Agency commits $20M to Ash Grove, Buzzi, CalPortland, Sublime carbon work

The U.S. Department of Energy is contributing to five projects in Decarbonizing Cement and Concrete, one of eight topic areas in the agency’s Industrial Heat Shot program, where present funding and grants total $171 million. Industrial Heat Shot is part of the broader Industrial Emissions Reduction Development Program under the DOE Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office. The Cement and Concrete project themes, participants, and federal funding shares are:

  • Advanced Electrolytic Cement Process for Lower-Energy Use with Alternative Calcium Sources, led by Sublime Systems, Somerville, Mass.; $6.7 million;
  • Decarbonizing Concrete: Low Temperature Calcined Clays as an Alternative Concrete Binder, Achieving Durability with Clay Beneficiation, led by Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., with partner Buzzi Unicem USA; $2 million;
  • Inter-grinding of Waste Activators and Low-grade Calcined Kaolin Clay for On-part Akali-activated Concrete Technology, led by Princeton University, New Jersey, with partners Cornell University, University of Texas, Austin and Ash Grove Cement; $2 million;
  • Repurposing Dredged Sediment as an SCM for Producing Low Clinker Factor Cement and Concrete, led by Ash Grove Cement, Overland Park, Kan., with partners Arizona State University, Missouri University of Science & Technology and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; $4.3 million; and,
  • Value-added Mineralization of Carbon Dioxide from Cement Manufacturing in Recycled Concrete and Paste for Manufacturing of Low-carbon Cementitious Materials, led by CalPortland Co., Las Vegas; $4 million.

“CalPortland is dedicated to providing low carbon building materials through science-based research and development. We are honored to receive this grant from the U.S. Department of Energy,” says CEO Allen Hamblen. “Using low carbon concrete to build America’s infrastructure will ensure a resilient and long-lasting environment for future generations.”

The Cement and Concrete projects, along with 44 others in such topic areas as Industrial Heat (10 projects, $25.3 million), Chemicals (six projects, $30.5 million), Iron & Steel (seven projects, $37 million), and Forest Products (five projects, $12 million) will support high-impact, applied research, development, and pilot-scale technology validation, plus demonstrations of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies. The projects will advance cross-sector industrial decarbonization approaches to tackle challenges common across various industries. Of the projects selected, 16 will be led by private industry, 22 by academic institutions, three by non-profit organizations, and eight by DOE National Laboratories.

Announcement of the Industrial Heat Shot project funding commitments, notes Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, “will help advance the innovative technologies we need to lower costs and improve energy efficiency in America’s factories and industrial centers. Ensuring America’s industrial sector and its robust workforce remain strong and competitive is key to maintaining our nation’s edge as a global economic powerhouse and accelerating [the] vision of a strong, made-in-America clean energy future.”

Alicia Hodges

The Board of the Department of Commerce-authorized Concrete Masonry Checkoff has named Alicia Hodges as program director. She will initially manage 23 national and regional projects that directors approved over 2024-26 schedules, explore grant opportunities, and support the Board’s future program selections. One of her top priorities will be collaborating with the five CMC Regional Advisory Committees, comprising concrete masonry producers and allied stakeholders, which drive allocation of 50 percent of CMC assessment collections and advance projects relevant to regional, state or local priorities.

An Iowa State University graduate, Hodges arrives from the American Concrete Pipe Association, where she served as director of Education. That position followed 10-plus years in Target Corp. retail and management assignments. “I look forward to collaborating with the Regional Advisory Committees across the country, producers throughout the industry, and having the opportunity learn from this great team,” she says. “This is an exciting time for the Concrete Masonry Checkoff, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it.”

“Alicia brings a collaborative spirit to the Checkoff,” adds CMC CEO Kim Spahn. “I’m impressed with her dynamic drive, as well as how she measures success. With a passion for learning, Alicia is a welcome addition.”

Spahn and Hodges are the sole CMC full time employees. Their day to day activities will include frequent interfacing with lead Checkoff contractor Clutch Performance. The Minnesota-based agency serves as Communications Partner and will especially assist in development and execution of a national marketing program for 2024 and beyond.

The U.S Customs and Border Protection Agency has determined that Utah-based Superior Commercial Solutions LLC evaded anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) by illegally trans-shipping quartz countertops or quartz surface products (QSP) by means of material false statements or omissions. An agency report notes, “There is substantial record evidence that SCS entered covered merchandise through evasion. As SCS concedes in its administrative review request, the record provides substantial evidence that SCS entered Chinese-origin QSP (i.e., merchandise covered by the AD/CVD Orders) that was trans-shipped through Vietnam into the United States. SCS did not make AD/CVD deposits on these shipments, and declared them as type ‘01’ entries, not subject to AD/CVD duties. This was false and, thus, the record supports a finding of evasion.”

SCS imports and installs quartz countertops for commercial or residential buildings. Publicly available agency information suggests that SCS will be liable for roughly $3.5 million in AD/CVD as a result of the finding. Industry observers note that the determination could also have financial impacts on certain SCS accounts.

“Our company and many of our customers have been aware of this situation for some time and the negative impact it has had on the Utah countertop supply industry,” says Chad Brown, general counsel at CP Build Enterprises, a supplier of interior finishes for commercial construction projects. “We’re even aware of one contractor who, knowing SCS was under federal investigation, decided to proceed with ordering anyway in spite of the known risk. We’ll have to see if that works out for them.”

The case was brought to the attention of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency by quartz countertop manufacturer Cambria Company LLC of LeSuer, Minn. Cambria CEO Marty Davis has been outspoken on the issue of free and fair trade policies and played a critical role in leveling the playing field for the domestic quartz countertops industry. Illegal dumping of Chinese goods is a significant and growing problem in the United States, the company contends, and has negative ramifications for U.S. jobs, wages, price of goods, plus health and safety consequences. Illegal activity likewise poses risks of penalty for purchasers of the goods, in this case, developers and general contractors ordering the countertops.