HeidelbergCement and RWTH Aachen investigate in binding CO2 in minerals
German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funds the project, named „CO2MIN“, with three million euros.
During the three-year research project „CO2MIN“, HeidelbergCement and RWTH Aachen University (RWTH Aachen) will explore the absorption of CO2 from flue gas by the minerals olivine and basalt. In the future, the carbonised minerals could be used as a value-added additive in the production of building materials. HeidelbergCement and RWTH are supported by the Potsdam Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the Dutch start-up Green Minerals. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the project, which began on 1 June 2017, with a sum of three million euros.
The natural minerals olivine and basalt are able to bind CO2 over their entire life-cycle. With natural absorption, it takes decades until the minerals are saturated with the greenhouse gas. The research project intends to speed up the absorption process. If successful, carbonised minerals can be used for various product applications.
The use of CO2 as a raw material has high priority in the climate strategy of HeidelbergCement. "We are already reducing the CO2 emissions of our plants very successfully by using alternative fuels and raw materials and by optimising the efficiency of our kilns," explains Jan Theulen, Director of Alternative Resources at HeidelbergCement. "In order to reduce CO2 emissions even further in the future, we have to develop and test new approaches. One of them is the binding of CO2 by minerals."
In the first year the research focuses on the investigation of different minerals in small-scale experiments. The carbonation of the most suitable minerals will be tested under realistic process conditions in the following year. The experiments will be conducted by the institute of Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling (IME), which also is the coordinator of the RWTH group. Life-cycle assessments (RWTH) as well as analyses of economic aspects and social acceptance (IASS) complete this project phase. In the third year, marketability and acceptance will be further optimised through intensive cooperation with customers.
HeidelbergCement is one of the world’s largest integrated manufacturers of building materials with leading market positions in aggregates, cement, and ready-mixed concrete. The company employs some 60,000 people at more than 3,000 locations in around 60 countries.
About RWTH Aachen University (RWTH)
With 44.500 students, 540 professors and 8.000 employees RWTH Aachen University is one of the most important technical universities in Germany. The RWTH is organised in nine faculties with 260 institutes and belongs to the leading European scientific and research institutes with a worldwide unique position in engineering fields.
About the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS)
The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany, has been founded in 2009 for the purpose of gathering all relevant forms of knowledge from science, society and politics in order to initiate and support a transformation towards sustainable development that is grounded in scientific research. Currently around 100 researchers from over 30 different countries are working at the institute on projects that span the humanities and the natural and social sciences. Our mission is to develop transformative knowledge which is needed to pave the way towards sustainable societies. Our research is conducted together with scientific, political and societal partners in order to develop solutions for urgent sustainability challenges and to support national and international decision-making processes.