SOMERVILLE, Mass.–Today Dr. Leah Ellis, chief executive officer and co-founder of Sublime Systems, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) on the unique position the federal government holds in accelerating the decarbonization of heavy industry such as cement. Sublime Systems is working to reduce the carbon footprint of cement — currently responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions — by commercializing technology to manufacture the only fossil-fuel-free, scalable, drop-in replacement for ordinary portland cement (OPC) in concrete.
Dr. Ellis thanked EPW Chairman Tom Carper for his leadership in organizing the hearing and explained that industrial decarbonization simultaneously creates economic opportunities, enhances American competitiveness, and fights climate change while producing materials the world relies on for infrastructure. Dr. Ellis’ testimony emphasized key policy levers that have so far helped low carbon cement and concrete developers and that should be bolstered with further funding and implementation, such as:
- The General Service Administration’s and Federal Highway Administration’s funding to procure low-embodied-carbon materials in federal construction projects — an essential influence given the public sector accounts for 50-60% of all cement consumed in the U.S.
- The Department of Energy’s new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, which provides non-dilutive funding to help novel technology scale to the point at which they can compete on cost.
- Expansion of tax credits, which currently apply to carbon captured, but not carbon avoided through novel industrial production methods such as Sublime’s. Dr. Ellis encouraged a reshaping of the credits to create a level playing field for all technologies mitigating climate change.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — that’s my translation,” said Sen. Alex Padilla in response to Dr. Ellis’ advocacy on the expansion of tax credits to carbon avoidance technologies.
Sublime Systems is currently planning for its first commercial plant, which will produce as much as 30,000 metric tons of its low carbon Sublime Cement™ per year. The company has identified a city in Western Massachusetts as the proposed location of this plant and has proactively engaged city officials, non-profits, unions, and educators to ensure the presence of Sublime Systems provides high quality jobs, training, and education that serve the local residents first.
“Delivering additional tangible benefits to neighbors near Sublime facilities is inherent to Sublime’s broader mission in service to humanity and the planet,” Dr. Ellis remarked. “Sublime welcomes the opportunity to not only rethink a cleaner cement manufacturing process, but also the way communities engage with clean tech companies throughout the entire project lifecycle. The decarbonization of American industry offers an unparalleled opportunity to spur an American manufacturing revival, in particular serving communities that have been long been overlooked and left behind in decades of offshoring and digital transformation.”
Dr. Ellis and the committee members discussed how the federal government can use its buying and specifying power to accelerate the deployment of low carbon cement, which would then enable that technology to be deployed globally, mitigating massive and growing cement emissions in other countries. Sen. Edward Markey acknowledged this catalytic influence and opportunity for export of made-in-American technology: “We can export that new technology that gets developed — because the federal government had strong procurement policies — around the rest of the world.”
The full hearing can be viewed here, and Dr. Ellis’ written testimony can be accessed here. To learn more about incorporating Sublime Cement™ into your construction projects, connect with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Sublime Systems
Sublime Systems is on a mission to have a swift, massive, and enduring impact on global CO2 emissions with a breakthrough process that can manufacture cement without fossil fuels or limestone. Sublime replaces the industry’s legacy kilns with an electrochemical process that makes cement at ambient temperature, extracting calcium and silicates from an abundance of raw materials to make cement. This novel approach bypasses both CO2 process emissions and heating emissions, without the need for post-combustion carbon capture, producing ASTM C1157-compliant Sublime Cement™ as a drop-in replacement for ordinary portland cement in concrete. Sublime was founded at MIT by Dr. Leah Ellis and Prof. Yet-Ming Chiang, both respected experts in materials science, electrochemical systems, and sustainability research. The company has raised more than $50M from a leading consortium of climate tech investors, ARPA-E funding, and strategic investor Siam Cement Group, the largest cement producer in Southeast Asia. It currently operates a pilot plant with a >100-tonnes-per-year production capacity. Learn more at sublime-systems.com.
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