Cemex concentrates solar heat for calcining, clinker production first

Sources: Cemex S.A.B. de C.V., Monterrey, Mexico; CP staff

Cemex and Synhelion researchers used intense heat generated from a mirror and tower assembly the latter company built to exploit solar rays bathing the IMDEA Energy facility.

In a joint project at the Very High Concentration Solar Tower of Spain’s IMDEA Energy, Cemex and Swiss sustainable fuels specialist Synhelion report processing of the world’s first “solar clinker.” Research and development teams set up a pilot batch production unit to weigh and transfer limestone, clay and other raw feeds through calcining and clinker phases at 1,500°C or higher temperatures. The combined phases typically represent 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions linked to finished portland cement. 

The pilot marks the first successful portland cement calcination and clinkerization ever achieved using only solar energy. Next up in their project, Cemex and Synhelion aim to produce solar clinker in larger quantities as they work towards an industrial scale pilot at a cement plant. 

“The production of the first solar clinker is an exciting milestone for this transformational technology. It is proof of our commitment to deliver tangible outcomes through innovation to achieve our goal of delivering only net-zero CO concrete by 2050,” says Cemex CEO Fernando Gonzalez.

“Our technology converts concentrated sunlight into the hottest existing solar process heat— beyond 1,500°C—on the market,” adds Synhelion CEO Dr. Gianluca Ambrosetti. “We are proud to demonstrate with Cemex one specific industrially relevant application of our fully renewable, high-temperature solar heat.

”Mirror and light tower technology amplifying sun rays has been considered in North America for concrete reinforcing steel production by Heliogen, a California-based contemporary of Synhelion.