Outstanding Creativity at Lakehead University Yields Stronger Concrete

Lakehead UniversityTHUNDER BAY – A green cement additive that shows potential to significantly strengthen concrete and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been licensed to GreenCentre Canada by Lakehead University. 

“Technology commercialization involves four important steps: invention disclosure, patenting, licensing and finally introduction of new products to the market.  This license to GreenCentre Canada is an important measure of the potential commercial value arising from Lakehead-based research, moving us one step closer to direct benefits to society and economic returns to the region.  It showcases once again that Lakehead is a successful contributor to Canada’s overall innovation agenda,” says Barb Eccles, Manager, Technology Transfer in Lakehead’s Innovation Management Office (IMO). 

The technology, developed by Dr. Lionel Catalan (Chemical Engineering) and Dr. Stephen Kinrade (Chemistry), can potentially increase concrete strength by up to 40 percent and reduce the amount of Portland cement needed to make concrete. “This technology is exciting because it has the potential to create a better product for industry while also benefiting the environment,” says Dr. Rui Resendes, Executive Director of GreenCentre Canada. “We are equally excited by the partnership we have formed with Lakehead, where we are fostering continuing development of this discovery within the University’s Material Characterization Services labs. This is a living example of the ‘innovation ecosystem’ that is at the core of GreenCentre’s approach,” he adds. 

The production of Portland cement involves heating calcium carbonate and clay at extremely high temperatures.  This process is responsible for an estimated seven percent of all greenhouse gases produced annually. Globally, approximately 1.35 billion tons of Portland cement are produced each year, releasing an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide into the air. 

Dr. Rui Wang, Vice-President (Research, Economic Development and Innovation) of Lakehead University, says “The outstanding efforts and creativity of Drs. Catalan and Kinrade, time and again, show the capacity and commitment of Lakehead University to knowledge transformation and economic development.”  He adds that not only has GreenCentre in-licensed this exciting technology, but it has also invested significant financial resources in Lakehead to further develop, test, and scale-up the green cement formulations – with the development of specific applications to follow. Dr. Wang refers to this occasion as a true testament to the new technology transfer system developed in Canada. 

GreenCentre Canada provides Canadian technology transfer offices, such as Lakehead’s IMO, with access to expertise and resources that would not otherwise be available, enabling expert handling and support of green chemistry inventions to facilitate their move to the market place. Lakehead’s IMO is the access point for Lakehead inventors to GreenCentre Canada.

As Lakehead University President Dr. Brian Stevenson notes, “By solidifying Lakehead’s partnership with GreenCentre Canada, which is one of Canada’s new Centres of Excellence in Commercialization of Research, we are moving forward with a major component of the University’s Strategic Plan, which is to foster continued research excellence, productivity, and growth.”

Drs. Catalan and Kinrade are currently working on a new generation of concrete additives that will further decrease the requirement for Portland cement and are targeted to specific applications such as precast products.