Napa company developing greener concrete blocks

17 November 2014

Watershed Materials recently received a $743,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to make concrete blocks without cement. In an earlier grant phase, the company produced a masonry block made with only half the regular amount of cement.

Under the grant, the company now seeks to develop both the cement-less blocks and the machinery needed to mass produce them.

“Making cement is second only to automobiles and coal-fired electrical plants in the amount of CO2 it generates,” said Robert Courland, author of the book “Concrete Planet.” Courland said others are also seeking a more durable and environmentally friendly material than today’s concrete.

The company has already developed its Watershed Block, which contains 5% cement, half that of a typical concrete block. The company’s website says the blocks are made with such “supplemental cementitious materials” as fly ash, slag, silica fume and rice husk ash.

According to its news release, Watershed is seeking the right ingredients and process to further reduce the need for cement. It is working to build a press that can apply “compressive forces so great as to actually lithify mineral grains, turning loose sediment into stone.”

By Robert Digitale

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