Save Pave the World

Science  10 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6095, pp. 676-678
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6095.676

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Researchers who think about how best to stave off the worst impacts of climate change often have their favorite way of disposing of one prominent industrial waste product: carbon dioxide. Some urge planting trees to soak up the greenhouse gas; others say capture it and pump it underground. For a California entrepreneur and biomineralization expert, the solution is pavement, and lots of it. Drawing on the chemistry that corals use to build their rock-hard shells, he hopes to combine simple seawater with CO2 to manufacture cement and concrete that would devour vast amounts of the greenhouse gas. It's an audacious idea he's already tried to commercialize once—with mixed results and plenty of criticism. And his peers are divided on the prospects for seawater cement.