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Matterup: greener construction with raw earth

Matterup: greener construction with raw earth

It all started in 2018 when two twin brothers, Matthieu and Charles Neuville, embarked on the crazy project of reinventing the way we build. Say goodbye to traditional, energy-intensive concrete and hello to raw clay-based concrete. This Landes company is called Matter’up and here is its story.

Matter’up: visionary founders

The world’s population continues to grow and with it, the construction of new housing. Most of these buildings are mostly made of concrete. Cement is the main ingredient and it needs to be heated to 1400 degrees celsius for 13 hours! This process only increases our CO2 emissions and represents one of the great challenges of climate change.

Matthieu Neuville is a doctor in physics and chemistry. He worked for more than 10 years in Research and Development at Lafarge then within the company Total Energies in the field of cements and concretes. His brother, Charles, meanwhile, had a career in finance at the Société Générale investment bank. Between them, they form a shock duo. They are joined by their friend and chemistry doctor Manuel Mercé. The latter specializes in the recycling and durability of asphalt mixes.

The collaboration of the three men flourished over the years and in 2018 Matter’up was born. Their objective is simple: to create a clay-based cement and reduce the emissions of traditional cement by 40%. Well, it’s done! Patented in-house, with their Argiroc and Cycla clay cement, Matter’up exploits this natural resource in an ethical and environmentally friendly way.

Landes innovation seduces many investors and in 2020, only two years after the creation of the start-up, the company receives financing in the amount of 3 million euros from four major funds, the Ademe, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, bpifrance and other banking partners. Enough to give Matter’up all the means to further develop their technology and their factories.

Raw clay, an abundant natural resource that respects the environment

Matter’up has two product lines: Argiroc and Cycla. The first is made from MCC1 clay cement, a local, raw clay that requires no cooking. The exploitation of the resource is close to the place of production, which further reduces CO2 emissions.

Agile’s second range of cement, Cycla, comes from construction waste. As its name suggests, this product is based on the principle of a circular economy by reusing construction site debris, dredged sediment, quarry fines or excavation soil. Matter’up sees these sites as a real opportunity: “By transforming waste into material, the city becomes its own career. Here is the beautiful philosophy of the French start-up which shows us that it is possible to produce while respecting the environment.

In addition, we are often looking for new materials and energy sources that are more respectful of the planet. Raw clay has a very low carbon cost since its carbon footprint is 350 kg of C02 per ton, a reduction of 40% compared to a ton of traditional concrete. Clay is also an extremely abundant local material. There are more than 2 million billion tons exploitable in the world! Enough to build buildings for several generations to come.

Raw clay is also a real solution in the world of construction thanks to its versatility. In a building, these concrete stones made from raw clay can be used for the interior or exterior veil, the slab, the screed, the stairs or even the pre-wall. This raw clay can also be used for urban landscaping such as cycle paths and street furniture (benches).

Another advantage of this new way of building is its aesthetic side. Finished are the gray and dull buildings, with the raw clay of Matter’up these stones can reflect the surrounding environment. Take for example the pink city of Toulouse, Matter’up has the possibility of producing raw clay concrete in the same color as the stones of the city in the South-East.

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The preservation of clean water and access to it for all is at the heart of Less Saves The Planet’s commitments. You can now read Chapter 4 SAVING WATER AND THE EARTH from our book Less Saves The Planet available for free. The entire book is also available on our website.

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