Apr 28, 2022
Brimstone to produce the world’s first carbon-negative portland cement
Breakthrough Energy Ventures and DCVC co-lead a $55 Million Series A round to pilot a process to make carbon-negative portland cement at industrial scales.
OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Brimstone makes Ordinary Portland Cement, chemically and physically identical to conventionally manufactured cement, but without releasing CO2. At scale, Brimstone’s breakthrough will produce cement at or below market prices, solving the problems of both emissions and scarcity of raw materials, and without increasing cost or risk for customers. At scale, Brimstone’s process will be able to supply organizations and governments that want to construct new buildings or replace aging infrastructure but want to use tried and true building materials at an affordable price while also sequestering carbon.
Ordinary Portland Cement—the binder in concrete—is the key structural material in buildings. Cement production is also responsible for around 7.5% of global CO2 emissions or 5.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, about the same as the CO2 produced by all cars world-wide. Brimstone has developed a novel process for making Ordinary Portland Cement that eliminates these emissions.
Cody Finke, the co-founder and CEO of Brimstone, commented, "What sets Brimstone apart in the space is that we are building a new process to make Ordinary Portland Cement carbon-negative, which will be both lower cost and produce the exact same material trusted by builders for 150 years.”
The founders created Brimstone on the belief that reducing CO2 emissions quickly enough to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change requires making cement differently without changing the final product and without relying on versions of carbon sequestration that only add cost. Traditionally, cement has been made from heating limestone (CaCO3) in a high temperature kiln such that it emits its embedded CO2, thereby producing lime (CaO). Brimstone has developed a process that makes Ordinary Portland Cement but sources lime from calcium silicate rocks, which have no embedded CO2, instead of limestone. This new process also produces magnesium species as a waste product, which passively absorb CO2, making the Brimstone process net carbon-negative regardless of the fuel source used in the kiln.
“Cement is a miracle material that lets us build the infrastructure that is the foundation of our society and economy. It also happens to be a significant contributor to CO2 emissions during production,” said Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures. “Not only has Brimstone figured out a way to eliminate the emissions in that process – their innovation creates an opportunity where our built environment could be a net sink for carbon. This means that the buildings and bridges that we build with carbon-negative Brimstone Portland Cement can be a part of the climate solution instead of the intractable liability they are today.”
“Brimstone has discovered how to produce carbon-negative Ordinary Portland Cement—by far and away the most common kind of cement, used in concrete worldwide, but today is responsible for around 7.5% of greenhouse emissions,” said Rachel Slaybaugh, a Principal at DCVC. “We’re excited to continue to back the company as it scales this cost-effective Deep Tech breakthrough that can prevent gigatons of emissions annually.”
“Brimstone’s unique approach to reducing carbon emissions resulting from cement production will be an important step forward not only within the construction industry, but broadly in the fight against climate change,” stated Kara Hurst, Vice President of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon. “We will continue to invest in innovative, forward-looking companies like Brimstone, whose work will help Amazon reach its Climate Pledge goal of reaching net-zero carbon by 2040.”
Brimstone will use this fundraise to build a pilot plant capable of making the first building-scale Ordinary Portland Cement ever made from a calcium silicate rock. Brimstone is actively hiring chemical engineers and people experienced in the cement industry who want to decarbonize it.
“Concrete is the most used material on the planet, and cement is one of the largest contributors to global CO2 emissions,” said Greg Smithies, Fifth Wall partner and co-lead of the Climate Tech Investment team. “If the planet is to get to zero-carbon on any sort of meaningful timeline, we cannot get there unless we fix cement’s CO2 problem. Brimstone is the only company in the world that can make cost-competitive zero-carbon cement. It’s truly a game-changer.“
In addition to building a pilot plant, Brimstone has initiated its partner program and is engaging cement companies, architects, structural engineering firms, and concrete companies and other organizations who want to joint venture on a plant or directly buy industrial quantities of cement. Through its First Builders initiative, this coalition of industry players and early adopters will get early access as Brimstone begins to scale. Contact email@example.com to participate.
Brimstone’s series A financing is co-led by existing investors Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and DCVC with participation from other existing investors, including Collaborative Fund and AccelR8. New investors include Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and Fifth Wall Climate Tech whose limited partners represent the global real estate industry. Other investors include Impact Science Ventures, S2G Ventures, Gatemore Capital Management, Osage University Partners, and SystemIQ.
Brimstone uses proprietary technology to produce the world’s only carbon-negative Ordinary Portland Cement and supplementary cementitious materials. While at Caltech, Co-founders Cody Finke and Hugo Leandri conceived of the vision to decarbonize cement production by inventing better technology to work within the existing cement industry. Brimstone is backed by top investors—including DCVC, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and Collaborative Fund. To learn more or hear about and apply for job opportunities, follow Brimstone on Twitter and LinkedIn at @BrimstoneEnergy, visit the website: www.brimstone.energy, or reach out directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Breakthrough Energy Ventures
Founded by Bill Gates and backed by many of the world’s top business leaders, BEV has raised more than $2 billion in committed capital to support cutting-edge companies that are leading the world to net-zero emissions. BEV is a purpose-built investment firm that is seeking to invest, launch and scale global companies that will eliminate GHG emissions throughout the economy as soon as possible. BEV seeks true breakthroughs and is committed to supporting these entrepreneurs and companies by bringing to bear a unique combination of technical, operational, market and policy expertise.
BEV is a part of Breakthrough Energy, a network of investment vehicles, philanthropic programs, policy advocacy and other activities committed to scaling the technologies we need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Visit www.breakthroughenergy.org to learn more.
DCVC backs entrepreneurs solving trillion-dollar problems to multiply the benefits of capitalism for everyone while reducing its costs. For over twenty years, DCVC and its principals have backed brilliant entrepreneurs applying Deep Tech, from the earliest stage and beyond, to pragmatically and cost-effectively tackle previously unsolvable problems in nearly every industry, especially those that haven’t seen material technological progress in decades. Together, we have created tens of billions of dollars of value while also making the world a markedly better place. Visit dcvc.com to learn more.