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2020 / 2021 Edition

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CEMEX collaborate with Carbon Upcycling

Carbon Upcycling reactor vessel

Agreement signed with Carbon Upcycling to use nanotechnology to produce low-CO2 concrete

CEMEX have signed an agreement with Canadian firm Carbon Upcycling Technologies with the aim of improving the processing of residue or by-products of industrial processes and capturing CO2 emissions to produce nanomaterials with greater reactivity and a lower carbon footprint, thereby allowing the production of concretes with a low CO2 footprint capable of meeting the construction industry’s strictest requirements.

CEMEX signed the agreement with Calgary-based Carbon Upcycling, a leading company in the development of nanomaterials derived from the use of CO2 for industrial use, through their corporate venture capital unit, CEMEX Ventures.

Whilst CEMEX use approximately 3 million tonnes of industrial residue each year as additions to cement and concrete, a large portion of industrial waste produced annually cannot be recycled due to its low reactivity. Large quantities of residue or by-products continue to be deposited in landfills and other dump sites, creating significant economic, environmental, and social costs.

This new initiative seeks to increase the reactivity of industrial residues, allowing greater availability of additions with cementitious qualities. Through the venture, CEMEX expect to double their current use of industrial residue to some 6 million tonnes annually by 2030, thereby reducing their carbon footprint significantly.

Carbon Upcycling technology transforms residues such as fly ash and slag, making them more reactive and increasing their cementitious properties. The use of CO2 previously captured, combined with a physical transformation of the material during the process, generates a new addition for the cement that allows the production of concrete with a low environmental footprint.

The improvement in the cementitious capacity of materials achieved by the Carbon Upcycling technology will expand the range of sources that can be used to reduce the amount of clinker needed in cement production and the amount of cement required in concrete.

The agreement will begin with a co-ordinated analysis between CEMEX and Carbon Upcycling and its implementation on an industrial scale. CEMEX’s know-how and experience in materials science research and development, in addition to Carbon Upcycling’s innovative process, is expected to generate synergies that will accelerate the development and industrialization of the technology.

CEMEX and Carbon Upcycling anticipate initial results from this joint research and development effort by mid-2021.

‘This agreement with Carbon Upcycling is yet another example of our determination to deliver net-zero CO2 concrete products globally by 2050,’ said Gonzalo Galindo, head of CEMEX Ventures.

‘Our roadmap to achieve this global ambition involves continuing to innovate our technology internally while, at the same time, continuing to seek complementary innovation outside of CEMEX through investments in start-ups, consortia and high-value collaboration agreements such as the one reached with Carbon Upcycling.’

Apoorv Sinha, chief executive officer of Carbon Upcycling Technologies, commented: ‘We’re thrilled to be partnering with CEMEX Ventures on this initiative and working with CEMEX to achieve their net-zero CO2 commitment.

‘Investigating industrial residue that could be upcycled will unlock the applicability of our technology to achieve emissions reduction in concrete products globally. This works towards a larger vision of beneficiating under-utilized materials, such as natural pozzolanic materials, to reduce the use of Portland cement in commercial concrete mixes.

‘We’ve already shown the ability to reduce cement use by over 10% in field deployments across Calgary and are confident that this number can be significantly improved with further research and development.’

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