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Creation 45(1):21, January 2023

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Concrete from algae challenges millions of years

CC BY-SA 2.5 Generic | Alison R. Taylor (Universityof North Carolina Wilmington Microscopy Facility) |WikimediaEmiliania-huxleyi-coccolithophore
Scanning electron microscopic image of the marine planktonic coccolithophore species Calcidiscus (or Cyclococcolithus) leptoporus. Seen here is the coccosphere ‘skeleton’ (c. 0.03 mm or 1/1000th inch in diameter) surrounding its single cell. This is made up of calcite plates called coccoliths.


Researchers have discovered how they could produce the cement used in concrete quickly, efficiently, and in a much more environmentally friendly way—by growing the marine planktonic algae known as coccolithophores.

These single-celled organisms, typically powered by the sun, use CO2 from their environment to manufacture miniature plates of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which make up their protective shell. The plates from these same algae formed the vast deposits of chalk (a form of limestone) around the world, famously seen at Britain’s White Cliffs of Dover.

Cement is made by grinding and heating quarried limestone, a source of CaCO3. If coccolithophores were grown to produce CaCO3 for concrete, replacing quarrying limestone, energy costs and pollution could be driven down spectacularly.

The researchers estimate that “only 1 to 2 million acres of open ponds [would be needed] … to produce all of the cement that the U.S. needs” per year.1 That translates to a lot of concrete! In 2021, annual US production was c. 300 million cubic metres (c. 400 million cubic yards), weighing some 720 million tonnes.2

Evolutionists have long claimed that chalk had to form slowly over millions of years. However, recent evidence of vast seasonal oceanic coccolithophore blooms had already presented a challenge to such thinking.3 The super-fast growth of coccolithophores in the nutrient-rich, warm waters of the globe-covering Flood of Noah could have easily deposited staggering amounts of CaCO3 during that year-long event.

The researchers say, “The only difference between limestone and what these organisms create in real time is a few million years.”2 Ironically, they themselves have shown that for at least one type of limestone, millions of years are not required.4

Posted on homepage: 25 March 2024

References and notes

  1. Simpkins, K., Cities of the future may be built with algae-grown limestone, colorado.edu, 23 Jun 2022. Return to text.
  2. This estimate was for ready-mixed forms, so the total would be even higher; concretefinancialinsights.com/us-concrete-industry-data, accessed 18 Jul 2022. Return to text.
  3. Cox, G., Chalk challenges deep-time dogma, Creation 43(1):36–39, 2021. Return to text.
  4. The vast ages are under challenge for other modes of limestone formation, too. See e.g. Anon, Grand Canyon limestone—fast or slow deposits? Creation 17(3):50–51, 1995. Return to text.

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