Energy Department funds CO2 storage feasibility study at cement plant

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Sources: Heidelberg Materials North America, Irving, Texas; CMCM staff

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise initiative (CarbonSAFE) has awarded nearly $9 million for a study of carbon dioxide storage prospects in the subsurface geology at Heidelberg Materials’ upgraded Mitchell, Ind. cement plant. The proposed study will geologically characterize candidate reservoirs under the facility for safe storage of more than 50 million metric tons of CO2 over a 30-year timeframe.

Managed by the U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory, the award will be issued to the Illinois State Geological Survey at the University of Illinois (ISGS) as the prime contractor, with Heidelberg Materials as technical and industrial partner. The cement, aggregate and ready mixed concrete producer is contributing about $1.5 million while ISGS provides approximately $600,000 for a project total of $11.1 million. The anchor funding is from a nearly $125 million CarbonSAFE pool backing 10 projects to characterize carbon storage suitability across the U.S.

Heidelberg Materials marked a Mitchell plant construction milestone in mid-2022, placing the new kiln (background) and preheater tower (right) on track for full operation this year.

With more than triple legacy capacity, Heidelberg Materials’ new Mitchell operation will incorporate features to minimize energy consumption and enable the use of alternative fuels and raw materials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Along with capital upgrades at the Indiana site and sister operations the world over, Heidelberg Materials views carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) methods as playing a significant role on the path to net zero carbon.

“We are committed to leading our sector in developing viable carbon capture technology, which we believe is essential to achieving our sustainability goals,” affirms Heidelberg Materials North America CEO Chris Ward. “We are excited to continue exploring CCUS at our Mitchell facility in anticipation that it could be the first of our cement plants in the U.S. to achieve net zero carbon.”