By identifying and investing in the most promising technologies developed by start-ups, Total Energy Ventures contributes to the group's culture of innovation. As one of the 20 or so partner companies, Solidia Technologies has developed a new system for curing concrete with carbon dioxide. Great prospects and a small revolution in a very well-established sector that hasn't changed much in close to 200- years …
Injecting CO2 into cement: Total Energy Ventures has invested in this highly promising technology for recycling carbon offered by the American start-up Solidia Technologies.
Total Energy Ventures is a group entity that invests in the capitalization of start-ups innovating in such fields as renewable energies, oil and gas activities, energy efficiency, energy storage, waste recycling, greenhouse gas reduction, digital energy and sustainable mobility.
"Our role is to detect innovation in start-ups," explained Thibaud de Préval, in charge of investments at TEV. "By fostering relationships between the Group's various entities and this very dynamic ecosystem, we are an innovation driver for Total. This enables us to contribute to the conversations around topics of the future and to support the most promising initiatives".
TEV generally takes a minority stake in these companies. "We act as a catalyst of the culture of innovation and risk" said Thibaud de Préval, "and by taking a minority stake in companies with very different profiles, we manage the risk that is inherent in this type of activity. The investments may be modest, but in return there is much to learn and strong development potential in everything that concerns the energy of the future!"
It is therefore a win-win process. While Total seeks to glean more knowledge, monitor new ideas and co-build solutions for difficult problems, the partner start-ups benefit from a world-class network of expertise and support. In other words, they gain access to what it takes to accelerate their development and secure their business model, particularly in terms of full-scale experimentation and commercialization.
Among the subjects that the Group has been following closely is that of the capture, storage and use of CO2. After some research, TEV identified the American company Solidia Technologies, which has developed a technology that makes it easy and profitable to use CO2 to create superior building materials. Solidia's technology starts with a sustainable cement, cures concrete with CO2 instead of water, enabling the cement and concrete industry to reduce its carbon footprint by as much as 70 percent and to recycle over 60 percent of the water used in production. Using the same raw materials and existing equipment as traditional concrete, the resulting products are higher performing, cost less to produce and cure to full strength in less than 24 hours, representing a whole new outlet for the use of carbon.
"What triggered our interest, is that even in such an old and well-established market as cement, an innovation modifying the product's chemical composition could offer a strong development potential, both in economic and environmental terms, by reducing the industry's carbon footprint" added Thibaud de Préval.
The start-up's many strengths include the fact that its technology is compatible with existing industrial plants. It is therefore not necessary to modify cement production lines, and its economic model is profitable from day one by compensating all the players in the sector. If one ton of carbon were to cost more tomorrow, which is what many people today are calling for and which could very well happen in the carbon economy, this would be an additional factor in securing the future for Solidia Technologies.
For Thibaud de Préval, this investment is fully in line with the Better Energy policy: "Better Energy also means reducing the carbon and environmental footprint of our activities. The whole issue of capture, storing and use of CO2 is a major challenge for the group. With Solidia Technologies, it is the use element that is crucial. The deployment of this technology may double the demand for CO2, creating value and offering a competitive edge for the whole sector upstream of the chain of capture."
The group provides Solidia Technologies with analysis, expertise and global presence, and meanwhile it is already looking at which of its installations could supply CO2. The innovative spirit of start-ups is contagous!