CEMEX, Sandia Labs, Synhelion to Produce Cement with Solar Energy
CEMEX, Sandia National Laboratories and Synhelion have launched the Solar MEAD project, which seeks to introduce new concentrated solar power technology to rapidly produce cement. This technique will also help the industry’s goal of producing net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
CEMEX, Sandia Labs and Synhelion announced that the US Department of Energy granted them a US$3.2 million grant on Feb. 16, 2023, to support their efforts to scale solar technology to produce cement. The companies’ goal is to achieve carbon neutrality in the industry by 2050 by replacing the consumption of fossil fuels with concentrated solar power.
The Solar MEAD project, which stands for Solar-Thermal Mixed-Media Enhancement and Decarbonization of Clinker Formation, seeks to decarbonize cement production by using concentrated solar thermal power (CST) in the production of clinker, explained CEMEX via a press release.
The objective of the project is to develop processes that cut down on carbon dioxide emissions, reducing process temperatures and increasing the efficiency of solar-powered clinker formation. The three companies will analyze ways to maximize heat transfer to the cement raw materials as well. The adoption of the technology will allow an absolute replacement of fossil fuels, lowering costs and creating more efficient carbon capture methods.
Sandia, an R&D laboratory of the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, will provide its National Solar Thermal Testing Facility for the project. The laboratory will provide expertise and assistance in the transition of the technology for cement production.
“For the first time ever, CEMEX and Synhelion successfully connected the clinker production process with the Synhelion solar receiver, producing solar clinker. This revolutionary innovation is an initial step to develop fully solar-driven cement plants,” says CEMEX via a press release.
CEMEX and Synhelion explained that the world's first solar clinker was produced at the IMDEA Energy solar tower near Madrid, Spain. Synhelion is the first company to sustainably generate process heat at over 1,500°C with concentrated solar radiation, which serves as a vehicle to produce fuel and cement.
The heat generated by Synhelion's technology is sufficient to produce clinker without burning fossil fuels. "Solar-powered cement is an exciting technology with tremendous potential to reduce the carbon footprint of cement production," says Fernando González Olivieri, CEMEX, CEO. González highlights that CEMEX aims to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, arguing that constant innovation is required to continue developing cutting-edge technologies.
“This project gives us the opportunity to use our sustainable technology to support the decarbonization of clinker and cement production, an energy-intensive process. This solution can have a huge impact on the industry and will help pave the way towards carbon neutrality. We are proud to contribute to this goal,” adds Gianluca Ambrosetti, CEO and Co-Founder, Synhelion.