Cemex USA and research institute RTI International have received a $3.7m grant from the US Department of Energy to advance carbon capture technology in cement manufacturing.
The 18-month, front-end engineering design (FEED) study, which is to be conducted at Cemex’ Balcones Cement Plant in New Braunfels, Texas, is expected to determine and assess the overall costs of the integration of a 670,000 tonne-carbon dioxide (CO2) per year commercial-scale carbon capture system into the manufacturing process.
Other partners include SLB, a global technology company and the licensor for RTI’s non-aqueous solvent (NAS) capture technology.
The agreement will help fund an innovative carbon capture study utilising RTI’s non-aqueous amine technology as it seeks to set emission reduction standards for the cement industry.
The project team will also evaluate CO2 capture from cement flue gas redirected into a tower for reaction with RTI’s NAS with a 95% CO2 capture efficiency.
The new study, which is expected to cost $4.6m overall, is the second grant-backed initiative at Cemex Balcones plant since 2020. The plant recently concluded a carbon capture study that examined the use of membrane technology.
Jaime Muguiro, Cemex USA President, said, “Cemex has ambitious CO2 reduction goals, and we remain committed to exploring technologies that can help us meet our targets as we build a more sustainable future. We are striving to cut emissions across all our operations, and this study with RTI is one of the many steps CEMEX is taking to achieve our objectives.”
RTI will use a non-aqueous solvent which it has developed over the past decade in several DOE-funded projects.
Vijay Gupta, a research chemical engineer at RTI and the project’s principal investigator, said, “NAS lowers the parasitic energy penalty for CO2 capture 30-40% compared to earlier solvent technologies and has been demonstrated successfully through the engineering scale.”
Cemex and RTI are also currently conducting a second Carbon Capture, Utiliaation and Storage (CCUS) study at CEMEX’s Victorville, Calif., cement plant. The study, backed by a separate grant, is examining the costs associated with the implementation of a NAS carbon capture system with a modular design.
Around 8% of global CO2 emissions come from cement production.
According to McKinsey, cement also generates the most emissions per revenue dollar, although it has the potential to cut three-quarters of its emissions by 2050 by embracing alternative fuels, clinker substitutes and new technologies.
As the development of technologies such as CCUS and carbon-cured concrete could take up to ten years, investments should be made as soon as possible, it states.
“With the right mindset, decarbonisation and reinvention can go hand in hand: just as automakers increasingly view their role as providing mobility, not just making cars, cement companies could likewise be in the business of providing construction solutions,” it concludes.
“As climate pressures increase and sales of traditional cement and concrete face threats, the combination of new thinking, innovation, and new business models will be critical to helping ensure a profitable – and greener – future.”