete™ help exactly?
As discussed before, crop residues are essentially long chains of carbon compounds resulting from the plant's natural photosynthesis process. While humans grow crops for their fruit, grain, seed, fibre, etc. the major portion of the harvested crop is, in effect, a carbon stock. We collect this residue from the fields before they are decomposed or burned and we process them in a manner where the carbon remains intact within the residues. These processed residues, as outlined before, are combined with our lime-based binder to make Agrocrete™. As a result, carbon in the form of crop residues is entombed inside a wall or floor made with Agrocrete™, making it carbon-negative. Meaning, the net carbon emissions from manufacturing Agrocrete™ products are in the negative values; consuming carbon dioxide rather than emitting it.
Now imagine this on a global scale. Remember how it was mentioned earlier that 2 billion new homes will be added to the planet? If all of those homes were made of Agrocrete™, we could potentially remove 17 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and reverse climate change.
How about that‽