CEMEX and Synhelion have announced the successful production of what they claim is the the world’s first solar clinker, the key component of cement.
The companies say the “breakthrough” achievement is an initial step towards developing fully solar-driven cement plants.
Clinker is produced by fusing together limestone, clay and other materials in a rotary kiln at temperatures nearing 1,500°C, with fossil fuels typically used to heat the kiln which are responsible for around 40% of direct carbon emissions.
The two companies set up a pilot batch production unit at the Very High Concentration Solar Tower of IMDEA Energy in Spain to produce clinker from concentrated solar radiation by connecting the clinker production process with the Synhelion solar receiver.
The solar receiver heats a gaseous heat transfer fluid and provides the necessary process heat for clinker production.
Dr. Gianluca Ambrosetti, CEO and Co-Founder of Synhelion said: “Our technology converts concentrated sunlight into the hottest existing solar process heat – beyond 1,500°C – on the market.
“We are proud to demonstrate together with CEMEX one specific industrially relevant application of our fully renewable, high-temperature solar heat.”
Replacing fossil fuels entirely with solar energy would be a “gamechanger” in the industry’s efforts towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Fernando A. Gonzalez, CEO of CEMEX added: “The production of the first solar clinker is an exciting milestone for this transformational technology. It is proof of our commitment to deliver tangible outcomes through innovation to achieve our goal of delivering only net zero CO2 concrete by 2050.
“CEMEX is building a better future and that future must be sustainable.”