Novacem, a spin-out from the Imperial Innovations Group, has raised more than £1m in equity funding from a syndicate comprising the Imperial Innovations Group, the London Technology Fund and the Royal Society Enterprise Fund.
Novacem is developing a new carbon-negative cement that will help combat global warming by locking atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into construction materials.
Cement production produces more than five per cent of mankind’s CO2 emissions. These emissions come from two sources: decomposition of limestone – a chemical change that emits CO2– and the burning of fossil fuels to heat cement kilns.
However, Novacem is developing a cement binder that uses a different chemistry and a new lower-temperature manufacturing process, reducing CO2 emissions considerably.
During use as a binder or concrete building product, Novacem’s cement hardens by absorbing significant amounts of CO2 and therefore locks atmospheric CO2 into construction materials. This means that for every tonne of Portland cement replaced by Novacem cement, around one tonne of CO2 is captured and stored indefinitely.
Novacem’s technology is based on the research of Dr Nikolaos Vlasopoulos, chief scientist, and Dr Chris Cheeseman, senior scientific adviser, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College, London.
Novacem’s chairman is entrepreneur, Stuart Evans, who has more than 25 years’ experience developing technology start-ups. He was formerly chief executive officer and co-founder of Plastic Logic.
Commenting on the funding deal, Evans said: ‘Our new shareholders will help us position the company as a dominant provider of carbon-negative cement to the construction industry.
‘We are assembling a world-class team and these funds will help us grow the team, complete an initial pilot plant before the end of 2009 and accelerate development and commercialisation.’
Dr Andrew Mackintosh, chief executive of the Royal Society Enterprise Fund, said: ‘Novacem is exactly the type of company the Enterprise Fund was created to support. It is based on outstanding science, has enormous potential commercial opportunities but is nevertheless high-risk.
‘If we are serious about using the challenge of climate change to create new businesses in the UK then we have to invest in and encourage companies and give them a realistic chance to deliver.’
To further develop and scale-up its cement-production process, the London-based company is seeking exceptional scientists with a PhD (or equivalent) in an area with a strong chemical and process system engineering component and a good first degree (or equivalent) in chemical engineering.