The renewable energy company Enertrag, the global cement manufacturer Cemex and the electrolysis company Sunfire are launching “Concrete Chemicals”, a lighthouse project for the decarbonization of the cement industry. Together with partners from industry and academia, the partners have submitted a funding application under the “Decarbonization of Industry” funding program of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) to receive financial support for the start-up phase of the project.
With the current ramp-up of the green hydrogen economy, pioneering large-scale projects are essential to achieve the EU’s ambitious climate targets. Concrete Chemicals marks an important milestone in solving the emissions challenge. The international consortium is setting the course for climate-neutral cement production by converting CO2 into green methanol, clean chemical products and synthetic fuels.
Once funding is approved, an industrial-scale demonstration plant will be built directly on the site of the Cemex cement plant near Rüdersdorf, one of the largest cement production sites in Germany. With commissioning planned for 2025, the plant is expected to produce 5000 t of green hydrocarbons per year. CO2 captured on site from the cement plant and green hydrogen produced by a Sunfire electrolyzer will be used as feedstock. In a further step, the green hydrocarbons produced can be converted into synthetic fuels and renewable chemical products. Alternatively, the project partners are also considering a methanol synthesis route, where green methanol can be produced from renewable syngas. A specific technological process will be determined as the project develops.
“We know that it is essential for our industry to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our production. In this way, we can work with our industry partners to create a CO2-neutral world. Concrete Chemicals is a promising project and an essential part of Cemex’s Carbon Neutral Alliance initiative, which aims to develop industrial-scale demonstration projects using breakthrough technologies,” said Sergio Menendez, President of Cemex EMEA.
Under the project, cleantech company Sunfire is supplying a 20-megawatt alkaline pressurized electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen, as well as a Co-SOEC high-temperature electrolyzer to produce syngas – a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. It is the world’s first combination of two different electrolysis processes in one process. Sunfire’s electrolysis technologies are the most reliable and efficient solutions available on the market today.
“Our vision is to make renewable energy available everywhere – especially in industrial sectors with high carbon footprints. Our electrolysis solutions help our customers reduce their carbon emissions. We look forward to bringing our in-depth know-how and reliable technology to the Concrete Chemicals consortium. Together with strong industry partners and political support, we will take a significant step towards climate neutrality,” says Sunfire CEO Nils Aldag.
The Concrete Chemicals plant in Rüdersdorf will be powered exclusively by renewable electricity from Enertrag’s wind energy and solar plants in Brandenburg. The implementation of the project offers the opportunity to serve as a best practice for the cement industry in Europe and worldwide and to demonstrate the technological possibilities of converting CO2 into usable products. With the aim of establishing low-carbon cement production in the long term, the project will also contribute to achieving the goals of the European Green Deal.
“We have developed our knowledge in the areas of sector coupling and hydrogen production not only through our experience of operating our electrolysis plant for several years, but also through active participation in several research and innovation projects. Now we are bringing this knowledge to drive the energy transition in sectors that are difficult to decarbonize and help build a market for green hydrogen,” said Jörg Müller, Enertrag CEO.