UK based climate focused AI company, Carbon Re, just closed a £4.2m seed funding round to help reduce inefficiencies in cement production.
Built on Carbon
The built environment is one of the largest contributors to carbon equivalent emissions, with buildings accounting for upto 39% of the global emissions.
Much of this comes from the energy intensive materials required in their development. Steel and cement are two of the primary materials used in construction and these alone can account for more than 20% of global CO2 emissions.
Our modern lives are literally built on cement and steel, so it is unlikely that these materials will be usurped by novel lower-carbon materials at any scale in the near future, so reducing the carbon emissions of these manufacturing processes is crucial.
Carbon Re, a UK based artificial intelligence company, has its sights set on doing just this. Their lofty, purpose-driven goal is to reduce humanity’s carbon equivalent (CO2e) emissions by a gigatonne a year.
While their ambition is bigger, cement production is the first target of their research-backed AI technology, “Delta Zero”.
Adding AI into Cement
Carbon Re’s approach is to use AI, specifically deep reinforcement learning, to create digital-twins of the cement plant, and provide actionable insights to operators that reduce energy usage and therefore reduce carbon emissions.
Carbon Re claim that their technology is able to identify fuel savings throughout what’s known as the “clinker” production phase that amount to 10% energy reductions and up to 20% reduction in fuel-derived carbon emissions.
Their platform ingests vasts amount of near-realtime data from the plant’s dynamic control systems to create hourly and daily fuel optimisation recommendations that plant operators are tasked with reviewing and implementing. This kind of approach to AI is known as “human-in-the-loop”, ensuring that human’s stay in control of critical processes, using AI to create insights and information on which they can act.
Adapting to New Fuels
As the energy industry transforms to different fuels, so must industries that depend on it. In the last decade the cement industry has faced pressure to incorporate new energy into their fuel mixes, creating quality control challenges.
While the cement industry might seem to have had a rock-solid history, it has been one of continual change, albeit more gradual than modern day.
The rate of change presented by our current global condition necessitates much more rapid transformation, and it is here that Carbon Re also hope to give manufacturers the support they need to decarbonise while incorporating new, more uncertain fuel types.
Find out more about Carbon Re here.