Home » Tech start-ups issued carbon capture challenge

Tech start-ups issued carbon capture challenge

by Mark Cantrell
A plant growing out of a concrete pavement

A pioneering international programme, which brings together tech start-ups and leading manufacturers in the pursuit of net zero construction, has launched.

Innovandi Open Challenge 2024 is run by the Global Cement & Concrete Association (GCCA).

The international industry body is focused on helping the cement industry reduce its emissions and ultimately achieve net zero concrete; itself a major theme in the new competition.

Applications are being encouraged from start-ups from around the world, interested in working on the development of carbon capture use and storage (CCUS), for low carbon cement and concrete.

Innovative technologies are sought, says the GCCA, including process-integrated and end-of-pipe CO2 capture and use, to help prevent the carbon being emitted into the atmosphere.

Claude Loréa, the GCCA’s cement, innovation and ESG director, said: “Our industry is committed to achieving net zero and the development of carbon capture technology is a key part of that work.

“Our world leading Innovandi Open Challenge programme has already seen remarkable progress being made in just two years, with start-ups and our member companies working together. We’re looking forward to seeing what this year’s applicants can bring, to build on the extensive work that is already underway across the world.”

This will be the 3rd Innovandi Open Challenge, and is intended to build on the success of previous years. The first challenge, in 2022, also focused on the development of carbon capture technology, and two start-ups have already gone to pilot stage.

The 15 start-ups shortlisted in last year’s 2nd Innovandi Challenge, to work on the development of low carbon concrete, are currently in discussion with manufacturers about forming partnerships.

According to the GCCA, its members – which account for 80% of global cement production capacity outside of China – and a number of leading Chinese manufacturers, have committed to reaching net zero by 2050, through the GCCA’s Concrete Future 2050 Net Zero Roadmap.

The GCCA has also recently signed a ground-breaking agreement to work together on decarbonisation with the China Cement Association (CCA).

The development of new technologies is a key part of the industry’s roadmap to net zero. The GCCA says carbon capture and storage technology is expected to account for around 36% of total emission reductions by 2050.

The industry’s first industrial-scale cement plant equipped with CO2 capture technology is scheduled to be mechanically completed at the Heidelberg Materials site in Brevik, Norway, by the end of 2024, with several more plants expected to open by 2030.

Thomas Guillot, chief executive of the GCCA, said: “We already know CCUS technology works, with pilots and projects underway across the world, but it’s crucial to see what other innovations are out there, beyond our industry, that could help accelerate our net zero mission.

“We encourage applications from start-ups around the globe to join us in the urgent fight to limit global warming. If you are a start up from Austria to Australia, from Brazil to Bangladesh, with an innovative idea or technology to further develop CCUS, then you should be applying.”

Jonathan Cool, chief executive of Ultra High Materials, a start-up which participated in last year’s Open Challenge, encouraged others to apply: “The support, guidance, exposure to the GCCA membership and the facilitation of collaborative opportunities with GCCA members has been effective, efficient and it’s made a beneficial impact for all of us. Given the option to do it all again, we certainly would.”

Image credit: namtipStudio/Shutterstock

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