LEIGHTON BUZZARD, England — Just after sunrise, a concrete plant located in a muddy industrial zone north of London stirs to life. Workers in orange suits and hard hats watch through a protective window as a machine presses what looks like red sand into a tray of brick-shaped blocks.
Further along the line, other workers carefully measure these ruddy-colored blocks, pitch rejects into bins, and then adjust the machinery to correct errors.
Joining the dawn patrol on this fall morning is a team from a company called Solidia Technologies. Solidia is based in Piscataway, N. J., and has financial backing from a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well as oil companies like BP and Total of France.