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DOE Invests $4.1M Toward Decarbonizing Cement Manufacturing

(Credit: Pixabay)

The US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) has invested $4.1 million to accelerate the large-scale development and deployment of concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) technology for industrial decarbonization and electrical power generation and storage. This project will aim to demonstrate a first-of-its-kind concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) process for decarbonizing the heating of limestone to 950°C, which could reduce the carbon emissions associated with cement manufacturing. The DOE selected Heliogen, a renewable energy technology company utilizing concentrated sunlight and thermal storage for decarbonization, to receive this monetary award.

Heliogen, in collaboration with the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Michigan, Martin Marietta and CTP Advanced Composites, aims to demonstrate a solar-driven calciner utilizing the Heliogen concentrated solar thermal system to heat up the feedstock and drive endothermic chemical decarbonation up to 950oC. This demonstration aims to provide a foundation for developing a commercial solar calcination system enabling CO2 capture and heat recovery, including solar calciner design and modeling tools, prototype fabrications and testing, and technoeconomic analysis for future scale-up in industrial applications. When applied to a multi-acre field, Heliogen’s AI/computer-vision based control system can achieve the high temperatures required for solar thermal calcination research.

Energy-intensive cement production contributes approximately 7% of global CO2 emissions, while over 80% of the energy used in cement production is consumed by calcination. The receiver-reactor and associated technologies developed for this project will aim to eliminate the majority of CO2 emissions to significantly decarbonize cement production.

Heliogen was selected as a part of the SETO Fiscal Year 2022 CSP Research, Development, and Demonstration funding program, an effort to lower the cost of CSP technologies and create new market opportunities for the industry, with the goal of enabling substantial deployment of CSP to decarbonize the electricity grid and energy system. Heliogen’s solar-driven calciner design is one of several projects that will enable concentrating solar-thermal technologies with thermal energy storage to be integrated with high-temperature industrial processes to produce economically important products, like cement, fuels, and other chemicals.

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