Amsterdam studio Woonpioniers has hidden a prefabricated wooden cabin with large windows and tall, curving interiors within a forest glade in the Netherlands.

The modular dwelling, named Indigo, was designed for a couple who are leasing the rural site in Barchem and wanted a low-impact home that caters to a sustainable lifestyle.

It is the fourth cabin of this kind to have been built by Woonpioniers after the studio developed them to offer a highly customisable and affordable housing model that can be replicated anywhere.

The dwellings, all named Indigo, are built with a prefabricated laminated-timber structure to minimise waste, transportation, construction time and, in turn, environmental impact.

“At Woonpioniers we develop architectural concepts with which we burden the environment as little as possible,” the studio told Dezeen.

“We also think it is important to develop individual housing concepts that are rationally structured and therefore remain affordable but do not necessarily look exactly the same every time,” it continued.

“With Indigo, Woonpioniers aims to make personal architecture and a healthy way of building accessible to a wide audience.”

The Indigo cabins are designed to be highly adjustable, meaning their size is tailored to the specific needs and chosen site of the client.

However, each one utilises the same prefabricated elements that are combined to form spacious interiors, characterised by tall ceilings that curve down to meet the walls.

This distinctive curved interior is engineered to strengthen the corners of the cabin and negate the need for structural supports that would truncate the space – leaving an open, flexible interior.

“If you simply build two walls with a hood on top, the weight of the roof will push the walls out,” the studio explained.

“If you round the corners of the house, there is the possibility of strengthening them in such a way that all forces are properly absorbed without the space losing its unity.”

This particular Indigo cabin is sized to provide the client with ample space for a large, open living area and a two-storey “sleeping house” at the rear.

These two contrasting zones are divided by a lofty hallway, designed for the clients to host events while also helping to minimise the cabin’s heating requirements.

Externally, the cabin is finished with a prefabricated standing seam roof and stained larch wood cladding, while the interior walls are finished with spruce, complemented by a polished cement floor.

Various other material finishes are available for the cabins, but wood was chosen as the primary material for this home to create the feeling that it is “at one with the environment”.

This connection to the outside is furthered through the placement of large windows and areas of glazing, such as at the gable end of the living room.

Other materials used in the construction include cellulose insulation, wedged between the prefabricated beams, and the use of screws to fasten the modular elements to ensure their recyclability.



Loose prefabricated concrete blocks topped by a cross-laminated timber slab form the cabin’s foundation so that it can be easily removed at the end of the home’s useful life.

Each Indigo cabin is designed to be carbon-neutral in operation, reliant on electricity from renewable sources. This home uses solar panels on the roof of a nearby building, as the site itself is too shaded to generate enough electricity.

It also relies on an air-to-water heat pump for underfloor heating and utilises the ground’s thermal mass to naturally regulate internal temperatures.

Muji has also developed a prefabricated wooden home called Yō no Ie, or Plain House, which is designed to encourage indoor-outdoor living. Similarly to Indigo, the home is built without columns or fixed divisions to ensure flexibility and allow owners to reconfigure its layout to meet changing needs.

More recently, Studio Puisto launched a range of adaptable, prefabricated cabins called Space of Mind that can be built anywhere and used as anything from a garden office to a remote off-grid retreat.

Photography is by Henny van Belkom.


Source: Dezeen

Two years ago, CalMatters housing writer Matt Levin described a factory in Vallejo that was building housing modules that could quickly — and relatively inexpensively — be assembled into multi-story apartment houses.

Levin described the factory as more resembling an automobile assembly line than a construction site. “They build one floor approximately every two and a half hours,” Larry Pace, co-founder of Factory OS, told Levin. “It’s fast.”

Modular construction offers a potential solution to one of the most vexing aspects of California’s housing crisis — the extremely high costs of building apartments meant to house low- and moderate-income families.

Statewide, those costs average about $500,000 a unit, encompassing land costs, governmental red tape, ever-rising prices for materials and, finally, wages for unionized workers who build, plumb and electrify the apartments.

“Further inside the massive Vallejo plant, there’s a station for cabinets, a station for roofing and a station for plumbing and electrical wiring,” Levin wrote. “Station 33 looks like a furniture showroom not quite ready for the floor — washer, dryer and microwave included.

“From there the apartment pieces are wrapped and trucked to the construction site, where they’re assembled in a matter of days, not months.”

Pace said that his modules can be assembled into three- to five-story apartment buildings 40% more quickly and 20% less expensively than traditional construction, which means more bang for the buck.

Today, a Factory OS apartment house for 145 hitherto homeless residents is being assembled in downtown San Francisco in what appears to be proof of what Pace told Levin.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight described the project in a recent article, saying, “The project at 833 Bryant St. is being built faster and cheaper than the typical affordable housing development in San Francisco, the ones that notoriously drag on for six years or more and cost an average of $700,000 per unit. This project will take just three years and clock in at $383,000 per unit.”

In other words, by using modular construction San Francisco could supply twice as many units for the same money. So what’s not to like? Knight tells us what.

“At issue,” she writes, “is how the project was built so quickly: with modular units made in a Vallejo factory. Each unit was trucked across the Bay Bridge, strung from a crane and locked in place like a giant Lego creation. San Francisco unions don’t like the method because it leaves them out, but considering the city’s extreme homelessness crisis, City Hall can’t afford to toss the idea.”

Factory OS uses unionized workers, but through an agreement with the carpenters’ union, workers perform a variety of tasks on the housing assembly line, rather than having the work divvied up among specialists, and the company employs many former prison inmates.

Politically influential construction trades unions are pushing San Francisco’s city officials to make 833 Bryant St. a one-time event rather than the beginning of a trend.

Larry Mazzola Jr., president of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, is sending a letter to Mayor London Breed and city supervisors criticizing the project’s “mistakes and over-costs.”

“The quality is crap, to put it basically,” Mazzola told Knight “They don’t have plumbers doing the plumbing. They don’t have electricians doing electrical. They get them from San Quentin, and they’re not trained at all. We’re going to fight vigorously with the city not to do any more of these.”

Modular housing is not a panacea for California’s housing woes, but it deals with one major factor. The question is whether politicians will embrace it or strangle it.

Source: The OCR



Explosive “Blast Box” Contract Lays Foundations for UK Steel Construction System to Go Nuclear   –  US University Uses Steel Bricks™ Technology for Advanced Warhead Testing 


A pioneering UK-based steel construction system is on course to dominate the potentially lucrative global nuclear Small Modular Reactor (SMR) market following the successful delivery of a blast chamber contract with a leading US university.

The Steel Bricks™ modular construction system developed by Modular Walling Systems Ltd, based in Renfrewshire, Scotland, has been used to construct an Environmental Blast Chamber for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Known as a ‘blast box’, the revolutionary ultra-strong three-metre cubed chamber is now being used for explosives testing as part of a research programme on advanced warhead technologies for the US Department of Defense.

The University of Illinois blast box uses the patented Steel Bricks™ modular construction system which comprises two steel face plates internally connected to create a ‘sandwich’ panel. The steel structure is then manufactured off-site as a single piece, before being filled with 72 tons of self-consolidating concrete in a continuous pour once installed. According to Dr. Stewart Gallocher, founding director of Modular Walling Systems, it is this proprietary process which gives the blast box its unique strength – as well as vastly reducing on-site time and labour costs – making it ideal for SMR construction, a market estimated to be worth US $1.2 trillion globally.

He explains: “The Steel Bricks™ system, with trademark diaphragm holes running through the webs, has been assembled in such a way that the concrete is poured through holes in the roof, flowing down the walls and filling the base mat before coming back up the walls and lining the ceiling – all in one continuous pour. This is a ‘first of a kind’ concept in the fast-emerging world of steel composite construction and proves that the Steel Bricks™ system can provide not only the walls and suspended floors or roofs in steel composite but most importantly a base mat. This takes away the need for conventional foundations, eliminating the traditional Achilles Heel of this form of construction which are the weak points of the base mat to wall connection.”

“Many attempts have been made during the past 25 years to devise simple, safe and rapid fabrication methods to internally connect steel faceplates. But most have lacked commercial application due to being too expensive and labour intensive. We have now proved we can successfully deliver a solution which is technologically proficient whilst providing significant cost and time saving benefits.”

The Environmental Blast Chamber was fabricated in the UK by Caunton Engineering, one of the UK’s leading structural steelworks manufacturers, at the company’s manufacturing headquarters in Nottingham before being shipped to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Now installed, the blast box is expected to deliver some impressive results, as testified by Professor Nick Glumac who leads the explosive testing and weapons research faculty at the University. He says: “The test facility allows for large scale high explosive testing with advanced imaging, spectroscopic and flash x-ray diagnostics. The system can be operated as a fully enclosed or partially vented structure enabling a wide variety of tests of high explosives, propellant systems and pyrotechnics.

“The chamber has optical access on three sides for multiple views of testing, while internal walls are amenable to instrumentation and fragmentation shields, allowing the testing of heavily fragmenting warheads. The main advantage of the blast box is that it can be ‘dropped-in’ on site, arriving fully assembled and ready for the concrete pour. This means less site preparation, fewer personnel needed for installation and rapid times from delivery to first operation.”

Caunton Engineering and Modular Walling Systems are now in detailed discussions with potential customers about a broad range of applications for the Steel Bricks™ system – including the global nuclear industry. Dr Gallocher continues: “The success of the University of Illinois contract shows that the Steel Bricks™ system is perfectly suited for markets where potentially dangerous materials are being handled and where time on site needs to be minimised. We believe that this technology, combined with the significant cost and time reductions of off-site manufacture, will now provide a major stimulus for the global roll out of Small Modular Reactors.”


A specialist construction team is making the 11,000km journey home to the UK after successfully completing the groundworks for a new state-of-the-art polar research building at British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station, Antarctica.

Foundations for the new scientific support facility, the Discovery Building, were laid and perimeter wall erected this construction season. The new energy-efficient facility will support polar scientists who undertake vital research into climate change and biodiversity. The Discovery Building is part of a major programme commissioned by UKRI-NERC to modernise the UK’s Antarctic Infrastructure.

Delivering the new energy-efficient building is the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme (AIMP) partnership, which includes construction partner BAM and their team – design consultants Sweco, and Hugh Broughton Architects providing delivery design. Ramboll is acting as British Antarctic Survey’s Technical Advisors, with their team – architects NORR providing concept design and Turner & Townsend providing cost management. The partnership encompasses a range of suppliers and subcontractors providing exceptional knowledge, materials and equipment to execute remarkable results in extreme conditions.

The coronavirus pandemic presented major logistical challenges. Construction can only take place during the Antarctic summer months between December to May because of harsh winter conditions. As a result of logistical constraints from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 24-person construction team had just ten weeks to complete this season’s work. The team also spent two weeks in quarantine before departing the UK and starting their journey to Antarctica by ship in late November.

The construction team was able to lay 70 precast concrete foundations to support the building’s structural steel frame and install the 32 sections of perimeter wall. The team have placed approximately 3,500 tonnes of graded rock fill to create the formation level, ready for the ground floor slabs to be fitted next season.

The Discovery Building replaces six old buildings at the station and is expected to be completed in 2024. The new two-storey 4,500m² (gross internal area) facility has energy saving features, including thermally-efficient building envelope, heat recovery generators and thermal stores, and a ventilation system with air exchanges based on occupancy. The Discovery Building will use some renewable energy, including photovoltaic solar panels. To minimise snow accumulation around the entire perimeter of the building, it features a slight pitched roof and wind deflector, the largest of it’s kind in Antarctica.

The unique design of the building will cater for the wellbeing and collaboration aspects of living in Antarctica. Vibrant, open-plan offices have been designed to foster better collaboration bringing natural light in during the long, dark Antarctic winters.


Jon Ager, Director of the UK AIMP at BAS said: “This has been the most challenging year for the programme since its inception in 2017. We were forced to curtail this activity last season, to bring our team home safely as the world entered lockdown. It was therefore essential that we completed the groundworks this season so that when we return in December we have the best opportunity to complete a weathertight structure, and to prevent damage from the extreme Antarctic winter. Alongside our industry partners and wider supply chain, we can’t wait to return in a few months to start work on this vital polar building”.

Martin Bellamy, Managing Director, at BAM Nuttall said, “This is the end of a relatively short, but hugely successful season for the project and the team. Everyone in the partnership has worked brilliantly to deliver the work. The modernisation of the infrastructure in Antarctica is a true collaboration between science and industry. I’d like to thank everyone for the support and commitment during what has been a challenging time, globally.”

Bruce Wulff, Project Director at Ramboll said: “The Discovery Building is a one of a kind and pushes the boundaries of design in extreme Antarctic conditions. It also makes a significant contribution towards BAS’s objectives of reducing its carbon emissions and it’s great to see it starting to take shape.”

Stewart Craigie, Technical Director at Sweco said: “The close collaboration between owners, operators, constructors and designers has ensured the success of this project especially in this most challenging season with the reduced timeframe. It has been a privilege to play a small part in the team that have prepared the ground and set the foundations for the future seasons. We are definitely in a strong position to maintain our planned completion in 2024 and the team should be very proud of their achievements to date.”



Cooling the planet by filtering excess carbon dioxide out of the air on an industrial scale would require a new, massive global industry – what would it need to work?

The year is 2050. Walk out of the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas, and drive north across the sun-baked scrub where a few remaining oil pumpjacks nod lazily in the heat, and then you’ll see it: a glittering palace rising out of the pancake-flat ground. The land here is mirrored: the choppy silver-blue waves of an immense solar array stretch out in all directions. In the distance, they lap at a colossal grey wall five storeys high and almost a kilometre long. Behind the wall, you glimpse the snaking pipes and gantries of a chemical plant.

As you get closer you see the wall is moving, shimmering – it is entirely made up of huge fans whirring in steel boxes. You think to yourself that it looks like a gigantic air conditioning unit, blown up to incredible proportions. In a sense, that’s exactly what this is. You’re looking at a direct air capture (DAC) plant, one of tens of thousands like it across the globe. Together, they’re trying to cool the planet by sucking carbon dioxide out of the air. This Texan landscape was made famous for the billions of barrels of oil pulled out of its depths during the 20th Century. Now the legacy of those fossil fuels – the CO2 in our air – is being pumped back into the emptied reservoirs.

If the world is to meet Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to 1.5C by 2100, sights like this may be necessary by mid-century.

We have a climate change problem and it’s caused by an excess of CO2. With direct air capture, you can remove any emission, anywhere, from any moment in time – Steve Oldham

But step back for a moment to 2021, to Squamish, British Columbia where, against a bucolic skyline of snowy mountains, the finishing touches are being put to a barn-sized device covered in blue tarpaulin. When it becomes operational in September, Carbon Engineering’s prototype direct air capture plant will begin scrubbing a tonne of CO2 from the air every year. It is a small start, and a somewhat larger plant in Texas is in the works, but this is the typical scale of a DAC plant today.

“We have a climate change problem and it’s caused by an excess of CO2,” says Carbon Engineering chief executive Steve Oldham. “With DAC, you can remove any emission, anywhere, from any moment in time. It’s very powerful tool to have.”

Most carbon capture focuses on cleaning emissions at the source: scrubbers and filters on smokestacks that prevent harmful gases reaching the atmosphere. But this is impractical for small, numerous point sources like the planet’s billion or so automobiles. Nor can it address the CO2 that is already in the air. That’s where direct air capture comes in.

The number of things that would have to happen without direct air capture are so stretching and multiple it’s highly unlikely we can meet the Paris Agreements without it – Ajay Gambhir

If the world wants to avoid catastrophic climate change, switching to a carbon neutral society is not enough. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that limiting global warming to 1.5C by 2100 will require technologies such as DAC for “large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal measures” – large-scale meaning many billions of tonnes, or gigatonnes, each year. Elon Musk recently pledged $100m (£72m) to develop carbon capture technologies, while companies such as Microsoft, United Airlines and ExxonMobil are making billion-dollar investments in the field.

“Current models suggest we’re going to need to remove 10 gigatonnes of CO2 per year by 2050, and by the end of the century that number needs to double to 20 gigatonnes per year,” says Jane Zelikova, a climate scientist at the University of Wyoming. Right now, “we’re removing virtually none. We’re having to scale from zero.”

Carbon Engineering’s plant in Squamish is designed as a testbed for different technologies. But the firm is drawing up blueprints for a much larger plant in the oil fields of west Texas, which would fix 1 million tonnes of CO2 annually. “Once one is done, it’s a cookie cutter model, you simply build replicas of that plant,” says Oldham. Yet he admits the scale of the task ahead is dizzying. “We need to pull 800 gigatonnes out of the atmosphere. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

Blue-sky thinking

The science of direct air capture is straightforward. There are several ways to do it, but the one that Carbon Engineering’s system uses fans to draw air containing 0.04% CO2 (today’s atmospheric levels) across a filter drenched in potassium hydroxide solution – a caustic chemical commonly known as potash, used in soapmaking and various other applications. The potash absorbs CO2 from the air, after which the liquid is piped to a second chamber and mixed with calcium hydroxide (builder’s lime). The lime seizes hold of the dissolved CO2, producing small flakes of limestone. These limestone flakes are sieved off and heated in a third chamber, called a calciner, until they decompose, giving off pure CO2, which is captured and stored. At each stage, the leftover chemical residues are recycled back in the process, forming a closed reaction that repeats endlessly with no waste materials.



We’re past the point where reducing emissions needed to take place. We’re locking in our reliance on DAC more and more – Jane Zelikova

With global carbon emissions continuing to rise, the climate target of 1.5C is looking less and less likely without interventions like this.

“The number of things that would have to happen without direct air capture are so stretching and multiple it’s highly unlikely we can meet the Paris Agreements without it,” says Ajay Gambhir, senior researcher at the Imperial College Grantham Institute for Climate Change and an author of a 2019 paper on the role of DAC in climate mitigation.

The IPCC does present some climate-stabilising models that don’t rely on direct air capture, but Gambhir says these are “extremely ambitious” in their assumptions about advances in energy efficiency and people’s willingness to change their behaviour.

“We’re past the point where reducing emissions needed to take place,” says Zelikova. “We’re locking in our reliance on DAC more and more.”

DAC is far from the only way carbon can be taken out of the atmosphere. Carbon can be removed naturally through land use changes such as restoring peatland, or most popularly, planting forests. But this is slow and would require huge tracts of valuable land – foresting an area the size of the United States, by some estimates, and driving up food prices five-fold in the process. And in the case of trees, the carbon removal effect is limited, as they will eventually die and release their stored carbon, unless they can be felled and burned in a closed system.


The scale of the challenge for carbon removal using technologies like DAC, rather than plants, is no less gargantuan. Gambhir’s paper calculates that simply keeping pace with global CO2 emissions – currently 36 gigatonnes per year – would mean building in the region of 30,000 large-scale DAC plants, more than three for every coal-fired power station operating in the world today. Each plant would cost up to $500m (£362m) to build – coming in at a cost of up to $15 trillion (£11tn).

Every one of those facilities would need to be stocked with solvent to absorb CO2. Supplying a fleet of DAC plants big enough to capture 10 gigatonnes of CO2 every year will require around four million tonnes of potassium hydroxide, the entire annual global supply of this chemical one and a half times over.

Carbon Engineering’s pilot plant in British Columbia, is the “cookie cutter” model

for much larger DAC plants (Credit: Carbon Engineering)

And once those thousands of DAC plants are built, they also need power to run. “If this was a global industry absorbing 10 gigatonnes of CO2 a year, you would be expending 100 exajoules, about a sixth of total global energy,” says Gambhir. Most of this energy is needed to heat the calciner to around 800C – too intense for electrical power alone, so each DAC plant would need a gas furnace, and a ready supply of gas.

Costing the planet

Estimates of how much it costs to capture a tonne of CO2 from the air vary widely, ranging from $100 to $1,000 (£72 to £720) per tonne. Oldham says that most figures are unduly pessimistic – he is confident that Climate Engineering can fix a tonne of carbon for as little as $94 (£68), especially once it becomes a widespread industrial process.

A bigger issue is figuring out where to send the bill. Incredibly, saving the world turns out to be a pretty hard sell, commercially speaking. Direct air capture does result in one valuable commodity, though: thousands of tonnes of compressed CO2. This can be combined with hydrogen to make synthetic, carbon-neutral fuel. That could then be sold or burned in the gas furnaces of the calciner (where the emissions would be captured and the cycle continue once again).

Surprisingly, one of the biggest customers for compressed CO2 is the fossil fuel industry.

As wells run dry, it’s not uncommon to squeeze the remaining oil out of the ground by pressuring the reservoir using steam or gas in a process called enhanced oil recovery. Carbon dioxide is a popular choice for this, and comes with additional benefit of locking that carbon underground, completing the final stage of carbon capture and storage. Occidental Petroleum, which has partnered with Carbon Engineering to build a full-scale DAC plant in Texas, uses 50 million tonnes of CO2 every year in enhanced oil recovery. Each tonne of CO2 used in this way is worth about $225 (£163) in tax credits alone.

It’s perhaps fitting that the CO2 in our air is eventually being returned underground to the oil fields from whence it came, although maybe ironic that the only way to finance this is in the pursuit of yet more oil. Occidental and others hope that by pumping CO2 into the ground, they can drastically reduce the carbon impact of that oil: a typical enhanced-recovery operation sequesters one tonne of CO2 for every 1.5 tonnes it ultimately releases in fresh oil. So while the process reduces the emissions associated with oil, it doesn’t balance the books.

Though there are other uses that may become more commercially viable. Another direct air capture company, Climeworks, has 14 smaller scale units in operation sequestering 900 tonnes of CO2 a year, which it sells to a greenhouse to enhance the growth of pickles. It’s now working on a longer-term solution: a plant under construction in Iceland will mix captured CO2 with water and pump it 500-600m (1,600-2,000ft) underground, where the gas will react with the surrounding basalt and turn to stone. To finance this, it offers businesses and citizens the ability to buy carbon offsets, starting at a mere €7 (£6) per month. Can the rest of the world be convinced to buy in?

“DAC is always going to cost money, and unless you’re paid to do it, there is no financial incentive,” says Chris Goodall, author of What We Need To Do Now: For A Zero Carbon Future. “Climeworks can sell credits to virtuous people, write contracts with Microsoft and Stripe to take a few hundred tonnes a year out of the atmosphere, but this needs to be scaled up a millionfold, and that requires someone to pay for it.

“There are subsidies for electric cars, cheap financing for solar plants, but you don’t see these for DAC,” says Oldham. “There is so much focus on emission reduction, but there isn’t the same degree of focus on the rest of the problem, the volume of CO2 in the atmosphere. The big impediment for DAC is that thinking isn’t in policy.”

Zelikova believes that DAC will follow a similar path to other climate technologies, and become more affordable. “We have well-developed cost curves showing how technology can go down in cost really quickly,” says Zelikova. “We surmounted similar hurdles with wind and solar. The biggest thing is to deploy them as much as possible. It’s important for government to support commercialisation – it has a role as a first customer, and a customer with very deep pockets.”

Goodall advocates for a global carbon tax, which would make it expensive to emit carbon unless offsets were purchased. But he recognises this is still a politically unpalatable option. Nobody wants to pay higher taxes, especially if the externalities of our high-energy lifestyles – increasing wildfires, droughts, floods, sea level rise – are seen as being shouldered by somebody else.

Zelikova adds we also need broader conversation in society about how much these efforts should cost. “There is an enormous cost in climate change, in induced or exacerbated natural disasters. We need to do away with idea that DAC should be cheap.”

Risk and reward

Even if we agree to build 30,000 industrial scale DAC plants, find the chemical materials to run them, and the money to pay for it all, we won’t be out of the woods yet. In fact, we might end up in a worse position than before, thanks to a phenomenon known as mitigation deterrence.

“If you think DAC is going to be there in the medium- to long-term, you will not do as much near-term emissions reduction,” explains Gambhir. “If the scale-up goes wrong – if it turns out to be difficult to produce the sorbent, or that it degrades more quickly, if it’s trickier technologically, if turns out to be more expensive than expected, then in a sense by not acting quickly in the near-term, you’ve effectively locked yourself into a higher temperature pathway.”

Critics of DAC point out that much of its appeal lies in the promise of a hypothetical technology that allows us to continue living our carbon-rich lifestyles. Yet Oldham argues that for some hard-to-decarbonise industries, such as aviation, offsets that fund DAC might be the most viable option. “If it’s cheaper and easier to pull carbon out of air than to stop going up in the air, maybe that is what DAC plays in emission control.”

Gambhir argues that it’s not an “either-or” situation. “We need to rapidly reduce emissions in the near-term, but at same time, determinedly develop DAC to work out for sure if it’s going to be there for us in the future.” Zelikova agrees: “It’s a ‘yes, and’ situation,” she says. “DAC is a critical tool to balance out the carbon budget, so what we can’t eliminate today can be removed later.”

As Oldham seeks to scale up Carbon Engineering, the biggest fundamental factor is proving large scale DAC is “feasible, affordable and available”. If he’s successful, the future of our planet’s climate may once again be decided in the oil fields of Texas.

Source: Future Planet (BBC)


The flats are being built in Newhaven

A development of properties in Eastbourne town centre marks the first council homes ever to be constructed using modular technology.

The complex of 12 affordable flats is being built off-site in Newhaven by a specialist modular building company and then craned into place in Langney Road.

Cabinet Member for Housing Alan Shuttleworth, said, “It is really exciting to see a new development of affordable homes underway using highly sophisticated modular technology.“The site is currently being prepared for the arrival of the factory-built homes in the months to come.“New homes, rapid and efficient construction and residents on the council’s housing register living in them before the end of the year, it’s great news all-round.”

The design utilises Boutique Modern’s standard fabric first approach, maximising energy performance within each apartment through airtight construction and super insulation.

The housing scheme will also benefit from solar energy generation.

Cllr Shuttleworth added, “Although we only have a limited number of suitable areas where we can build, we have a number of sites within the built environment where we are bringing forward new schemes for affordable housing.

“This site in Langney Road is a good example of identifying a pocket of land in part of the town centre that will benefit greatly from these innovative and high-quality affordable new homes.”

Source: Eastbourne Herald

The firm has formed a strategic partnership with AFC Energy, a hydrogen power generation technology specialist, to trial and scale hydrogen in hard-to-abate activities across the sector.

As a first step, the Mace Group will begin testing hydrogen generators on selected construction sites in the UK and internationally in early 2022. Mace Group had notably already committed to remove diesel generators from all sites globally by 2026 – a commitment that will help deliver its aim of reducing absolute emissions from operations by 10% year-on-year from 2021.

Mace and AFC Energy will, simultaneously, work with plant hire firms and engage with policymakers to help promote a shift from diesel to hydrogen across the wider sector.

A statement from the two firms on this work reads: “The provision of temporary power to construction sites is currently provided through the hiring of on-site diesel gensets through plant hire businesses rather than constructors purchasing generators directly.  To drive the decarbonisation of the construction industry, it is essential that a market-based demand for alternative, sustainable on-site generation is signalled to plant hire businesses through partnerships like this one to support investment in deployable clean energy technologies including hydrogen fuel cells.”

In January, Mace announced that it has achieved net-zero emissions across operations and developments. However, it is hoping to reduce its direct emissions further in future, thus reducing its reliance on offsetting. The business is planning to publish a more detailed decarbonisation roadmap later this year.



Hydrogen policy

The announcement from Mace Group comes in the same week that the vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hydrogen, Alexander Stafford MP, has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge more support for hydrogen as a transport fuel.

Stafford’s letter stipulates that the UK will not meet the Hydrogen Taskforce’s recommended target of 100 hydrogen refuelling stations for road transport by 2025 – let alone ensuring that most hydrogen is green – unless costs are reduced.

While reducing costs will, ultimately, depend on the scaling up of green hydrogen generation globally, Stafford’s letter urges Johnson to also consider reforms to the renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO).

It states: “Under the current RTFO rules, hydrogen electrolysers can only be issued a certificate by connecting to new wind farms. There is approximately a three-year wait to synchronise the build of an electrolyser to the development timescales of new wind farms, which in effect delays the scaling of the UK’s hydrogen economy by three years.“

The letter stipulates that reform of RTFO rules would be timely, given that the Department for Transport is working with BEIS on both the Hydrogen Strategy and the Transport Decarbonisation Plan – both of which have faced Covid-19-related delays but are now due ahead of COP26.

The contents of the letter reflect discussions at a recent industry roundtable. Organisations represented at that meeting include Østed, Shell, Scottish Power and WrightBus.

“I am pleased by the cooperation of all major players across the hydrogen sector and look forward to working with the industry to achieve the necessary reforms to our existing legislature, which will unlock investment and help us on our way to reaching our net-zero ambitions,” Stafford summarised.


Source: Eddie

Synova and Technip Energies announce they have entered into a joint development and cooperation agreement to commercialize Synova’s advanced plastic waste-to-olefins technology, in conjunction with Technip Energies’ steam cracking technology.

Synova’s patented thermochemical recycling technology closes the gap in the plastic supply chain, by taking dirty and mixed plastic waste and breaking it down to its basic building blocks, such as olefin monomers and co-products, to produce circular plastics. The process has a low carbon footprint and displaces the need for virgin polymers, in addition to reducing the need for intensive plastic waste sorting.

The technology was invented by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), an independent Dutch research organization that, amongst others, develops technology relevant to the Circular Economy and Energy Transition. Together with Synova, the technology has been further developed, tested and piloted over a 15-year span.

Technip Energies brings its expertise in hydrocarbon treatment and purification, along with its unmatched experience in design, construction and upgrading steam cracker units to this partnership with Synova. The company will cooperate with Synova in the optimization and improvement of the plastic recycling technology.


“Chemical recycling is going to be a big business, and we have a technological advantage in the race”, said Van Morris, CEO of Synova. “Partnering with Technip Energies brings the expertise, skill and reputation to achieve the last mile of commercialization and allow this technology to provide a path to a more sustainable future.”

Stan Knez, Senior Vice-President Technip Energies Process Technology, stated: “Technip Energies is founded on the vision of accelerating the energy transition for a better tomorrow. This partnership with Synova supports our vision by providing consumers, manufacturers and plastic producers a circular economy route, using recycled monomers from end-of-life plastic waste.  The symbiotic coupling of the Technip Energies steam cracker knowledge and Synova technology provides a comprehensive offering.”

The result of the strategic partnership will provide a unique waste-to-olefins solution, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and end-of-life plastic pollution by closing the loop in support of a circular economy. The approach gives consumer goods manufacturers a way to achieve recycled content targets, as well as the continued use of current packaging materials now that there is a process to recycle them.




Wattie Milne, production director, and Callum Milne, managing director, at RADIX

A Scottish manufacturer and supplier of ground screws has claimed its new low carbon alternatives to concrete will revolutionise the construction industry.

Dundee-based RADIX has worked with a network of collaborators to create a ground screw alternative to concrete foundations which can be installed all-year round and in any weather conditions, in off-grid or hard-to-access areas, cutting out the process of excavation.

The company has appointed Essex-based Red Leaf Group as a distribution partner to supply ground screw foundations to clients across the UK.

Having built its early client-base around the garden room market – due to the huge increase in home working – RADIX is now scaling up to meet the needs of other sectors.

In the last 12 months, the company has supplied around 20,000 ground screws across the UK, providing foundations for holiday lodges, house extensions and modular homes.

RADIX is also in talks with a local authority considering swapping concrete for ground screws for a new social housing development project.

Callum Milne, managing director at RADIX, commented: “We are now seeing the demand from countless sectors over the country and, with years of technical knowhow and manufacturing expertise at our fingertips, are preparing to innovate further, allowing construction projects across the UK to up their game and build faster, with less mess, cost and disruption.”

Christian Alexander, chief executive at Red Leaf Group, said: “With sustainability, efficiency and ease of installation right at the heart of the products’ core benefits, ground screw foundations align perfectly with Red Leaf’s progressive and innovative business approach.”

RADIX launched in 2019 and has since moved into a new 3,000 sq ft premises in Dundee. It has more than 40,000 sq ft of office, manufacturing, warehouse and distribution centres.




Work has started on a controversial modular housing development in Bristol.

The homes are being built in a factory in Yorkshire and will be assembled on site in the city

A total of 185 homes are being built at the Bonnington Walk scheme in Lockleaze, including 64 council houses and 29 shared ownership properties.

The homes follow a deal between Bristol City Council and and Legal & General Modular Homes, which will manufacture the buildings off site from its factory in Sherburn-in-Elmet in Yorkshire.

The plans were approved in November 2020 despite objections over road safety, concerns over wildlife and loss of open space and allotments, which are being moved to nearby land off Dovercourt Road.

The Bristol Tree Forum also objected to hundreds of trees being felled, Bristol Live reported. A planning officer said 271 trees would be removed but 400 new ones planted on site and 55 elsewhere.

Bristol City councillor Gill Kirk said at a council meeting in November the new affordable homes would “change the lives” of a lot of people and it supported the application.

The local authority’s development control committee voted unanimously to grant permission subject to conditions and detailed contracts being finalised.

The proposed development includes a mixture of two-to-four-bedroom houses and one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as new allotment patches, green open space, a new local community hub, and walking, cycling and road improvements.

According to Legal & General Modular Homes, once the land is prepared, the homes can be assembled on site within eight weeks, with work already started on site clearance.

This will be followed by the formation of the new access roads and the construction of sewers, with the first modules to be delivered arriving in summer, the company said.

Rosie Toogood, chief executive of Legal & General Modular Homes, said: “Acquiring and beginning construction on Lockleaze is an exciting milestone for the business as we see our modular homes becoming part of communities across the UK.

“The modular construction sector is transforming the way homes are built and addressing the housing shortage. This forms part of our purpose of investing society’s capital for society’s benefit.

“The housing crisis is a human crisis and only more important as part of the UK’s post-pandemic recovery, and as people become more aware of the link between their health and wellbeing, and their homes and supporting communities.”

All homes will have an energy performance certificate (EPC) standard A, according to Legal & General Modular Homes.

It said the combination of air source heat pumps, photovoltaic cells and build standards would put the homes in the top 1% for energy performance.

Legal & General said its modular housing business had continued to grow and it was looking to hire an additional 350 employees in 2021, to deliver its growing pipeline, as well as supporting the UK’s bounce back post Covid-19.

The company has made a number of significant investments in Bristol in recent years, including having a £240m stake in the regeneration of Temple Quarter, a build-to-rent development and a proposed major mixed-use scheme on Temple Island.


Source: Bristol Live