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Cemex eyes cement decarbonisation using Australian technology

Global construction material company Cemex is launching new decarbonisation projects in three of its global cement plants, where it will use game-changing carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) technology developed by Australian company Calix.

Cemex this week announced that it will be conducting three Front End Engineering (FEED) studies to scale CCUS technologies at its plants in Germany, Poland, and the US.

The studies fall under the scope of a new global license agreement with Leilac, a subsidiary of Australian technology company Calix. The agreement enables Cemex to leverage Leilac’s highly efficient direct separation technology, to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) at a low cost in its operations.

The cement and lime industries have relatively high CO2 emissions and are responsible for around eight per cent of global CO2 emissions.

The majority of CO2 emissions are released directly and unavoidably from the processing of the raw materials – not from the combustion of fossil fuels.

Calix’s technology re-engineers the existing process flows of a traditional calciner, indirectly heating the limestone via a special steel vessel. This unique system enables pure CO2 to be captured as it is released from the limestone, as the furnace exhaust gases are kept separate.

The solution requires no additional chemicals or processes, and minimal changes to the conventional processes for cement.

In an ASX announcement, Calix announced it was working closely with Cemex to progress the three projects, as well as a global licence agreement, currently under negotiation, covering Cemex’s global operations.

“Calix and Leilac will continue to work with Cemex towards the shared goal of decarbonised cement and lime,” the announcement said.

Cemex is currently leading several CCUS projects throughout its global cement operations, where the total projects portfolio has a potential to avoid more than three million tons (2.7 million tonnes) of carbon emissions a year.

A partnership with research institute TNO and another FEED study with the US Department of Energy will see Cemex develop large-scale carbon capture systems in its cement plants in Europe, Mexico, and the US.

Leilac, Calix’s 93 per cent owned subsidiary focused on the decarbonisation of cement and lime, and Cemex have a longstanding partnership.

Cemex is a founding member of a consortium of companies and institutions partnering to develop and apply the Leilac technology through the Leilac-1 and Leilac-2 projects.

In Australia, both Adbri and Boral are working with Calix to establish plants for low emission lime and cement production.

Adbri has committed to a FEED study underway for its decarbonisation project with Calix and Leilac to develop the world’s first commercial scale process for low emissions lime.

Separately, Calix is engaging with Boral to explore the feasibility of developing a CCUS project at Boral’s cement and lime facilities in the NSW Southern Highlands, targeting 100,000 tonnes per year of CO2.

Both projects are currently awaiting funding from the Australian Government’s new Carbon Capture Technologies program, announced in the Federal Budget 2022-23, through which the government will provide $141.1 million over ten years as part of a realignment of investment in carbon capture technologies. The program is expected to open in 2023.

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