Last week, CarbonCure Technologies CEO, Robert Niven, was recognised as one of Canada’s ’Top 40 Under 40’s’, a dynamic award programme that identifies outstanding young achievers in Canadian business.
The award recognises in particular, Niven’s achievements in founding and scaling CarbonCure Technologies – a retrofit process which reuses carbon dioxide (CO2), to enhance the sustainability and profitability of the global concrete and cement sector.
gasworld spoke with Niven to commend him on his award, and to find out where the CarbonCure concept derived from and where it’s heading.
Congratulations! What does this recognition mean to you?
The Top 40 Under 40 Award coincides with CarbonCure’s 10-year anniversary. It feels incredible to be recognised for all of our hard work. I’m truly honoured to be in a cohort with such accomplished leaders. Each one of them is truly inspirational.
Can you give me an insight into your industry background? How have you got to where you are today?
I studied chemistry and got my master’s degree in civil engineering from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. While at McGill, I met Sean Monkman – CarbonCure’s current Vice-President, Technology Development – who was also studying at McGill in the civil engineering department. From there, CarbonCure was born, and we’ve since built the company to be a global leader in CO2 utilisation.
I had the privilege to attend the several United Nation’s Climate Change Conferences (COP). Speakers stressed the need for more sustainable process and products. Ultimately, we started to see the importance of commercialising our ideas and making it the technology widely available across the concrete industry.
We knew we needed capital for a lab, so we started a carbon management consulting company called Carbon Sense Solutions. This eventually evolved into CarbonCure Technologies. Our first successful product was a technology application for concrete masonry (blocks), and eventually we expanded the technology into the much larger ready mix concrete segment.
Has the technology been installed in any more manufacturing plants since gasworld last spoke to you in February?
Yes, we’ve now installed CarbonCure’s Technology in nearly 60 plants across Canada and the US.
What developments are you currently working on?
CarbonCure is expanding our CO2 utilisation technology platform with new complementary technologies for the cement and concrete sector by identifying opportunities across the entire supply chain. We will be cooperating with multinational corporations to integrate a suite of technologies across that value chain that capture CO2 from cement and reuse it downstream in concrete production. We will be demonstrating the use of this integrated CO2 capture and use model as we compete as semi-finalists in the $20m Carbon XPRIZE challenge this fall.
Do you have any plans to diversify the application of your technology?
According to a study conducted by the Global CO2 initiative in November 2016, the concrete industry offers the biggest opportunity for CO2 utilisation. Specifically, the concrete industry offers approximately $500m in new market opportunities and the potential to reduce global emissions by almost 8%.
We will continue to seek new technology applications in order to offer a broader technology suite to the market.
Lastly, how has Jack Holley been getting on since he joined the CarbonCure team as Vice-President back in May?
Jack continues to be an invaluable addition to the team. He’s already working with numerous customers to maximise the benefit of the technology – customers are really benefitting from his prior experience with Lafarge.