Fortera created a new process to manufacture low-CO2 cement that can be used in place of ordinary Portland cement. Here, Ryan Gilliam, CEO and co-founder of Fortera, explains how Fortera’s unique technology can help us further decarbonise.
Can you tell us a bit about the company and its founders?
Fortera’s technology has been in development for over 15 years with a successful pilot plant built and is in the process of commissioning a small commercial-sized plant in Redding, CA. Fortera was founded in 2019 by our CTO and myself, we helped develop the technology at a previous company where the technology was incubated.
Fortera’s focus is to commercialise the technology. Through several key process changes, what was a great cement chemistry a decade ago is now an economical product as well that can compete with Portland cement costs. I successfully founded three startups in the green chemical space and scaled up multiple production plants from the lab to commercial scale.
How does your solution contribute to the Digitalisation and Decarbonisation of the energy sector?
Fortera manufactures a new cement that emits 60% less CO2 than the Portland cement it replaces. The material can be manufactured at an existing cement plant utilizing a bulk of the infrastructure in place including the feedstocks. The fundamental difference is that in ordinary cement production, CO2 is chemically and unavoidably released, whereas Fortera’s chemistry is able to get to a cementitious product without chemically releasing CO2 as part of the production process.
What is your company’s proudest achievement to date?
We are building and commissioning our first commercial-scale plant in Redding, CA which will be the largest CO2 mineralisation project in the world, where we are taking actual industrial CO2 from a kiln and mineralising that gas stream into a valuable product. This plant will be in production in Q3 2023.
What specifically attracts you to the prospect of expanding to the Japanese market?
Fortera relies on limestone as the feedstock which is abundantly available in good quality in Japan. Because our process does not emit CO2 during the calcination of limestone to make cement, we are able to turn one ton of limestone into one ton of cement, compared to Portland cement production which loses almost half the weight of the limestone to CO2 emissions. This ability to maximise the usage of limestone is very important not just from a CO2 perspective, but also how efficiently we utilise our natural resources which we believe will be very important for keeping production local and extending quarry life.
How will your solution/product help advance the Japanese energy sector?
The Fortera process consumes less energy and can more easily be converted to electricity due to lower processing temperatures allowing for alternative energy sources for production. Only needing 900C for calcination unlocks renewable energy sources such as electric or indirect kiln technology that typically becomes inefficient at temperatures above 1000C.