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PyroGenesis says green cement additive tests beat expectations

Also announces update on design of Fumed Silica Reactor pilot plant

Tests of PozPyro indicate the quartz-based material beats traditional cement by almost nine per cent in seven-day tests. (Courtesy Progressive Planet Solutions Inc.)

PyroGenesis Canada Inc. (PYR-T) says its cement additive made via a plasma-based process beat expectations for a strength test by 45 per cent, demonstrating the potential of the sustainable alternative to fly ash and cement.

The tests were conducted by Kamloops, B.C.-based green cement company Progressive Planet Solutions Inc. (PLAN-X), which performed the seven-day compressive strength tests on PyroGenesis’ PozPyro material. It achieved a 45 per cent gain against the minimum target set by Montreal-based PyroGenesis.

Made by subjecting quartz silica to PyroGenesis’ plasma torch generator, cement mortar cubes of PozPyro exceeded the performance of traditional cement by almost nine per cent in a seven-day test, according to the company. The production process did not create any carbon dioxide.

“These results are impressive, and underscore yet again the transformative nature of plasma in producing materials, in both an economically and environmentally beneficial manner, key to heavy industry,” Peter Pascali, president and CEO of PyroGenesis, said in a release. 

PozPyro could eventually be used to partially substitute Portland cement and further reduce the carbon emissions from the cement and concrete industry, PyroGenesis added.

Testing the strength of PozPyro

Using a protocol from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), Progressive Planet set up four batches of PozPyro cement mortar cubes under seven-day tests for compressive strength. The resulting average strength for the four test batches was 108.75 per cent.

“Mortar cubes need to possess 75 per cent of the strength of the control cube at seven days to pass this ASTM test, so we are delighted that the average strength was 108.75 per cent,” Steve Harpur, CEO of Progressive Planet, said in a separate release.

The first test batch showed such promising results, Harpur said his company ran three more tests to confirm the data.

PyroGenesis hopes PozPyro will become a replacement for fly ash, a carbon-intensive byproduct of the coal industry. It also notes with Canada closing coal-fired generation plants which produce the ash, there will be high demand for an alternative cement additive.

Another expectation for PozPyro is to replace Portland cement, but without emitting carbon dioxide during production. Greenhouse gas emissions from the cement and concrete industries are responsible for approximately nine per cent of carbon dioxide emissions from humans.

Following the seven-day tests, Progressive Plant is continuing to check the performance of PozPyro by subjecting the mortar cubes to 28-day strength tests. Results will be made available after April 29, according to Progressive Planet.

“The cement industry is a major target for us, and we have high expectations for the PozPyro green cement additive material we have developed with Progressive Planet,” Pascali said.

Optimizing its Fumed Silica Reactor

PyroGenesis, which uses plasma for a variety of sustainability applications, also gave an update on its Fumed Silica Reactor (FSR) technology.

Made in partnership with HPQ Silica Polvere Inc., FSR turns quartz into a thickening agent called fumed silica. An additional benefit is slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 60 per cent compared to traditional methods. The design of FSR was reworked and simplified to speed commercial scale-up, PyroGenesis said in a release.

For the rest of the year, PyroGenesis will focus on assembling and commissioning its FSR pilot plant. Operations are expected to start in Q3, with plans to grow production to make enough fumed silica to send test samples to clients.

The food and pharmaceutical industries have taken a particular interest, PyroGenesis disclosed, particularly for beauty and personal care products.

At full capacity, the FSR pilot plant could produce 161 kilograms of fumed silica per day, PyroGenesis says.

As a sign of the collaboration between PyroGenesis and HPQ Silicon Inc., the parent company of HPQ Silica Polvere, PyroGenesis made a block sale of almost 3.8 million shares in HPQ Silicon to Pascali for over $661,000.

“This sale will bring PyroGenesis an influx of cash on favourable terms,” Andre Mainella, chief financial officer of PyroGenesis, said in a release. “It also underscores the continued support of Mr. Pascali of PyroGenesis and HPQ.”

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