Limburg company produces building blocks from CO2

Limburg company produces building blocks from CO2
Credit: Masterbloc/Facebook

Masterbloc, a building block company based in Maasmechelen, has produced a building material from steel slag left over from the steel industry, according to Het Belang van Limburg. The aim was to create a block which stores CO2 and can help boost the circular economy, company CEO Bjorn Gubbels says.

At its factory, some 8- tonnes of so-called “CO2-bound” building blocks are built per day, accounting for a yearly output of 15,000 tonnes per year. Unlike other materials which have a net negative impact on CO2 emissions, Masterbloc’s product is CO-2 negative, with more CO2 absorbed during production than emitted.

The company plans to rapidly expand production of the building materials in the coming years, with the production process being presented to Flemish Minister Zuhal Demir on 15 December.

Masterbloc utilises technology from Genk-based recycling company Orbix, which has been processing steel slag from stainless steel producer Aperam since 1996.

In 2004, Orbix’s R&D manager, Dirk Van Mechelen, discovered that steel slag residue was hardening after exposure to CO2. Alongside researchers from the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), the technology was further developed in 2011 and the “Crabstone” process was patented.

“Carbstone has numerous advantages”, explains Serge Celis, CEO of Orbix. “Thanks to Carbstone, we convert metal slag into a high-quality circular product and, since CO2 is used as a binder, we avoid using cement, which accounts for 10% of global CO2 emissions.

Credit: Masterbloc/Facebook

The technology is becoming increasingly popular with companies seeking to reduce their CO2 emissions and their material is well regarded as a building material, having the same quality as conventional blocks.

“There is another important advantage. By using CO2 as a binder, we are no longer dependent on cement prices,” CEO Gubbels said.

The Carbstone technology is not only used for building blocks. The technology has been utilised to make roofing tiles, bricks, and clinkers. Interest in the technology is reaching new highs and Orbix is ready to launch products across the world.

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Masterbloc is not the only Belgian company to make use of Orbix’s technology. Limburg-based Vandersanden Steenfabrieken has also started to build a factory to produce CO2-negative facing bricks in cooperation with concrete companies Tubobel and Prefer.

Carbstone blocks are already being used in Mechelen, where they are an important material in the renovation of offices around the Public Waste Agency of Flanders’ headquarters.

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