Solar energy in cement manufacturing

LafargeHolcim in partnership with leading Swiss research institutes Paul Scherrer Institute and ETH Zurich


LafargeHolcim, Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and ETH Zurich have brought together the most competent resources to perform long-term oriented research into the use of concentrated solar energy in cement manufacturing.

In meeting future challenges, research and development (R&D) in sustainable and energy-efficient manufacturing plays an important role for LafargeHolcim, one of the largest suppliers of cement, aggregates and ready-mix concrete worldwide. The substitution of fossil fuels by renewable fuels in the energy-intensive cement manufacturing process conserves natural resources and reduces CO2 emissions.

PSI and ETH Zurich are performing high level research on all aspects of human energy use, with the ultimate goal of promoting developments towards a sustainable energy supply.

In 2007, LafargeHolcim initiated a close research collaboration with the Solar Technology Laboratory of the Paul Scherrer Institute and the Professorship of Renewable Energy Carriers at ETH Zurich. In the joint project, high-temperature solar heat is used for upgrading low-grade carbonaceous feedstock to produce a high-quality synthetic gas. This synthetic gas could be used for substituting fossil fuels in cement kilns.

The pre-feasibility of this solar steam gasification process was investigated with experiments in a high-flux solar facility at PSI. The high-temperature solar reactor technology is now going to be developed and demonstrated in larger scale experiments, co-funded by CTI (Swiss public innovation promotion agency).

With this R&D project, LafargeHolcim, PSI and ETH Zurich are making pioneering contributions to developing sustainable technology to mitigate CO2 emissions in cement production. The research partners already hold various patents on this promising technology in the area.

For further information, please contact:

  • Solar Technology Laboratory, Paul Scherrer Institute
  • Professorship of Renewable Energy Carriers, ETH Zürich