Clean-tech firm set to announce contracts

4/11/2013

CarbonCure Technologies is poised to announce five new contracts, says a Boston tech scouting firm.

The Halifax outfit is working to commercialize its technology that chemically converts waste carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate in concrete during manufacturing, making it greener and stronger.

“They have five licensees lined up in the U.S. and they’re going to announce those names in a few weeks,” Aditya Ranade, a senior analyst at Lux Research, said Wednesday.

“Their first royalty revenues should start coming out soon, so I think 2013 will be a good year for them.”

Robert Niven, CarbonCure’s founder and chief executive officer, was in Belgium at a technical conference Wednesday and couldn’t be reached for comment.

CarbonCure has about 10 licensees “in the pipeline,” said Jennifer Wagner, the 14-person company’s vice-president of marketing.

Wagner confirmed deals with some of them are slated to be announced in the coming weeks.

“Nothing is for sure yet, so I don’t want to say names because some of them are competitors.”

Ranade upgraded CarbonCure from a “wait-and-see” to “positive” rating in Lux’s recent report on green building materials, circulated globally amongst investment groups.

“It is purely (based) on whether our corporate clients should engage with them or just wait on the sidelines.

“So we think that they’re at a position where large corporations can start engaging with them and be their customers if it makes sense.”

CarbonCure is trying to raise $1 million to $3 million before this fall. No investors have spoken for any portion of that yet.

“That (money) will be really dedicated to opening up the ready-mix and precast sectors for us,” Wagner said.

The improved rating from Lux could help CarbonCure find investors, she said.

“If nothing else, it will raise the profile of the company, and it may introduce us to some investors who we wouldn’t have identified in the absence of the rating. So I think it definitely can’t hurt and the timing couldn’t be better.”

Niven is planning to hit the road within the next few weeks, meeting with developers, principles of architecture firms and other folks with direct experience with concrete across the United States.

“If any relevant investors think they may be a good fit, we’d love for them to get in touch with us,” Wagner said.

There has been a lot of interest in low-carbon concrete sector, Ranade said.

“What they have to demonstrate is that there is market traction.

“Atlas Block, one of their partners, just got an approval for their product for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Canada. So things like that they should really publicize and market to let the corporations know that this is a real market.”

CarbonCure announced earlier this year that it had signed a licensing agreement with Atlas Block, the leading concrete supplier to the Greater Toronto Area.

The Shaw Group in Lantz and Basalite Concrete Products of San Francisco are employing CarbonCure’s technology in demonstration plants.

Shaw Group and Air Liquide Canada were involved in developing the curing process, which uses waste carbon dioxide to reduce steam-curing energy, cement content and greenhouse gas emissions while producing stronger concrete.

Ranade expects CarbonCure to pull in just under $1 million this year in Canadian revenues.

“There will be a small trickle of licensing revenues from the U.S. But I think the bigger gain is by selling equipment and then selling support services to help with the production.”

Globally, the concrete market is worth tens of billions of dollars annually, he said.

“This is going to be a small slice of it. We think it’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars still. Still, very big for a startup.”

CarbonCure, which is moving from beyond concrete blocks to pavers and ready-mix, could see its revenues increase dramatically, Ranade said.

“In another five years, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are able to get an annual revenue of about $10 million or so.”

It is hard to predict if that is accurate, Wagner said.

“Our goal, ultimately, is to open up the ready-mix sector. That’s sort of the holy grail for us. So if we can accelerate our tech development for the ready-mix application and get that into market, then I think the revenue projections will be high. But we’ll have to wait and see how the tech development goes.

“We don’t want to speak too soon on that.”

(The Chronicle Herald)