Cemex’s time in the sun

Cemex has announced it will build a fully solar-driven industrial-sized pilot plant using new technology to produce clinker entirely from the sun’s energy.

Success of the venture will see the usual 40% of direct CO₂ emissions created by fossil fuels which heat a rotary kiln at 1500 C in the production process taken out of the equation. The technology also creates the conditions to separate and capture the remaining CO₂ from calcination in concentrated form without extra effort.

Cemex, one of the world’s top five producers of cement, is working with green tech enterprise Synhelion, evolved from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), scaling its technology to industrially-viable levels.

Cemex’s CEO Fernando A. Gonzalex is backing the plans all the way.

“I am convinced we are getting closer to the technologies that will enable net-zero CO₂ cement and concrete production,” he said. “The solid progress I see here proves that solar cement is not just a dream; it is achievable through continued collaboration and backed up by rigorous research and testing.”

In early 2022, Cemex and Synhelion announced the first-ever successful production of solar clinker in a small-scale batch pilot. Since then, production of cement under plant-like continuous conditions has confirmed the potential of the technology to reach industrial-scale implementation.

The joint venture of Cemex, Synhelion and Sandia National Laboratories known as Solar MEAD, has received some heavy-weight backing from the US Department of Energy in funding of US$3.2 million to study the conditions to maximise heat transfer to the raw cement mix.

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is our weekly news journalist and the editor of Concrete in Australia magazine for 10 years. She has been heavily involved in all forms of engineering since 2013; part of a 30-year writing career across a range of subjects and media.