Harnessing Green Cement and 3D Printing for a Cleaner Climate: A Revolutionary Solution


Carbon negative cement [Source: Novacem]

Charles R. Goulding and Preeti Sulibhavi discuss companies adopting green concrete and collaborations with 3D printing technologies.

Construction results in new homes, commercial buildings and infrastructure, but the environmental impact of the process is often overlooked.

Concrete’s impact on the environment begins when limestone is blasted in quarries to make cement. Then limestone is transported to a cement plant, where the fuels used by the plant and machinery emit carbon dioxide. The limestone, or calcium carbonate, releases CO2 when it is heated to make the cement. Forty percent of CO2 emissions from the cement plant come from the combustion process and sixty percent of CO2 emissions come from the calcination process. Needless to say, the impact on the environment is quite substantial.

There exists a method now for cutting back on the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the construction industry. By incorporating waste materials such as byproducts from power plants, recycled concrete, fly ash, red mud, burned clay, waste glass, combustor ash and foundry sand into cement, a type of sustainable, energy-conserving and low CO2-emitting concrete, known as “green” concrete, can be created. Although the production cost of green concrete is marginally higher than its traditional counterpart, it has the potential to provide significant cost benefits in the long run.

In order to manufacture green concrete, liquid carbon dioxide is sprayed into the mixing drums of concrete trucks. Here, the carbon dioxide reacts with the calcium ions in the cement, resulting in the formation of calcium carbonate, a mineral that is naturally present in concrete. This calcium carbonate functions to lessen the amount of cement needed for construction work, thus reducing emissions by a minimum of 5 percent. Furthermore, it stores the rest of the CO2 emissions that would otherwise have been released into the environment.

It’s crucial to consider that while applying green concrete, structures tend to have a shorter lifespan in comparison to those made with traditional concrete and the reinforcement charges may also be slightly more expensive.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article on the 3rd of November, 2023 called “Green” Concrete Offers Hope on Climate, discussing this innovative construction approach.

The article showcased firms such as CarbonCure Technologies, Vulcan and Heidelberg Materials, who are taking significant steps to lower the sector’s carbon footprint by using green concrete.

Eco Material Technologies

In the town of Round Top, Texas, there’s a residential project known as the Caistas @ Halles that includes five 3D printed dwellings. The cement used for these constructions was eco-friendly, which makes the houses environmentally friendly and constructed from a cement mixture that has almost no carbon.

A statement was made by Danny Gray, P.E., the Executive Vice President for Business Operations and Strategy at Eco Material Technologies, about their sustainable construction material, PozzoCEM Vite. He said, “This environmentally friendly construction material replaces the use of traditional portland cement entirely, leading to a significant decrease in the product’s carbon footprint.” Eco Material, an Utah-based company, manufactures the PCV green cement product. This product releases about 90% less emissions than regular, portland cement during its creation while also setting much faster during application — in just a few minutes compared to the 4-6 hours for portland cement.

Eco Material collaborated with the Houston-based company, Hive3D, a pioneer in automated construction. They tailored their low-carbon material for the 3D printing of five, single-story buildings at The Casitas.

3D printed house constructed from eco-friendly cement [Source: Hive3D]

Subsidiary of HeidelbergCement – Italcementi

HeidelbergCement has been enhancing the formulation of green concrete to suit the 3D printers chosen for their construction undertakings, ensuring sustainability and more efficient construction. The work started in 2018 when Italcementi, a subsidiary of Heidelberg, joined the 3D HOUSING 05 project during Milan Design Week to create and prototype a 100 square-meter house. This was 3D printed on-site by a robot utilizing green concrete.


From 2019, Holcim started working with COBOD to enhance its unique ink, “TectorPrint,” tailored for 3D printer applications. Numerous innovative building projects have resulted from the successful partnership between Holcim and COBOD. These include 3D-printed windmill tower bases with GE, the first-ever 3D-printed school in Malawi, and the biggest 3D-printed affordable housing project in Africa, located in Kenya.

Holcim’s President, Edelio Bermejo, who is also the Head of Global R&D, made a remark that, “At Holcim, we continually increase our variety of building solutions to construct better with less, aiming to enhance living standards sustainably for everyone. 3D concrete printing will assist us in achieving these objectives. Alongside COBOD, we anticipate expanding our TectorPrint series of unique 3D printing ink.”

This collaboration on numerous 3D printing cement projects underscores the feasibility of utilizing green concrete for such initiatives. This approach will help to save time, cut costs, and reduce carbon emissions.

Holcim 3D printed, sustainable home design with COBOD [Source: Contour Crafting]


To date, ICON’s Vulcan construction system has 3D printed several housing communities in Mexico and Texas. The homes are stronger, longer-lasting than those built with traditional materials such as wood, and are constructed quicker with less waste and harmful emissions. We have covered homes built by ICON previously on Fabbaloo.

ICON Vulcan 3D printer construction system for homes [Source: M3Design]


Cemex Ventures is pushing technology boundaries in the construction industry, including the utilization of 3D printing materials such as cement.

The company has broadened its collaboration with COBOD to cultivate a new batch of unique admixtures, termed D.fab. These enable conventional concrete to be effectively tailored for 3D printing construction. In their initiative to lower the carbon footprint of their 3D printing constructions, Cemex is cooperating with COBOD on creating novel materials and optimizing mix preparation. They are also investing in decarbonization strategies, with an emphasis on carbon capture, usage, storage, alternative fuels, and hydrogen-related solutions.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

The enduring Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit is available for corporations that are investing in the creation of new or enhanced products, processes and/or software.

The incorporation of 3D printing can significantly uplift a company’s R&D Tax Credits. Salaries of technical staff who are involved in generating, testing and refining 3D printed prototypes can be calculated as a portion of qualified time for the R&D Tax Credit. Similarly, the time dedicated to incorporating 3D printing hardware and software in efforts to enhance a process also qualifies as eligible activity. Moreover, when utilized for modeling and pre-production, the expenses borne for filaments used during the developmental stages may also be redeemable.

Whether leveraged for generating and putting prototypes to test, or for the final stage of production, 3D printing stands as a solid indicator of activities eligible for R&D Credit. Corporations bringing this technology onboard at any stage should contemplate leveraging the benefits of R&D Tax Credits.

No Time to Waste…

The construction industry has earned a reputation for its significant carbon emissions. However, the advent of green concrete presents a possibility to counter this trend. The sphere of 3D printing technology can adopt an eco-friendly approach by incorporating green cement in the conceptualization of cement 3D printers.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

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