A need for change
It’s essential for virtually every building project, not least key civil infrastructure, but the concrete industry also accounts for 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, equivalent to roughly 8% of the global total and a greater share than any country other than China or the US.
Change needs to happen quickly - legislation and impending changes to the carbon tax credits scheme effectively force the need for a new, decisive approach to bring emissions for cement in line with ambitious targets.
Carbon capture is widely seen as one of the best methods for industry to cut emissions and many are aware of the significant reductions it can deliver. The Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), for example, recently laid out a carbon reduction roadmap on behalf of 38 major producers across the world. CC has a central role in the plan, suggesting that 36% of the cement industry’s emissions can be addressed directly by carbon capture.
However, commercial-scale deployment of carbon capture solutions has been an ongoing challenge, with only a few having been tested at scale in the field. The only technology that has achieved this so far is amine gas treatment, sometimes called ‘carbon scrubbing'. But, getting the infrastructure in place for amine solutions can be disruptive, not to mention expensive if it hasn’t been costed-in when a facility is first designed.
The commercial risk when using amine is only made worse by the high amounts of energy required when using it to strip CO2 from a gas stream. One 2020 study from the Carbon Science and Technology Institute found that regenerating solvent on its own contributes 50%-80% of the total energy requirement. These solvents are also typically corrosive, chemically unstable and lead to further environmental complications due to amine slip. These issues further complicate CC, making it harder to convince decision-makers that it’s worth pursuing in the first place.
A ground-breaking solution at
$16 per tonne
There is now a solution to overcoming the complications of decarbonising cement production - MOF Technologies have developed Nuada, an ultra-energy efficient carbon capture system which provides energy and cost-effective CO2 capture directly from flue gas, delivering cost of capture as low as $16 per tonne of CO2.
This is virtually unmatched by current standards, providing the crucial first step for unlocking other parts of the CC value chain. Businesses could, for example, sell their surplus on to secondary markets for a profit.
MOF Technologies' Nuada carbon capture technology is being backed by cement industry leaders, such as Heidelberg Cement, for the Global Cement & Concrete Association's Innovandi Open Challenge, to decarbonise the concrete value chain.
80% less energy
We have shown that Nuada users can reduce the amount of energy used for carbon capture by an average of 80%, not to mention save money by adopting a ‘plug and play’ solution that bypasses the financial burden found with so many other projects of this type.
By using Nuada vs current carbon capture solutions, a cement plant could save around $1 billion over the lifetime of the plant, even before taking carbon tax implications into consideration.
The unrivalled performance of the Nuada carbon capture system is driven by mature vacuum pressure swing adsorption technology coupled with a MOF (Metal-Organic Framework) based filter that has been specifically designed to capture and remove CO2. MOFs are highly-engineered filters that use bespoke chemistry to target, capture and remove specific gases like CO2. It’s this selectivity combined with an ability to release with minimal energy input that gives Nuada such promise.
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Maintaining outputs & sustainability
With the Nuada system, existing plants don't need to be redesigned and the technology can work independently of, or be combined with, cement reformulation strategies. The environmental hazards associated with amines are also avoided.
Nuada is modular, meaning it can be easily connected to a facility’s waste gas line without extensive redesign or installation work. These units can be scaled according to demand, giving concrete production a non-invasive and far more cost-effective means to capture carbon at source.
This technology gives cement manufacturers a credible way to maintain current outputs while also meeting the obligations of business in a net zero era.