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Innovandi ‘Open Challenge’ unveils first partnerships


First six start-ups to receive backing of world-leading cement companies as part of drive to reach Net Zero

THE Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) has today [10 May] revealed the first six start-ups that will be backed by its member companies as part of the first-ever Innovandi ‘Open Challenge’ in the race to ‘net zero’ by 2050.

The six start-ups, which were chosen from more than 100 entrants to the Open Challenge, hail from the US, Canada, the UK, Italy, and the Netherlands. They have now joined forces with world-leading cement companies to help drive further innovation in the industry and will each form part of formal consortia to further test, develop, and deploy their ground-breaking technologies.

One of the key focuses of the industry is to develop and implement technology for carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), with UK-based Coomtech and MOF Technologies being two of the initial six start-ups the industry is backing.

Coomtech have developed a low-energy, low-cost drying technology using kinetic energy, created by managed, turbulent air, to remove moisture. Revolutionizing a 100-year-old process, a single Coomtech-enabled plant is said to cut CO2 emissions by the equivalent of more than 600,000 mature trees per year and is 75% cheaper to operate.

Meanwhile, having developed a system that overcomes the traditional adoption barriers of energy and cost, MOF Technologies’ say their Nuada carbon capture technology uses metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to deliver energy-efficient CO2 removal at a fraction of the cost of conventional amines.

GCCA members have committed to moving from the dozens of pilot projects and announcements already under way to having 10 industrial-scale carbon capture plants by 2030 as part of the landmark Net Zero Roadmap, announced in October 2021. CCUS includes a range of technologies and methods that ‘capture’ CO2 from large sources – such as in industrial power generation. The CO2 is then either used on site or compressed and transported to be used or stored elsewhere.
The six newly established consortia will help to accelerate the development of technologies that reduce or eliminate carbon throughout the cement and concrete value chain. Each consortium is made up of a start-up company, with their respective pioneering technology, and includes between four and nine cement companies, with 16 GCCA member companies involved across the six innovation consortia.

The members of each consortium are working together to develop their technologies ahead of a demonstration day, scheduled for late 2022. Further consortia are expected to be announced over the coming weeks.

GCCA chief executive Thomas Guillot said: ‘It’s a proud moment to see the industry coming together to support such innovative start-ups on their journey. Our member companies were greatly impressed by their ambition to be a key part of the climate solution. The programme is another big step forward towards unlocking innovation to help us achieve our net-zero goal.

‘As the need for resilient and sustainable communities to support a growing global population becomes more pressing, cement and concrete will be essential to providing the infrastructure and buildings that society needs. Achieving net-zero concrete relies on several different groups playing their part, and as an industry we’re looking outwards as well as inwards, to see how start-ups like these can support our goals.

‘To achieve net zero globally by 2050, we also need to involve and support the future generations who contribute innovative ideas and energy to the industry. At GCCA, we’re identifying and convening research and development with great potential and offering our support through guidance and effective collaboration.’

Davide Zampini, head of research and development at CEMEX, remarked: ‘The GCCA’s Innovandi Open Challenge is a stimulating initiative that has united experts from GCCA’s various members. It has brought the industry together to achieve a common goal – to identify and accelerate the development of the most promising and innovative ideas to reduce our carbon footprint.

‘It is more evident than ever that only through collaboration and innovation will the industries represented by the GCCA be able to reach their 2050 goal of producing carbon-neutral concrete. We cannot wait to discover the opportunities and support the start-ups.’

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