Cleantech Construction Map

Our sustainability approach through Open Innovation: Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), Decarbonization Alternatives, Circularity & Waste Management, Water Efficiency, and Design & Architecture to decarbonize the built environment and promote circularity. Discover the 25 most promising Cleantech solutions of 2024.

Cleantech is the abbreviation of clean technology, which refers to any technology that simultaneously reduces or optimizes the use of natural resources while lessening or avoiding altogether the environmental damage of a process, product, or service. Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), waste management solutions, and alternative industrial heat sources are just a few examples of popular clean technologies. As an active investor in Contech and adjacent industries, Cleantech solutions fall under our sustainability investment focus area (Green Construction).
As the construction industry aggressively works to cut carbon emissions and reduce its negative impact on the environment, many startups and top construction companies are looking actively to develop and implement innovations in Cleantech.
Cemex Ventures is dedicated to leading the construction industry revolution as it becomes greener and cleaner. Cemex Ventures’ team of investment specialists scope out the most disruptive clean technologies that have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions and promote a circular economy.

Cemex’s mission is to build a better future. To do that, however, we must address humanity’s most pressing issue: climate change. That’s why Cemex’s sustainability program, Future in Action, sets out aggressive decarbonization goals with a very specific roadmap to achieve them. Cemex Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) and open innovation unit of Cemex, attempts to connect disruptive clean technologies to Cemex’s core business through its investment portfolio and exclusive startup accelerator, Cemex Ventures Leaplab, which focuses on high-potential innovative startups. To learn more about the clean technologies and green construction startups Cemex Ventures is investing in and promoting within the industry, keep reading.

Clean technologies in construction

Our 2024 perspective on clean technology applications for construction.

Discover the clean technologies

Clean technologies at Cemex

As one of the world’s largest building solutions providers, our purpose is to build a better future, but in order to do so, we recognize the urgency of addressing climate change.

Fully aware that our production processes have a carbon footprint and that our end-product, ready-mix concrete, is the most used man-made material in the world and plays an essential role in society’s development and growth, Cemex is committed to reducing CO2 emissions in its production processes, as well as the entire life cycle of its products.

Cemex is committed to net-zero CO2 emissions through its climate action program, Future in Action that sets out an aggressive decarbonization roadmap. To realize it’s decarbonization goals, Cemex estimates to annually invest ~US$150 M through Future in Action’s Innovation & Partnerships pillar.

Sustainability through open innovation

We are living in a decisive decade, in which the race to achieve critical climate action goals by 2030 is unfamiliar and arduous, and we are faced with never-before-seen challenges that will require new solutions to be overcome. We are only 6 years away from our 2030 goals, which is why we have our sights set on empowering startups and entrepreneurs in the Contech and Cleantech space and increasing our investment portfolio with trailblazing solutions to be applied to Cemex’s operations around the world.

As the corporate venture capital (CVC) and open innovation unit of Cemex, Cemex Ventures is committed to investing in, accelerating, through its exclusive accelerator program, Leaplab, and strategically partnering with the most innovative, sustainable, and promising startups to drive the construction industry revolution.

Since its inauguration in 2017, Cemex Ventures has experienced astounding success in innovation. Its current portfolio comprises 22 startups, including various unicorns.

After the 2030 benchmark, Cemex will launch a full-scale deployment of breakthrough technologies, which means the time to find new solutions that achieve Cemex’s sustainability, growth, and financial goals is now. There’s no time like the present.

We’re looking to invest in Cleantech startups!

How is CO2 captured?

Point-source capture can be applied to a broad spectrum of processes that emit CO2, including facilities that produce fossil fuels or other products such as hydrogen, cement, and steel. Point-source capture is carried out by equipping an industrial facility with carbon capture technology to prevent CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. CO2 emissions tend to be present at a higher concentration in industrial facilities that produce cement, iron and steel, than in fossil fuel-fired power plants or oil refineries, so point-source carbon capture can be considered a crucial technology to reach carbon neutrality in cement production.

Direct Air Capture (DAC) with storage is a Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) approach that extracts carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the atmosphere. Direct Ocean Capture (DOC) with storage is also a CDR approach that involves removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from ocean water or other natural waters.

Once carbon dioxide has been captured, either by point-source, direct air, or direct ocean capture, it must be transported to a site where it will either by transformed into a new product or service, making up part of the circular economy, or where it will be stored.

CO2 transportation by pipelines is the most common method of transporting CO2. In the United States alone, there are around 50 CO2 pipelines that transport approximately 68 Mt of CO2 per year. However, captured CO2 can also be transported by tanks and ships in its gaseous and liquid phases.

What is the best pathway once CO2 is captured – CCU or CCS?

CCU: CO2 utilization consists of converting captured carbon into to clean fuels, chemicals, or building products that can be used in the construction industry in lieu of finite raw materials. CO2 produced in industrial activities–such as steel and cement production–can be recycled and used as a raw material in a variety of processes that make up our built environments. Carbon utilization or conversion is an efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and develop valuable products that can help offset the cost of carbon capture.

CCS: CO2 storage consists of storing captured carbon dioxide, onshore or offshore. In onshore geological storage, CO2 is injected deep within sites beneath the surface of the earth. Likewise, offshore geological storage involved the injection of CO2 into storage complexes deep beneath the seafloor.

Startups innovating CCUS:

Cryo Pur: Cryo Pur designs, manufactures, markets and operates a range of equipment that integrates biogas purification by cryogenics and biomethane and bio-CO2 liquefaction. Cryo Pur technology is the result of 15 years of research and development work by Denis Clodic and his team at Mines ParisTech in the field of cryogenic CO2 capture. Technological innovation is at the heart of Cryo Pur’s project: protected by 8 worldwide patents, Cryo Pur’s technology provides practical answers to the challenges of the biogas industry and pushes back the limits of energy efficiency thanks to a state-of-the-art process.

ETFuels: ETFuels’ mission is to enable the decarbonization of heavy industry at scale by making commercially attractive green fuels available to customers. ETFuels is pioneering an off-grid green fuel production model, disrupting current approaches to decarbonization and unleashing the full potential of renewable energy at scale. Their off-grid model will decarbonize entire economies and supply chains, transforming how energy is produced and distributed, and ultimately how green fuels are created and consumed. This is how the startup will deliver net zero in a way which benefits everyone.

Promethean Particles: Promethean Particles is a UK-based, global pioneer, leading the industrial-scale manufacture of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and other specialty nanomaterials. The company is primarily focused on developing the use of MOFs to aid the energy transition and tackle climate change, in particular for carbon capture and storage (“CCS”) applications. When compared to existing technologies, MOF-based carbon capture has the potential to deliver significant advantages; increased energy-efficiency, lower process complexity, smaller operating footprint, and an improved EHS profile. Other applications for the company’s materials include water harvesting, gas separation and storage, and catalysis.

Queens Carbon: Queens Carbon is developing carbon-neutral, engineered supplementary cementitious materials (Q-SCMs) that can replace 20-50% of Portland cement while providing performance and cost benefits, and enable a 20-50% CO2 footprint reduction. Unlike other processes, Queens Carbon’s low temperature system can be fully electrified and does not require expensive CCUS retrofitting.

Sublime Systems: Sublime Systems is on a mission to have a swift, massive, and enduring impact on global CO2 emissions by decarbonizing cement. Sublime’s fully “true zero” approach avoids the industry’s legacy fossil-fueled kilns and limestone feedstock, which releases half its weight as COS. Its electrochemical process instead extracts calcium and silicates from an abundance of raw materials at ambient temperature to make ASTM C1157-compliant Sublime Cement™ as a drop-in replacement for ordinary portland cement in concrete.

Startups innovating Decarbonization Alternatives:

Aurora Hydrogen: Aurora Hydrogen is producing the world’s first high-efficiency clean hydrogen. The startup’s method of methane pyrolysis produces low-cost clean hydrogen at the point of use, eliminating the need for costly hydrogen transportation or CO2 storage. Aurora’s technology (fluidized bed reactors and industrial microwave generators) is industrially proven at scale, enabling cost-effective hydrogen production at low scale while providing a clear scale-up path to meet large industrial hydrogen demands.

KEW Technology: KEW Technology is a sustainable energy solutions company. Its advanced gasification solution, a form of Advanced Conversion Technology, provides an innovative approach to tackling climate change by efficiently converting various types of non-recyclable wastes and low-grade biomass into sustainable energy products. This includes products such as renewable and recycled carbon DME, hydrogen, heat, sustainable chemicals and advanced molecules such as rMethanol, rMethane and SAF. KEW sits at the heart of two parallel market (r)evolutions: the drive to zero carbon emissions and the shift to a zero-waste circular economy.

OPTIMITIVE: OPTIMITIVE has developed OPTIBAT, an AI technology and product that boosts efficiency and sustainability of Process Industries. They deliver closed-loop AI that optimizes in real-time the process autonomously, without human intervention, with improvements of up to 10% in energy and throughput, meaning 100’s of thousand $ value for their customers per year in many of their assets. They make it fast and easy to deploy in any process vertical by non-AI experts by means of a patented technology that they have tested in three continents.

Pyramp:The team at Pyramp, an Ireland-based startup, has developed a new thermophotovoltaic (TPV) system to generate electricity directly from irradiated industrial waste heat. TPV devices operate quite similarly to solar PV, except instead of using solar energy, heat is converted into electricity with a superior energy density output. TPV arrays are easily made modular with no moving parts, leading to a reliable operation and a reduced maintenance cost.

RedoxBlox: RedoxBlox is a fast-growing company dedicated to eco-friendly technologies for both present and future generations. It provides energy storage solutions that replace natural gas/fossil fuel combustion with electrification and thermochemical energy storage. Their commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles is evident by using sustainable materials, efficient resource management, and the reduction of carbon emissions. RedoxBlox has operations in the United States and Europe.

Startups innovating Circularity & Waste Management:

Akanthas: Akanthas is a pioneering and patented solution for monitoring and automated analysis of professional waste, enabling real-time and continuous optimization and anticipation of collection, sorting, and valorization operations. It combines artificial intelligence and optical sensors. Its solution enables the construction, industry, and waste management sectors to reduce the number of annual transportations by 15% and improve material quality and sorting by 20%, thus decreasing the landfilling and incineration of resources.

CRDC: CRDC Global creates appreciating value from the world’s used plastic, through an end-to-end solution that looks at the recovery of plastic through its end-use in construction projects. At the core of CRDC’s value proposition is a patented process to convert used plastic into RESIN8™. RESIN8 is a versatile, high-performing, low carbon hybrid mineral-polymer that can be used in a variety of structural and non-structural building applications.

Downstream: Downstream Marketplace’s goal is to book waste services and rent equipment from a local hauler, reseller, or disposal location.

FLEXOfibers™: Flexofibers is an R&D (research and development) and service company specializing in sustainable construction materials. They are pioneers in introducing the market’s first circular economy and low carbon footprint steel fibers derived from end-of-life tires, giving materials a second life. By utilizing these fibers for concrete reinforcement, they achieve a significant advancement in their journey towards sustainable solutions within the construction sector. Their mission is a testament to their dedication: to breathe new life into waste by transforming end-of-life tires into valuable second-life steel fibers.

ParaStruct: ParaStruct’s circular solutions make construction and manufacturing industries more sustainable and profitable, utilizing waste and residual materials. Fine-grained minerals and biogenic wastes make up a large part of global waste generation. They are unused resources that promote further mining and landfilling and threaten biodiversity. Using circular low-carbon binders and digital manufacturing, ParaStruct enables the transformation of unusable waste into functional, profitable, low emission construction materials and products that are fully circular through ParaStruct‘s proprietary recycling process, which additionally reduces economic and ecological costs.

Startups innovating Water Efficiency:

LAIIER: LAIIER is a smart building monitoring and preventative maintenance solution, with a first use case of water leak detection to reduce business downtime and claims costs. Customers subscribe to LAIIER’s full-stack solution, which includes unique sensor technology, connectivity and cloud services, providing a scale, precision, capability, and return on investment that competitors cannot match. LAIIER is already deployed with commercial insurance carriers, hospitality venues, facilities managers, and system integrators in the US and UK.

OceanWell: OceanWell has redesigned desalination to a clean, elegant solution for affordable, abundant, fresh water. OceanWell’s modular deep sea water farm technology harnesses hydrostatic ocean pressure to naturally power the reverse osmosis process and produce fresh water. They do this with vastly improved energy efficiency, without harming marine life, producing strong brine, or building an onshore plant.

SkyH20: SkyH2O supplies Renewable Water with Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG) that is NetZeroWater, and provides the ultimate in water sustainability, security, resiliency, and always in the most environmentally responsible way. The startup is a California innovation company with German engineering heritage that provides world-class industrial-grade water generating systems and projects.

Waterplan: Waterplan is the water sustainability platform to measure, respond, and report water risk, offering comprehensive water data, water expertise, and advanced technology to streamline operations and foster stakeholder alignment for impactful action. Waterplan is a startup in Cemex Ventures’ Leaplab 2023 startup accelerator program and are testing their solution in a 14-week pilot at Cemex’s South, Central America and Caribbean cement, ready-mix, and aggregate sites and Mexico cement plants.

Waterwhelm: Waterwhelm’s breakthrough water re-use and desalination technology operates at significantly lower pressures compared to reverse osmosis, resulting in lower capital and maintenance costs. Powered by waste heat, their circular solution achieves the lowest-ever rate of electricity consumption and CO2 emissions in the market. Waterwhelm offers the world’s LOWEST-EVER rate of electricity consumption and CO2 emissions for desalination & water re-use.

See Design & Architecture startups:

2050 Materials: 2050 Materials is leading the way in sustainable construction by offering an innovative solution that harnesses automated data collection and advanced Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) calculations. Their platform gathers comprehensive climate data on building materials, making it the go-to resource for architects, engineers, and construction professionals aiming to integrate sustainability into their projects.

Firstplanit: Firstplanit provides consultants, developers, contractors and manufacturers with insights and organizational level reports on the Environmental, Social, Health, and Monetary impacts of building materials and products through a holistic, transparent, data-driven, user-friendly digital platform. Behind Firstplanit is a group of built environment researchers, architects, engineers and tech experts whose mission is to incorporate sustainability into every building product decision in the construction industry.

Pathways: Pathways is a platform for manufacturers that simplifies the creation of product life cycle analyses. They’re like the environmental nutrition facts for materials. But instead of calories and carbs, they measure chemicals and carbon. Pathways is developing AI-enabled technologies that integrate across operations, ingesting supplier data and giving manufacturers insight into the environmental emissions impact. This enables product decarbonization through emission hot spots, material life-time trade-offs and creation of environmental product declarations (EPDs).

Preoptima: Preoptima is the world’s first early-stage decarbonization software provider that integrates real-time whole life carbon assessments (WLCAs) and seamless carbon optioneering into conceptual building design. Their flagship tool, Preoptima CONCEPT, has garnered the trust of industry giants and small firms alike for its ability to empower users to accurately perform conceptual design option appraisals and make critical carbon-informed decisions earlier, faster, and smarter.

Vizcab: They are the only 360° Building carbon platform: from carbon budgeting to carbon reporting, including regulatory accounting. Vizcab, by collecting data and developing interaction services between developers designers, and manufacturers, allows carbon benchmarking of buildings and materials, and soon, fast and affordable EPD generation, speed, compliance and reliability for LCA at all levels and building stages, guidance on net zero buildings, carbon performance reporting, lead generation and promotion of low carbon products.