Affordable carbon capture for the cement industry

Article by Amanda Jasi

CEMEX has signed an agreement with carbon capture tech company Carbon Clean that will see them jointly develop industrial-scale technology for the cement industry to capture CO2 for less than US$30/t.

According to Carbon Clean, modularisation could offer a fast and scalable solution to carbon capture. The company is currently working to develop fully modularised carbon capture systems, but already offers systems that modularise and contain about 80% of the capture system and enable capture of 80–100 t/d of CO2.

The companies will work to develop an efficient and affordable carbon capture solution for the cement industry by 2021. As part of the agreement, they will further develop and adapt Carbon Clean’s third-generation modularised carbon capture technology for the cement industry.

Carbon Clean uses an integrated modular system that works using rotating packed beds (RPBs) to intensify the carbon capture process. RPBs employ centrifugal force to improve mass transfer. According to the partners, Carbon Clean’s technology could enable a significant reduction in capital costs and equipment size compared to traditional technologies, enabling wider-scale commercial deployment of carbon capture systems.

The partners will deploy an industrial-scale pilot to capture up to 100,000 t/y of CO2 for less than US$30/t of CO2, thereby taking a relevant step needed to enable its adoption by the cement sector at a global scale. The consultancy McKinsey noted in a study published this year that while CO2 emissions from purer sources can be captured for around US$25-30/t, the costs for more diluted sources including cement and steel-making plants, can range from US$60/t to more than US$150/t.

The companies will work to make the technology more efficient before construction of what the companies claim will be the most efficient commercial installation for capture in the cement industry. The companies also aim to develop the largest modular carbon capture facility in the cement industry, at the lowest commercial cost possible.

The technology will be tested for the first time in the cement industry with the pilot to be deployed at a CEMEX facility during Q1 of 2021.

The partners say that making carbon capture technology accessible and more efficient would be an unprecedented achievement for the cement sector, opening the door for further developments in this area.

Gonzalo Galindo, Head of CEMEX Ventures, said: “Accomplishing CO2 capture at an industrial scale and affordable cost is one of the biggest challenges that CEMEX is facing in its road to deliver net-zero CO2 concrete products globally by 2050. Partnering with Carbon Clean seemed like a perfect fit for us. We believe in their technology and know that working together, we can make possible a more cost-effective carbon capture solution below the US$30/t threshold.”

CEMEX signed the agreement with Carbon Clean through CEMEX Ventures, its corporate ventures capital unit.

Carbon Clean was previously known as Carbon Clean Solutions (CCSL) before announcing its new corporate identity on 1 September.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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