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Rondo Energy eyes cement plants

Megan Hernbroth
Apr 27, 2022
Illustration of a pair of hands laying down bricks made of hundred dollar bills. 
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Rondo Energy, a startup that makes energy storage systems for industrial heating, is setting its sights on cement plants.

Why it matters: Heavy industry is attracting startups and investors alike, but the hard-to-decarbonize construction behemoths are unintentionally spawning startups with wider-ranging impacts.

Driving the news: Rondo Energy is partnering with construction equipment maker FLSmidth and French cement producers Vicat and Colombian producer Cementos Argos to form ECoClay, a consortium with the goal of reducing emissions from cement production.

  • In addition to electrifying the heating portion of the cement production process via Rondo, the consortium has also developed a calcine clay to replace some of the limestone used in current cement production.

How it works: Rondo Energy makes a heat battery using bricks and an alloy similar to what you'd find in a household toaster to capture energy produced by noncontinuous renewable sources like solar or wind.

  • Its batteries store heat for continuous use at high temperatures through the startups' boiler and furnace applications.
  • The boilers are a drop-in product that can go into an industrial facility without much change, Rondo CEO John O'Donnell tells Axios.
  • The furnaces are what will go into the cement plants to provide high-temperature continuous heat to fuel the cement production processes.

💭 Our thought bubble: Decarbonizing any one of the many highly complex, materials-based industries like cement will take a large bench of startups operating along the different intersection points of energy use.

  • The cement and concrete industry alone can support a growing market of startups with wider applications beyond heavy construction.
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