General Questions and Answers

The reason we have questions and answer sections on our web site is that we get a lot of emails and many of the questions asked in them as well as answers are repetitive. By referring to a previous answer we can save our precious time and money.

Ref. No.: Date: Question/Statement: Answer/Response
43 31 Mar 10

Can you please quote on your cement per tonne?

Our cements are a blending system (see Q & A 42) We therefore only export magnesia or arrange supply through a number of partners around the world who manufacture suitable grades.

 

42 31 Mar 10

"Please send us a bag of your cement"

We get repeated requests to send people a bag of our cement.

Our cements are in fact a blending system between reactive magnesia (MgO) and a hydraulic cement. The proportion of MgO can vary immensely depending on engineering requirements and so you need to take the time to try and understand the system and the huge implications for cement and concretes before making such a simple request because for us such requests are diffcult to respond to unless you are very specific about the intended use.

41 1 Dec 07

Grancrete

I've been reading about a MgK cement developed at Argonne and sold as Grancrete in the US. Is this a similar material to what you have been developing?

Grancrete is a building technology from Argonne National Laboratory in the US and is 50% sand or sandy soil, 25 % fly ash and 25 % magnesium phosphate binder. Grancrete is not directly related to TecEco cements and is an example of a chemical cement.

There is nothing particularly new about it as magnesium phosphate cements have been known for years. They are however excellent binders being very waterproof and to some extent fire proof. Phosphate is however in short supply globally so their implementation will be limited.

40 09 May 07

Global Warming

For Canada global warming is much preferred to global cooling. The last time we had global cooling the present day site of the city of Calgary was covered in one kilometer of ice. Not many people here want a return to this type of climate.

What is to be avoided is climate change. The Holocene (the last 12 thousand years) has been the most climatically stable period in the history of earth. It has been this climatic stability which has allowed civilisation to evolve. With a slight overall warming wind and current patterns will change and parts of Canada may be very different from the way they are now. Overall the weather will be much wilder with tornados and storms much more frequent.

To simplistically state that Canada will be better off with a rise in temperature is avoiding the scientific consensus and suggests of a wish to return to our wild climatic past. It is true that warmer temperatures could provide some benefits including longer growing seasons in the summer, less demand for heating in the winter and that Canadians may be better equipped to deal with the impacts of climate change than many parts of the developing world, however there are downsides.

Canada's boreal forest will retreat northwards or to higher elevations and undergo an extensive reduction in size, as grasslands and temperate deciduous species invade from the south.. Warmer temperatures will create conditions for more severe weather events, including thunderstorms and an increased frequency of tornadoes, with attendant risk to life and property. Drier conditions and warmer temperatures could also cause more frequent forest fires. More frequent heat waves will affect the health of Canadians, especially in cities.

Water levels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are expected to decline. Major impacts will also include a decrease in both groundwater and surface water; impacts on the shoreline and associated port facilities; and a decrease in shipping capacity. In 1964, low water levels caused a $35 million loss for Great Lakes shipping and hydropower, and one-third of municipalities along the lakes had water supply problems.

Climate change can be expected to have a significant impact on fisheries in Canada reducing both the productivity of fish populations and how they are distributed throughout lakes, streams, and oceans with a general dyeing out or migration northwards. In Canada's North, melting permafrost will likely affect infrastructure and transportation, including the integrity of foundations (pipelines, bridges and buildings), water control structures, ice-roads and, the melting of the assumed impermeable permafrost beds of mine-tailing ponds and landfill sites. Climate change poses significant threats to unmanaged ecosystems in Canada, including wetlands, permafrost areas, and the Southern Arctic Ecozone.

I conclude by saying quite categorically that it is better to try and stay with what we know.

39 09 May 07

Evaporative Cooling

Tell us how permecocrete or any other pervious pavement cools the surrounds through evaporation

According to Wikipedia "Evaporative cooling is a physical phenomenon in which evaporation of a liquid, typically into surrounding air, cools an object or a liquid in contact with it. Latent heat describes the amount of heat that is needed to evaporate the liquid; this heat comes from the liquid itself and the surrounding gas and surfaces." Molecules or atoms in a gaseous state have more energy than in a liquid or solid state. During evaporation this energy is extracted from the molecules remaining in the liquid and the surrounds as only higher energy molecules escape the liquid. Evaporative cooling is most effective if the humidity is low.

38 09 May 07

Differential Calcination of Dolomite

Can dolomite be used to make Eco-Cement?

Dolomite can be differentially calcined to give MgO plus CaCO3. Fluxes such as common salt make this easier.

There are ways of separating MgO from dolomite but they involve a lot of processing and rely on the different solubilities of the two ions or differing reactions.

37 04 Jan 07

Renders for Straw Bale Construction

Tell us about Eco-Cement renders for a straw bale home

Eco-Cements are easy to use and ideal for straw bale construction for a number of reasons. Probably most important are the high workability, low sag and high stick that they have. The reasons for these advantageous properties are related to the rheological properties which are strongly influenced by the high surface charge on the magnesium ion and the particle packing of the material. It is also worth noting that with most aggregates a little magnesium oxide goes a long way with 1:2: 12-18 mixes not being uncommon.

36 04 Jan 07

Accelerators

What accelerators work for Eco-Cement

A range work. As to which work the best that is proprietary information.

35 04 Jan 07

Setting time Eco-Cement

Can the setting time for Eco-Cement be reduced as it can in Portland cement by using accelerators?

The short answer is yes and most of the so called "accelerators" for PC work with MgO. Be wary however as many of them actually take part in reactions and have product that remains in the concrete. Sulfate for example forms magnesium oxy sulfate with magnesium.

34 04 Jan 07

Setting time Eco-Cement

How does the setting time for Eco-Cement compare with portland cement?

Somewhat slower with the rate depending on the proportion reactive magnesia and permeability.

33 18 Dec 06

Please provide formulations

Please send formulations so we can make Eco-Cement

Unless the aggregates for Eco-Cement concretes are properly graded to allow CO2 access they will not strengthen. It follows that making good Eco-Cement concretes requires an understanding of particle packing, carbonation kinetics and a number of other issues as well including how to handle concrete. Making Eco-Cement concretes is something even the British Research Establishment (BRE) could not successfully achieve so we do recognise we have a problem.

To resolve the issue we can currently provide advice and finances permitting will provide software to allow licensed users to formulate successful Eco-Cements.

To become a licencee of TecEco it will be necessary to first approach us and if we agree to sign the Testing Agreement with Option to Licence and Confidentiality Agreement under legal on our web site.

32 18 Dec

Importance and Inspiration

Why is the technology so important and what was your inspiration?

.The solution to our excess emissions of carbon dioxide is to use the gas. My inspiration was nature where carbon is a scarce resource as a construction material. Making man made carbonate using Gaia Engineering tececology employing our Tec-Kiln and Eco-Cements we can solve the problem..

31 18 Dec 06

Samples

Please send a sample of your Eco-Cement and any relevant technical information

One of our problems as a small company is that we do not have the resources to send out samples. Furthermore there would be little point as there are many input variables and even more output variables depending on the engineering specifications. Eco-Cement concretes are a whole system in which the aggregates, which could be wastes are just as important as the binder. Indeed if they are incorrectly graded carbonation cannot occur and Eco-Cement Concretes will not gain strength.

To get over this problem we are developing software (funding permitting) that will help users correctly formulate.

Any other technical information is on the web site. E.g. simple explanations or under products. Much more technical material is under the RD & D

30 1 Aug 06

Government?

Are any politicians supporting your work ?

In relation to politicians supporting my technologies, I did get a mention in the British parliament which led to a review of my technologies by the BRE (British Research Establishment.) Unfortunately the review was stacked by researchers aligned to the existing concrete industry and they could not overcome the indoctrinated beliefs that my technologies challenge. I have written to ministers and made representations to high levels of government, so far without success. I feel that the most likely reason for this has been lack of understanding of the principles or potential of my ideas rather than any political ideology. Another problem is that politicians generally have a very short term view tempered by elections.

29 1 Aug 06

Government?

How far behind is the Australian Governments thinking with regard to support for eco-friendly developments compared with other countries?

Where Australia falls down against other countries I believe is in providing an eco-friendly policy environment. Even with grant assistance for product development, it is a very rare sustainability invention that can immediately compete with industries that do not have to pay their fair share of the costs caused by their damage to the environment, and if you can't demonstrate that you will compete, you can't get private or government investment to enter the market and prove that you can.   As an economist, I dispute the current government's assertion that enforcing sustainability policies such as emissions trading, carbon taxes, the Kyoto Protocol and the like are too costly for our economy to bear. A proper market re-adjustment will create new and growing industries and stimulate economic development beyond any short term increase in costs to the existing infrastructure and systems. As an example fridges now are more efficient and less costly than they were before instruments banning CFC's came into force.

28 1 Aug 06

Government?

What sort of funding you currently receive?

The extent of support we have received (and indeed all I have applied for) has been limited to the R&D tax concession, which has been very much appreciated but as we now enter a proof of concept and early commercialisation phase for our technologies, the concession does not provide the level of up-front funding required to progress beyond a small scale operation. Too many Government innovation initiatives appear to assist larger, low investment risk entities in established markets at the expense of those with the freedom to pursue greater innovation. In regard to the level of funding overall for research and development, I have built up a valuable network of professionals in my field who generously give their time to validate and promote my ideas on a casual basis but they also are limited in the resources they can give to further my cause by the pressure on them to achieve commercialisation objectives and secure funding in their own lines of work. If any area of assistance for innovative technologies requires development, I feel it is this hurdle of quickly getting your technology professionally and scientifically (and as unequivocally as possible) validated to a standard where challenges are stopped before they begin and doors are opened in government and industry.

27 1 Aug 06

Barriers to Development?

I'm curious as to some of the barriers that you have faced in promoting Eco-Cement?

Progress on achieving our goals has been slower than we would have hoped. Some of the barriers have included:

  • lack of funds from private and government sources
  • skeptics in an industry that has been commercially successful with a virtually unchanged product for a hundred years
  • difficulties communicating the technical aspects of our message, and
  • a policy framework on sustainability issues that concentrates on the perceived costs of change and not the opportunities.
  • a globalistic framework that does not cater for issues not handled adequately in markets.
26 18 June 06

Chemical Reactions ?

Can Eco-Cement be a net carbon sink with the inclusion of organically derived fibres such as hemp?

Absolutely - have a look at our LCA under tools on the web site and you will see that it can be a carbon sink even without.

25 18 June 06

Chemical Reactions ?

Why do magnesium and calcium carbonate form more readily in permeable concretes made using TecEco Eco-Cements containing magnesia than in concretes containing only Portland cement (PC) as the binder?

We think this is because the CSH lattice provides nucleation sites with access for carbonation. i.e an open structure on which nculeation can occur that provides access to CO2 .

 

24 18 June 06

Chemical Reactions ?

Does a higher short term pH contribute to more affective pozzolanic and other silicification reactions, and, if so, why?

Most reactions occur in solution as diffusion reaction mechanisms are hopelessly slow. The solubility and hence reactivity of silica is entirely dependent on the pH as any pH solubility curve would show. More silica is soluble at very low and very high pH.

23 18 June 06

Chemical Reactions ?

What chemical reaction takes place between Eco-Cement and soil during the formation of Eco-Cement Mud Bricks?

If you only knew how complex this question is. The reactions depend totally on the components in the soil and in particular the kinds of clays. Pozzolanic CSH, brucite and nesquehonite form. We also suspect magnesium look alike's to ettringite or hydrogarnet.

22 16 May 06

Cost Benefit Study

I have yet to see a holistic cost benefit Eco study including the good effects of global warming - can you point me to one?

We typed the question into google and many pages of references that state they are "holistic cost-benefit analyses" on climate change were found by the search engine. Unfortunately much as I would like to, a comparative study and report on these numerous references is beyond my capacity. Any volunteers?

In relation to the good effects of global warming it is simplistic to be thinking that a couple of degrees is nothing and plants will grow better. The point is that the earth is like a giant kettle to some extent. One or two degrees on average means several more degrees at the poles. We have a vested interest in the infrastructure and trappings of civilisation and the considerable melting of our ice caps that will follow will flood many of our cities. Dry lands may become drier and wet areas wetter. Like a warming kettle air and water currents will increase in rate and the climate will be much wilder and erratic. Do we want that?

21 16 May 06

Climate Change

If you look at the temperature record for the whole of the holocene it is currently average and there are huge fluctuations.

Compared to the last 8,000 years there is definitely a recent warming but compared to the whole of the holocene we seem to be about average.

Given the above facts I agree climate change has been with us for many millennia. A good book covering most of the holocene is "Climate Change in Prehistory The End of the Reign of Chaos" by William Burroughs [1].

See also newsletter 63 where we discuss past climate in more detail and the relationship to CO2 in the air. The point we try to make in the newsletter is that there is a relationship between the composition of the atmosphere and the climate and they have been connected in the past. The rate of change of atmospheric composition is faster right now than it has been for as long as we have ice core records which is some 15 thousand years according to Burroughs..

Whether you think global warming is happening or not I look at it in the following manner. You are deaf and in a long rail tunnel, it is dark and a wind starts blowing through the tunnel. Do you step to the side or keep walking along. Is it a normal wind or is it the wind caused by a freight train coming your way very quickly? You will not know until it passes you but precaution would dictate that you stand aside.

It is the same with global warming and climate change. Whether we are right or wrong, living more sustainably has to be a good thing. We are now planetary engineers whether we like it or not and have to therefore act accordingly.

20 16 May 06

Climate Change

Since the end of the last ice age we have been in an overall warming phase.

Not completely true. Some the coldest years that for example drove the Norse out of Greenland were from about 1400 to 1700. Ice cores show a variable climate rather than a gradual warming. What is alarming about the most recent 30 years of so is the incredible fast rate of change.

19 16 May 06

Climate Change

The climate has never been static as scientists seem to now want.

You are correct, climate change has always been with us and any scientist worth his/her salt would recognise this fact. The Carboniferous and late Permian were for example periods of significant global warming. What worries me about the present episode is the rate of change which is in the order of twenty time that in previous epochs.

18

27 April 06

Impact ?

What is the impact the innovation has had upon changing the nature of the way Australians live and work?

At this point in time we have had very little impact. Many people want to do something about sustainability but nobody with money, power or both has yet caught on to the potential of using carbon and waste to build the built environment as of yet. When our simple messages are recognised and our teachings catch on I may well be dead. Either way, who am I to judge the impact the innovation has had?

17 27 April 06

Key Persons ?

Who are the key persons involved in the development of this innovation?

This is the question that in response to I would like to thank all those people out there who are supporting us including the 100,000 a month who visit our web site, the 20,000 who in six weeks downloaded one of my papers and all our other supporters - you keep me going!. To my shareholders - thank you for your support as without you there would not have been enough money to do anything. To my family, thanks for putting up with me - I know I have become a boorish workaholic. I will not name people as I would be sure to miss someone; to those that have worked for the company - thanks for your efforts, we appreciate you.

16 27 April 06

Problems Overcome?

Please provide a concise overview of the development of this innovation. Including problems that you (John Harrison) had to overcome?

We have not overcome all our problems yet and are not yet commercial. There have been many issues including finance, how to stretch a day into a week, stop people trying to steal our ideas and keep up with, let alone respond to all the nonsense a few are writing about us.

If the above was not enough, as the inventor and managing director I have had to relearn chemistry, engineering, marketing, economics and a number of other disciplines I had long since forgotten since university days or never knew. All this is tiring but as I keep telling myself - I've broad shoulders! What keeps me going is the knowledge that I am making a significant contribution to the planet, that what I have invented is important enough to devote my life to. The encouragement I receive from a large number of enlightened people makes it all bearable.

15 25 Jan 06

Implementation in China

Do you plan to implement in China? If so how?

We are a research and development company and thus do not implement.our technologies. We rely on others to do so. We hope some day to convince a large company that we are right and get there.

Our Tec-Cement technology would be suitable for slabs and other structural work and Eco-Cement technology for components including mud bricks, concrete blocks, foamed concrete, mortars, renders pervious pavement etc.

China has a lot of magnesia however I would have to be assured it was very reactive before using it in a Tec-Cement concrete[1]. Eco-Cements on the other hand are more forgiving. Our preference is however to make reactive magnesia[1] from sea water using Gaia Engineering

Because what we have is a holistic system and there is no single formulation it is not easy to give specific engineering data. We can however usually formulate to a specific engineering requirement and plan to produce software to make formulation easier and more exact.

Generally Tec-Cement concretes have better rheology (are easy to finish even with high proportions of added fly ash) shrink much less and are a lot more durable. Eco-Cement concretes on the other hand set by carbonation and are thus close to carbon neutral. If CO2 is captured during manufacture they are potentially significant carbon sinks.

14 07 Apr 05

Creativity?

Please explain how TecEco technology helps the desert biome?

All the world's biomes together form the biosphere which supports life. For Information on biomes visit http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/glossary/gloss5/biome/index.html

Deserts cover about one fifth of the Earth’s surface and occur where rainfall is less than 50 cm/year. Other biomes in the biosphere include forests, tundra, grasslands and the aquatic zone. TecEco reduce the impact of human activities on the biosphere by utilising wastes and reducing the amount of CO2, which causes global warming, released to the atmosphere. Pervious pavements using Eco-Cements would return much needed water to our aquifers.

13 04 Mar 05

Creativity?

What creativity was associated with the development of Eco-Cement?

John Harrison is known for his ability to think laterally and creatively. He has after all created a whole new paradigm of materials and put together a solution to our problems of global warming and waste.

12 04 Mar 05

Historical and cultural influences?

Were there any historical and cultural influences that affected the innovation of Eco-Cement?

The techno-process which is driven by fossil fuels started with James Watt and the steam engine in 1769. Since that time we have been consuming carbon that has been locked away for billions of years so that the rate of increase of the gas in the atmosphere is 10 times that ever previously detected from the geological record.

As we live in a market driven world it was essential to find an economic solution to the world's problems and that is what TecEco have done.

11 04 Mar 05

Societal Impact?

How do you think Eco-Cement has impacted society?

Many people want to do something positive about global warming and waste and Eco-Cements concrete products will allow them to exercise consumer choice favouring greater sustainability.

Sequestration on a massive scale using TecEco Eco-Cement technology is politically more acceptable than rationing.

10 04 Mar 05

Impact of emerging technologies?

What is the impact of emerging technologies on Eco-Cement?

TecEco Eco-Cement technology is unique and not influenced by any other new and emerging technology. The TecEco kiln will be constructed using geopolymer.

9 24 Feb 05

What are the political factors?

If we want to solve sustainability problems we are going to have to do everything we can. In relation to global warming there are three main choices, carbon rationing, carbon trading and sequestration on a massive scale. Of these the second and third are politically much more acceptable. For more information go to Document\Political

8

24 Feb 05

How did you get the idea?

What inspired you?.

The idea of using carbon and wastes in building materials came from nature. During earth's geological history large tonnages of carbon were put away as limestone and coal by the activity of plants and animals building homes such as the shells of shellfish and wood in trees. These same plants and animals wasted nothing as food and nutrients moved around and the waste from one was the food or home of another. John concluded that the answer to greenhouse gas and waste was to use them both in building materials.

7 14 Feb 05

Operating in Third World Countries

How do you introduce your technology to a third world economy like Vietnam or China where theft of intellectual property is endemic.

We have been very public about the technology - at least if people cheat, it will be known who they are cheating!

The key is to be very reasonable about what you charge so given the high level of service people will get from us it is not worth cheating!

6 08 Dec 04

Cellulose Fibre

Will your Eco-Cement etc.be able to use agricultural by-product like hemp and bagasse fibre and still be structural?

Our cements are fundamentally suited for this purpose because they are low alkali (See newsletter 41)

5 08 Dec 04

Life Cycle Cost
Actual Cost

Do you have any cost information for life cycle costing? What will the cement cost to consumers/cement manufacturers ?

This question is difficult as we are still in the process of developing a solar powered kiln. Once it is built then our costs are likely to be much less than Portland cement. There is also an economies of scale issue. Global production of Portland cement is in the order of 2 billion tonnes. In comparison the global production of reactive magnesia[1] is only 1.7 million tonnes in 2004[2], insignificant compared to Portland cement at 2 billion tonnes.

We have prepared a spreadsheet which is linked to the Sustainability\Life Cycle Analysis Page.

4 27 Jul 05

Sequestration?

Could you please give an indication of how much carbon dioxide a
certain volume of Eco-Cement will absorb over a certain period of time (say the time until it stops absorbing)?

It depends entirely on the formula of the Eco-Cement and assumptions made. Three examples follow.

Portland Cement
15 mass% Portland cement, 85 mass% aggregate
Net Emissions .32 tonnes to the tonne. After carbonation. Approximately .299 tonne to the tonne.
No Capture
11.25% mass% reactive magnesia, 3.75 mass% Portland cement, 85 mass% aggregate.
Net Emissions .37 tonnes to the tonne. After carbonation. approximately .241 tonne to the tonne.
With Capture CO2
11.25% mass% reactive magnesia, 3.75 mass% Portland cement, 85 mass% aggregate.
Net Emissions .25 tonnes to the tonne. After carbonation. approximately .140 tonne to the tonne.
With Capture CO2 and Using Fly and Bottom Ash
11.25% mass% reactive magnesia, 3.75 mass% Portland cement, 85 mass% aggregate.
Net Emissions .126 tonnes to the tonne. After carbonation. Approximately .113 tonne to the tonne.

3 04 Mar 05

Ethical and Environmental Issues?

What were the ethical and environmental issues relating to Eco-Cement?

John Harrison cares a lot about the planet. As a scientist he is concerned about the imbalance in molecular flows underlying materials flows. It is the latter that he is doing something about. He says he has heard enough people say we must do something positive about global warming. TecEco are offering a real and economically viable solution.

2 08 Dec 04

Life Cycle Analysis

Has an LCA been done on TecEco cements? If so, is it available on your web site?

We have a spreadsheet that we use to work out all the energy and carbon with our technology and we check this against a baseline for the manufacture of Portland cement. We basically assume that everything is the same except the calcining energies and efficiency (the decomposition of magnesium carbonate takes place at a much lower temperature and could therefore be assumed to be more efficient.) A new, more flexible version of the spreadsheet has recently been completed and is downloadable under Tools on the web page.

1 31 Aug 04

Operating Status

Why are TecEco a company and not a do-good organisation?

The challenge is to the harness human behaviours which underlay economic supply and demand phenomena by changing the technical paradigm in favour of making carbon dioxide a resource.

[1] Reactive magnesia is also variously known as caustic calcined magnesia, caustic magnesia or CCM. The temperature of firing has a greater influence on reactivity than grind size as excess energy goes into lattice energy.

Technical information about reactive magnesia is available in the technical area of our web site.

[2] O’Driscoll, Mike, Magnesia in a Squeeze, Industrial Minerals, August 2004, pp. 35-46