The City-Cement Problem
When many people think of pollution, their first thought isn’t typically about rainfall or cement. However, according to Greg Johnson, it should be. Portland cement is typically made of limestone and is the most common type of cement in use from concrete to mortar. What many don’t know is the impact this material has on the environment as a whole, “Portland cement as an industry is responsible for something like 8% of all CO2 emissions globally. It's extremely polluted. But, it's the material that goes into all the concrete you see throughout our cities,” he says.
With sustainability and climate change becoming more and more prevalent topics of discussion on a global scale, companies like AquiPor are taking on the challenge by developing a sustainable alternative to traditional Portland cement by leveraging the power of technology to create permeable concrete that is capable of filtering dirt and debris on the surface, combating runoff pollution on the spot and helping to mitigate urban flooding.
A Sustainable Stormwater Solution
Most people know that an excess of stormwater can quickly result in flooding; however, it also contributes to pollution. AquiPor’s tech-based solution aims to address both, “It's a permeable surface technology that's like concrete, but it's extremely permeable and it has nano-scale porosity throughout the material.” John says, “It actually filters out dirt, debris, pollen, dust, all the sedimentary pollution commonly found in stormwater that is known to get into our storm drains and then eventually ends up discharged into our lakes, rivers, and streams.”
In addition to this, AquiPor’s innovative technology isn’t only a sustainable solution for water pollution issues and flooding, it also can streamline development, as Johnson explains, “We have this material technology and corresponding engineered designs that go around the material to help cities and private property owners manage large volumes of stormwater right where it falls.” Washington state, where the startup is located, is no stranger to stormwater restrictions during construction and development. However, in such a fast-growing area, being able to manage stormwater as it falls, rather than incorporating stormwater facilities during development, would be a major upgrade.
‘Next Generation Stormwater Solutions’
The issues surrounding stormwater filtration aren’t new; therefore, AquiPor’s permeable pavement is a long-awaited alternative to traditional concrete. But, it isn’t the first. “We started researching it and we saw that there were permeable pavements in the world. That was a technology that had been developed. But the more we looked into it, those were very flawed. I don't want to denigrate the technology because they're still out there, but there were some real material limitations with those,” Johnson explains. “It really had to do with the fact that they clogged up very quickly. And so my co-founder and I thought, ‘There's got to be a better way to do this. Could we come up with a material technology that actually filtered out this dirt and debris and didn't clog up over time?’”
The next task for AquiPor, after manufacturing, is to bring the product to market, and the startup has a unique idea to gain traction, “We're going to construct a neighborhood-scale mock-up project.” Johnson says, “Basically, we're going to construct a neighborhood and show what it will be as a demonstration for cities to say, "This is how we can actually go in and retrofit our sidewalks and portions of the street to turn them into stormwater infiltration corridors, literally solve the stormwater issue right in the neighborhood."”