SafeRock was established in 2019 as a spin-off from the University of Stavanger with a mission to develop unique and environmentally sustainable building materials. In addition, the venture is set to enable a circular economy within mining tailings/residues.
Ordinary Portland cement (OPC) works as the glue that binds the aggregates in concrete together. The manufacturing rate has grown to more than 4 bn metric tonnes per year to give a market value of approx. € 350 bn p.a. The OPC industry is, however, facing challenges caused by its use of energy resources and CO2 emissions. OPC production is responsible for 6-8% of all man-made global carbon emissions – approx. 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2.
As an interesting alternative to OPC, SafeRock is developing a geopolymer concrete (GPC) based on mining wastes. To enhance the value proposition further, the proposed innovation effort will optimize the GPC mix design to include graphene nano-materials developed by the Estonian company Up Catalyst OÜ, in addition to broading the choice of applicable hardeners to produce carbon-negative concrete.
The effort is also set to improve the upscaling potential by catering to initial technical requirements, health and environmental requirements, and market requirements.
The current Technology Readiness Level (TRL) for the graphene geopolymer is assessed to be at TRL 3 based on SafeRock’s experience with geopolymers, and Up Catalyst’s background from developing synthetic graphite, graphene and various catalysts. During the course of the project, our ambition is to reach TRL 6 or even TRL 7.
We believe the proposed project has the right profile for Eurostars based on its significant ambition and match with EU policies and priorities with respect to business, environmental and societal value. The foreseen solution will deliver a market first offering, partly disrupting existing markets by substituting OPC, and potentially also opening new markets for green building materials.