Cemex, Synhelion sustain cement-grade heat from solar power

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Sources: Cemex S.A.B. de C.V., Monterrey, Mexico; CMCM staff

Swiss concentrated solar power (CSP) technology developer Synhelion SA and global cement producer Cemex report prospective scaling of a high-temperature process to industrially-viable levels, where energy from sun rays supplants fossil fuel combustion. CSP-based pyroprocessing applications include continuous formation of clinker, the most energy-intensive aspect of  portland cement production. Fossil fuels used in the calcination and subsequent clinker phases typically account for 40 percent of a cement plant’s carbon dioxide emissions. A 2022 energy lab demonstration in Spain saw researchers leverage Synhelion devices and fuel conversion methods to reach a temperature hovering 1,500° over a window sufficient to yield a clinker specimen produced solely from solar power. 

Synhelion solar power receiver surpasses 1,500° threshold.

“I am convinced we are getting closer to the technologies that will enable net-zero carbon dioxide cement and concrete production,” says Cemex CEO Fernando González. “The solid progress here proves that solar cement is not just a dream; it is achievable through continued collaboration and backed up by rigorous research and testing.”

“Our technology can make an important contribution toward decarbonizing cement production, and we look forward to more trailblazing achievements in this field,” adds Synhelion Co-Founder and Co-CEO Gianluca Ambrosetti

Replacing fossil fuels with solar energy-derived alternatives would catapult Cemex efforts to achieve carbon neutrality across its cement, aggregate and concrete operations. The technology and processes Cemex and Synhelion are refining creates the conditions to separate, and therefore capture, the remaining calcination phase CO2 in concentrated form without additional efforts. The project is part of the Cemex Future in Action program, which focuses on achieving sustainable excellence through climate action, circularity, and natural resource management with the primary objective of becoming a net-zero CO2 operator by 2050.

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