Sublime to Manufacture Fossil-Fuel-Free Cement at Newly Acquired Site in Massachusetts

Jan. 11, 2024
The cement is manufactured without fossil fuels or decomposing limestone – the two major emissions sources of traditional cement manufacturing

Sublime Systems, the developer of a fossil-fuel-free, scalable, drop-in replacement for traditional cement in concrete, has secured a site for its first commercial manufacturing facility.

The site is comprised of 16 acres in Holyoke, Massachusetts, which formerly hosted paper mills that produced 80% of writing paper in the US in the late 19th century, and is currently being powered by Holyoke’s dam and canal resources – a critical infrastructure requirement for Sublime’s fully electrified cement manufacturing process.

The Holyoke Dam and Canal system, owned by Holyoke Gas & Electric, will provide Sublime with an energy mix comprised of over 90% renewable and carbon-free generators.

When selecting a site for its future facility, Sublime used criteria such as proximity to headquarters, access to talent, renewable electricity supply, and industrial permitting. The company ultimately selected Holyoke for its dual opportunity to help local residents in the near term while progressing towards impacting global CO2 emissions.

“The same qualities that made Holyoke a world-class industrial hub in the past perfectly position it to now be the home for clean tech manufacturing of the future,” said Dr. Leah Ellis, Sublime Systems CEO and Co-Founder. “The site exemplifies that in its ample space, industrial zoning, access to renewable hydroelectricity, utilities, and even rail.”

Holyoke also recognized the importance of forging a relationship with the company due to its benefits for the residents and Massachusetts’ emerging green manufacturing economy. As a result, Sublime was awarded two critical incentives – a state tax credit from the Economic Development Incentive Program and a local Tax Increment Financing award to help offset property taxes.

Throughout the facility’s construction and operation, Sublime intends to create dozens of jobs and has been working closely with local community organizers and business development groups, such as the OneHolyoke Community Development Corporation (CDC), to achieve a mutually beneficial scenario for all involved.

“Sublime Systems’ low-carbon cement manufacturing project is not just a business development – it is a major stride towards the Holyoke we envision: innovative, prosperous, enterprising, and future-oriented,” said Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia. “By supporting this initiative, we are fostering a new paradigm where economic growth and the health of our planet are seen as interconnected and interdependent, not separate or mutually exclusive.”

Sublime’s Holyoke facility is projected to be completed as soon as 2026 and will produce tens of thousands of tons per year of its low-carbon cement. The cement is manufactured without fossil fuels or decomposing limestone – the two major emissions sources of traditional cement manufacturing.

Instead, the company utilizes an electrochemical process that turns abundantly available non-carbonate rocks and industrial waste that doesn’t release CO2 when decomposed into cement at ambient temperatures – effectively eliminating the need for fossil fuels entirely.

According to the company, Sublime’s electrolyzer can be considered a variation of a water-splitting electrolyzer. One electrode produces a solution to extract calcium from inert minerals and leaves behind a reactive silicate.

The second electrode produces alkalinity, which precipitates calcium – or lime – as a pure, reactive solid. The reactive calcium and silicates are blended in a low-temperature process to produce fossil-fuel-free cement that has comparable ultimate strength, durability, slump, and set time as traditional cement.

The company also plans to use the new plant to grow its customer base and fully de-risk its technology before building a 1 million ton per year capacity plant, which is equivalent to the size of a traditional cement manufacturing facility.

About the Author

Breanna Sandridge, Senior Editor

Breanna Sandridge is senior editor for EnergyTech and Microgrid Knowledge, both part of the energy group at Endeavor Business Media.

Prior to that, Breanna was managing editor for Machinery Lubrication and Reliable Plant magazines, both part of Noria Corp. She has two years experience covering the industrial sector.

She also is a 2021 graduate of Northeastern State University (Oklahoma) with a Bachelor's in English.