BERNE, SWITZERLAND—Neustark is the first company in the world to have developed and rolled out a solution that mineralizes CO₂ in demolition concrete. Thanks to this groundbreaking technology, the CO₂ is permanently stored and thus removed from the atmosphere.
The Swiss climate-tech company has now joined forces with Berlin-based construction and recycling company Heim to open the first commercial site for permanent CO₂ storage in Germany—and thus in the EU. Located in Berlin, the site has the capacity to permanently store over 1,000 tons of CO₂ per year. The CO₂ is captured at biogas plants. And since the CO₂ stored is biogenic, the neustark process removes emissions from the atmosphere, thus creating crucial negative emissions.
Neustark and its partners now have twelve storage sites in operation in Switzerland and Germany, all of which were launched in the last 10 months. They have a cumulative annual capacity of around 5,000 tons of CO₂.
“Carbon removal is—next to massive emission reductions—indispensable to reach net-zero targets, as the IPCC states. And that’s exactly what we do at Neustark, we literally remove CO₂ from the air by storing it in demolition concrete. Now also in Germany, which is a huge step for neustark, but more importantly for the whole CO₂ removal industry,” says Johannes Tiefenthaler, founder and Co-CEO of neustark.
How neustark Removes CO₂ Permanently
With over one billion tons per year, demolition concrete is the world’s largest waste stream. Neustark has developed a technology and a value chain that transforms this waste stream into a “sink” for CO₂ emissions.
How does it work? By capturing CO₂ from biogas plants and transporting it to nearby storage sites, where the CO₂ is injected into the granules of demolition concrete during its usual recycling process. Neustark’s technology triggers a mineralization process that converts the CO₂ into limestone, binding it to the pores and surface of the granules. The CO₂ is permanently stored in the demolition concrete and thus removed from the atmosphere.
The carbonated demolition concrete granulate can subsequently be used by recyclers for road construction or for the production of recycled concrete.
Numerous Companies Join Effort
The CO₂ that neustark stores in the Berlin site mainly stems from partner MVV’s biowaste fermentation plant in Dresden. Since 2021, the CO₂ produced during the extraction of biomethane has been captured and liquefied there. Parts of the biogenic CO₂ will continue to be used in internal processes. The Munich-based biomethane trading company Landwärme manages the excess volume of around 1,000 tons of CO₂ per year. Neustark, in turn, transports the CO₂ to the storage site at Heim and removes it there.
A final but important step of the value chain: neustark provides carbon removal in the form of climate certificates to companies with ambitious climate targets. Complementing their own reduction measures, companies purchase CDR certificates to remove their hard-to-abate emissions, which helps them achieve their net-zero targets. Neustark’s carbon removal clients include Microsoft and UBS.
Scaling up the Carbon Removal Impact
On its ambitious path to remove one million tons of CO₂ in 2030 and every year beyond that, neustark is currently rapidly scaling up in Europe. In addition to the 12 sites commissioned to date, fifteen further projects are currently under construction in Germany, Switzerland, France, and Austria.
Neustark recently signed a landmark agreement with building solutions giant Holcim. Holcim has committed to rolling out neustark’s CO₂ storage technology at its recycling sites worldwide. Together, neustark and Holcim will be storing a significant part of neustark’s goal—removing 1 million tons of CO₂ in 2030—at their sites in the next years, generating a huge carbon removal impact.
“To achieve the greatest possible CO₂ removal impact, neustark builds on partnerships with an increasing number of local and global building materials recyclers. The first storage site in Germany at Heim and the deal with Holcim are two major milestones in our still young company history,” says Valentin Gutknecht, founder and co-CEO of neustark.
Over the next few years, neustark aims to launch thousands of CO₂ storage sites across the world, working hand-in-hand with a wide range of recycling partners.