Materrup, clean clay-based cement

By changing the recipe for this essential material, one of the most consumed in the world, the French startup can partially decarbonize an industry that accounts for 7% of CO emissions.two In all world.

Materrup, clean clay-based cement

The invention will soon celebrate its bicentennial. In 1824, the British Joseph Aspdin registered a patent for the so-called “Portland” cement. On paper, the inventor vaguely lays out the principles of this material: a mixture of clay powder and limestone agglomerated by water and heat. Today, the recipe has changed little, the ingredients are almost the same. And the environmental impact of Portland cement, which serves as a binder during the manufacture of essential concrete, is of concern. It’s time to change the recipe.

Limestone is the main culprit. Baked at 1,400°C, it produces the famous “clinker”, one of the main components of cement. However, the amount of energy spent to reach this temperature, most often of fossil origin, not to mention the limestone structure that contains the carbon released during combustion, is responsible for a massive release of COtwo🇧🇷 This industry is responsible for 7 to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

This assessment Mathieu Neuville knows well. A doctor in materials chemistry, he has worked at Total and Lafarge. 🇧🇷 Faced with the climate emergency, he saw that things weren’t moving fast enough and wanted to look for solutions to have a massive and fast impact. 🇧🇷 says Julie Neuville, marketing and CSR manager at Materrup. With his brother Charles, Mathieu Neuville founded Materrup in 2018. Shortly afterwards, they were joined by Julie Neuville, Charles’ wife, and Manuel Mercé, also a former member of Total’s R&D section.

Saint-Marie-de-Gosse site with Matterup grass tiles. photo credit Matterup

An abundant raw material

Very quickly, the search for the start-up based in Nova Aquitânia focused on clay. 🇧🇷 In conventional cement, it represents about 5% of the compositionexplains Julie Neuville. We have developed a recipe that contains up to 70% raw clay. 🇧🇷 First advantage, clay is extremely abundant on earth. The Bureau of Geological and Mining Research estimates its exploitable amount at no less than two million billion tons. Above all, the startup can use any type of clay to formulate its cement. There is therefore no need to import it from the other side of the world.

To introduce such a large amount of clay into the recipe, Materrup has developed an activator and a secondary precursor of mineral origin, whose secrets are jealously guarded. Both the formulation and the manufacturing process of this cement are protected by no less than 35 international patents. 🇧🇷 I won’t hide from you that when we started people thought we were crazy “Smile Julie Neuville again.

And yet, last June, the company took a decisive step. It received marketing authorization from the Construction Scientific and Technical Center for its type 42.5 clay-based cement, which can cover 80% of concrete uses. 🇧🇷 After numerous resistance tests, this authorization allows us to guarantee our partners a level of quality and performance identical to conventional cements.” rejoices Julie Neuville. Especially since it surpasses them all for its environmental qualities.

Matterup factory in Saint-Géours-de-Maremne in the Landes. photo credit Matterup

A virtuous system rewarded by the European Union

Materrup raised €3 million in 2020 from IRDI Capital Investissement, Aquiti Gestion, UI Investissement and Argiduna Capital to build a pilot plant in Saint-Géours-de-Maremne (Landes). This investment of 8 million euros, 80% made with own funds, allowed the start-up of this unit with an annual production capacity of 50,000 tons of cement and the approval of the virtuous start-up model. 🇧🇷

For the raw material, already, 🇧🇷 we we signed an agreement with the tile manufacturer Edilians, whose quarry is located a few kilometers from our factory. We recover the clay that is not used for the manufacture of tiles 🇧🇷 indicates Julie Neuville. To produce its cement, Materrup intends to be part of the circular economy and use only recycled clay or scrap so as not to have to extract it directly.

So, the cement manufacturing process inside the factory uses 50% less energy than the conventional one, mainly thanks to the absence of clay burning. And again, it’s just electricity, 25% of consumption is provided by solar panels on the roof of the factory. No fossil fuels in the process. In total, Materrup cement emits 50% COtwo smaller than its conventional equivalent, with equal performance. This achievement allowed the company to be among the 75 winners selected by the European Union’s European Innovation Council, guaranteeing a minimum participation of 500 thousand euros and a subsidy of up to 2.5 million euros.

The raw clay used by the company Matterup. photo credit Matterup

Easy to use

A recognition that allows you to see far. The company already has the goal of building around ten factories in five years. 🇧🇷 Today in France there are some large cement factories that supply their products to the many concrete manufacturers in the territory.explains Julie Neuville. We want to follow the opposite model, installing small production units all over the country, which use local clay and which can also be connected to existing cement factories. 🇧🇷

For users, Materrup cement does not require interruption of practices. Concrete mixers can use the same molds, mixers or trucks as conventional cement. Drying time also hardly varies. The company already has some clients such as Duhalde BTP or the Demathieu Bard group, and its cement is used in the concrete of several pilot projects, such as the construction of a double permeable car park in Sainte-Marie-de-Gosse ( 40 ) or the development of a car park for a social housing complex in Ambarès-et-Lagrave (Gironde). The environmental characteristics of this concrete already allow its users to meet the new standards of the RE2020 environmental regulation that recently governs all new constructions.

🇧🇷 At present, our price is slightly higher than conventional cement, recognize Julie Neuville🇧🇷 It is at the level of a special cement, a few percent more expensive. But in less than three years, with the increase in our capabilities, we will be competitive. 🇧🇷 Last but not least, the aesthetic appearance of this cement, which gives the concrete an ocher color instead of the usual mouse grey. A way to combine business with pleasure.

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