Propelling the Commercialization of ‘Novel Cements’: An investigation of demand-side factors to accelerate decarbonizing technologies within the cement industry

University essay from Lunds universitet/Internationella miljöinstitutet

Abstract: Accounting for approximately 8% of global CO2 emissions, the cement industry is one of the greatest contributors to climate change, despite the lack of focus on this sector in popular discourse. Deep cuts in this sector are challenging to achieve due to necessitated alteration of material components and formulation of the traditional product in addressing non-energy related ‘process emissions’. Technologies able to deeply decarbonize this sector are currently not fully developed or commercialized. This research explores one innovative technology with deep decarbonization potential: novel cements, classified as non-limestone clinker-based cements or those with low-limestone content produced through alternative manufacturing methods. It focuses on the demand-side landscape of these products as increasing demand and adoption may promote wider commercialization and corresponding emissions reductions. More specifically, demand-side stakeholder landscape, drivers and barriers for novel cement commercialization, strategic niche management, and strategies to advance these technologies are investigated. These themes are examined from a geographically broad lens through the utilization of a literature review and expert interviews. Results support the potential for and benefits of novel cements being incubated and commercialized within certain niche applications and market segments. Following successes of these products in certain niches, novel cements may then be suited to expand to other, larger markets. Several demand-side barriers to the wider implementation of these products were identified, particularly risk aversion and lack of inclusion in standards and specifications, along with some interrelated supply-side factors. Several strategies that various actors can pursue in attempts to propel these technologies forward were also recognized including business-oriented strategies for manufacturers, various policy options, and collaboration opportunities amongst various actor groups to optimize knowledge and resource sharing. While novel cements offer decarbonizing attributes that can help to significantly decrease emissions in the cement sector, other green cement and concrete technologies compete with sustainability-driven demand for these products. However, there is likely no ‘silver bullet’ technology to decarbonize this sector; deep emissions reductions will require the simultaneous utilization of several technologies. Accordingly, the pursuit, development, and commercialization of novel cements as one of these technologies needs to be pursued.

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