David Stone, a former Ph.D student at the University of Arizona (UA) Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science has developed an alternative to Portland cement known as Ferrock™. Stone won an innovation competition for his work on the cement-like material while he was a student and the UA invention was issued a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2013. On 12 November 2014, Stone licensed the technology from the UA in collaboration with Tech Launch Arizona (TLA). In order to commercialise the invention, Stone is creating a startup company named Iron Shell.
“This all started from an accidental discovery in a lab, which is actually the way it usually goes,” explained Stone. “That was back in 2002, and I included as much as I knew in my doctoral dissertation. But the work goes on.”
According to the UA press release, Ferrock™ ‘uses the waste steel dust from industrial processes to create a cement-like material that is sustainable, strong and environmentally superior to conventional cement. […] Ferrock™ hardens only when exposed to high concentrations of carbon dioxide, which is absorbed and trapped, making it a carbon negative material. This greenhouse gas diffuses into the wet mixture and reacts with the iron, creating iron carbonate and becoming part of the material’s mineral matrix’.
The material reportedly offers high compressive and flexural strengths, as well as an improved resistance to cracking. As hardening is caused by the rusting of iron dust, the material is suitable for use in salt water and other corrosive environments.
“The technology stands to impact the world in a variety of ways,” said Doug Hockstad, TLA’s Director of Tech Transfer. “Including both reduction of carbon dioxide production and sequestration of other carbon dioxide production, as well as recycling of waste products such as steel waste and in some cases, recycled glass. For all that, this represents an amazing engineering achievement that has the potential to create a great, positive impact on the environment.”
Commenting on TLA’s support for the project, Stone said: “Scientist inventors are not exactly known for their business skills, but TLA believed in me from the beginning and felt that I should play a central role in the commercialisation effort. They then demonstrated this belief by giving my own startup the exclusive license to the patent and the right to sublicense. The terms were very generous and demonstrated that they think this commercialisation effort will succeed. Beyond that, they have continuously aided my efforts to find business advisors, get the expertise I need and build a team.”
Adapted from press release by Louise Fordham
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/the-americas/20112014/arizona-iron-shell-to-commercialise-ferrock-890/