The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), which was passed into law last August, directs federal funding to a variety of sectors in the forms of grants, loans and tax incentives for corporations, and to a lesser extent to consumers. Significant amounts of the funding are directed to manufacturing and innovations that advance “clean energy” and decarbonization. The IRA is already having a noticeable impact on driving technological developments, as can be seen in the number of project announcements that cite IRA funding.
Momentum for developing low-carbon energy is picking up, and many current developments cite federal funding as a strong supporting factor. Recent announcements include developing low-carbon hydrogen production, sustainable aviation fuels, batteries, fuel cells, carbon capture and more. Examples include: Linde (www.linde.com) plans to invest $1.8 billion to supply clean hydrogen to OCI’s (www.oci.nl) blue ammonia project in Texas; LG Chem (www.lgchem.com) plans a $3-billion cathode plant in Tennessee; and Plug Power (www.plugpower.com) and Johnson Matthey (www.matthey.com) have partnered to advance the “green hydrogen” economy and plan to co-invest in what is expected to be the largest catalyst-coated membranes facility in the world. More information can be found on our website (www.chemengonline.com).
While much attention is on the energy transition, another area that is poised to benefit from federal funding is the advancement of lower-carbon cement production. Cement processing is a major source of CO2 emissions and demand for cement is expected to increase, particularly with the passing of the U.S. Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE; www.aceee.org) says that technologies for low-carbon cement production are ready for market expansion and that funding from the IRA may accelerate their commercialization.
One development announced just last month was the capture of CO2 via direct air capture (DAC) and its subsequent permanent storage in concrete. The demonstration project led by CarbonCure Technologies (www.carboncure.com) and Heirloom (www.heirloomcarbon.com), is said to be the first such achievement. Heirloom reportedly used its DAC technology to capture CO2 from the atmosphere, after which CarbonCure’s reclaimed water technology was used to inject the captured CO2 into wastewater, which was then used to make concrete. The CO2 is said to be durably sequestered in the concrete as calcium carbonate. The companies say that DAC technologies have recently received large investments from the IRA, as well as from the Department of Energy’s DAC hub program (www.energy.gov).
To further encourage advancements in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions associated with the production and use of construction materials, such as cement, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; www.epa.gov) recently announced new programs made possible by a $350-million investment from the IRA. The EPA is currently seeking public input on establishing these programs. Three public engagement webinars will be held in March and April. More information about the programs and webinars can be found on the EPA’s website. ■
Dorothy Lozowski, Editorial Director