I&D and Innovation

R&D and Innovation

Research & Development is an increasingly important pillar of CIMPOR's Sustainable Development policy. Over the last 15 years, several collaborations with both portuguese and international universities and research institutes have been developed and involved in various R&D projects (such as; Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP), FCT-Universidade de Coimbra, Universidade de Évora (UÉ), Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), FCT-Universidade NOVA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Eduardo Torroja Institute (IET), European Cement Research Academy (ECRA), etc.). Most of these R&D projects are geared towards sustainability in business, specifically seeking to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This includes:

•    Novos produtos (clínquer e cimento)

•    New cement materials

•    Alternative fuels and raw materials

•    More energy efficient technologies at various stages of the manufacturing process

•  Capture, use and storage of CO2

CIMPOR has responded to this demand for the continuous and incremental improvement of processes and products through the evaluation and implementation of international practices and technologies. With its sights set on the future, CIMPOR has spent the past few years working on long-term strategies based on Research & Development (R&D) programmes to respond to the coming challenges the company will face and develop key competencies in priority areas.

The R&D initiatives have been conducted directly by CIMPOR on some occasions, while others have resulted from partnerships with universities and research institutes of international prestige. The main focus of many of these initiatives has been climate change.

Exclusively CIMPOR funded R&D Projects

Our R&D projects have been mainly centred on reducing CO2 emissions associated with the cement manufacturing process, including: 
•   The capture and use of CO2;

•    Nanoengineering of C-S-H;

•    New types of low carbon clinker (e.g., X-Clinker);

•    Geopolymers;

•    New additions to replace some clinker; 

•    Artificial pozzolana cement;

•    New types of low carbon cement;

CO2 reduction towards carbon neutrality by 2050 is the biggest challenge CIMPOR and our sector face in the coming years. Many new developments will take place in a variety of areas, such as; new hydraulic binders and using more alternative fuels and raw materials. This could include projects like “RDF drying”, creating alternative fuels and raw materials from waste produced by other industries and the potential use of vegetable biomass waste as an alternative fuel in our kilns. It could also include new equipment for the cement industry (e.g., waste heat recovery to produce electric energy, rationalisation of energy consumption, production of renewable energy, using small hydrogen incorporations in the kiln burners, cement grinding optimisation, etc.).

Funded or co-funded R&D projects

In addition, CIMPOR regularly participates in applications for various R&D projects funded both nationally and by the EU. The following H2020 projects are currently underway:

•    StrategyCCUS (Carbon Capture, Use & Storage| Strategic planning of Regions and Territories in Europe for low-carbon energy and industry through CCUS, 2019 – 2022) (Grant No 837754); 
•    EMB3Rs (User-driven Energy-Matching & Business Prospection Tool for Industrial Excess Heat/Cold Reduction, Recovery and Redistribution, 2019 – 2022) (Grant No. 847121); 
•   LEILAC-2 (Low Emissions Intensity Lime And Cement, 2020-2024) (Grant No. 884170). 

c5Lab - Collaborative Laboratory of the national cement sector

CIMPOR understands that the only way to reduce CO2 emissions to achieve the climate objectives is to continually innovate its practices, products, and technology. To this end, we seek partnerships with entities various skillsets, uniting industry and scientific institutions in common projects. In 2020, CIMPOR, along with four important national partners, became a founding member of the collaborative laboratory (CoLab) of the cement sector, c5Lab.

This CoLab was born from a collaboration between the portuguese government and various national industries and national scientific entities, with the objective of boosting innovation in the sector.

One of the aims of the c5Lab is to support innovation in the cement sector, developing pre-competitive research with a focus on reducing the CO2 footprint of clinker, cement and concrete.

This would permit a radical transformation of the cement sector, eventually allowing it to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This important tripartite partnership, Academy / Industry / State Laboratory will gain international recognition within the sector and may even, in some areas of our industry, develop distinctive competencies and carry out international R&D, integrating perennially in other R&D international networks within the industry.

All this must be accomplished based on the integration of advanced scientific and technical knowledge, using highly qualified human resources in close pre-competitive cooperation among companies in the sector, universities, research centres, and state laboratories. All this to monitor and convert the latest scientific developments into knowledge and our own solutions, which can be immediately applied to the cement industry.

R&D activities in the c5Lab currently cover three main domains:

•   Area 1: Capture & Use of CO2

•    Area 2: Transition & Energy Efficiency

•    Area 3: Sustainable cement materials and innovation in industrial process

Numerous projects are already in development, and many others in the pipeline, all involving over 50 c5Lab researchers along with their partners.