Each year, the construction sector emits over 123 million tons of CO2, according to the Ministry of Ecological Transition. A fact that places it among the most polluting activities, with transport for example. To produce the cement, which is involved in the composition of the concrete, for example, it must be heated to 1,400 ° C for thirteen hours, an energy-intensive process. Mathieu Neuville, one of the founders of the Landes Matter’up start-up, was interested in raw clay, available in abundance, to develop an alternative product.
Former R&D research engineer at Laffarge and later Total, Mathieu Neuville worked for four years with associations, artisans and design firms. “We combine this clay with an activator and a precursor, this mixture allows a cold reaction, without cooking, and to bring the desired mechanical properties”, he explains, without revealing any manufacturing secrets of the formula, protected by 35 international patents. This clay-based cement, extracted from local quarries or recovered from excavation sites, is then recovered without firing and thus constitutes a low-carbon solution.
A pilot production site launched in February 2022
Created at the end of 2018 and quickly supported by important partners such as the Region, Department or Ministry of Ecological Transition, it raised funds for over one million euros in 2020. From 2021 it started its first pilot plant, in Saint-Geours-de-Maremne , in the Landes. The company, which employs 17 people, started producing cement and raw clay-based concrete in February 2022., megablocks to make retaining walls for embankments, dams, etc., explains Julie Neuville, partner and communications and marketing manager by Materr ‘on. We also offer benches to put in public spaces. “
The goal is to demonstrate that these products can be used immediately, expressing a desire to work with cement and cement makers to help those who wish to make a transition. A marketplace has also been created for direct sales, to artisans but also to individuals. “We want to democratize low-carbon materials and facilitate their commercialization,” explains Mathieu Neuville.
New factories in progress
The mechanical and energy performance of this clay-based concrete is the same as that of conventional concrete and its price is currently “equivalent to mass-colored premium concrete,” emphasizes Julie Neuville. The standardization of production will automatically lead to a reduction in costs which will be partly transferred to the final price. “There was a real need to provide a certified solution [par le centre scientifique et technique du bâtiment CSTB] and economic, believes Mathieu Neuville. And builders and architects wanted to build differently. “
Materr’up’s development plan, which has a dozen ongoing hires, is to build small factories near big cities to supply them with “green” cement, in particular to limit transport-related carbon emissions. Projects are planned in the regions of Paris, Toulouse and Bordeaux, some of which could come out of the ground as early as 2023. The icing on the cake: concrete made with local clay will take on different colors depending on the nature of the soil, rather pink in Toulouse and yellow in Bordeaux. This should bring some color, alongside the uniform gray of traditional concrete.