Masdar City-based Seramic Materials, a start-up company supported by accelerator The Catalyst, has developed a unique patented solution to recycle industrial solid waste into a high-temperature thermal energy storage (TES) product – a circular economy solution that both reduces wastage and promotes renewable energy development.
The innovative new product called, ReThink Seramic – Flora, has been developed by Seramic Materials at its base in Masdar City. The Flora is a technical ceramic that can store heat at temperatures up to 1250°C. This allows the storage of thermal energy from process heat in concentrated solar power (CSP) or industrial waste heat recovery systems, or from electricity in renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaic, wind, or even excess grid electricity. Made completely from recycled materials, in a 100 percent carbon-offset process, ReThink Seramic – Flora offers a sustainable solution at a considerably lower price point than other commercially available TES materials.
Abdulla Balalaa, Executive Director, Masdar City, said, “This ground-breaking product from Seramic Materials was developed at their base in Masdar City a testament to being Abu Dhabi’s only planned and approved research and development (R&D) cluster. Thermal energy storage is a technology with enormous potential, helping to overcome the intermittency challenges of renewable energy and mitigating climate change. Part of our work at Masdar City, is helping start-ups like Seramic Materials to test new technologies, explore opportunities and build their networks, hence, helping to amplify their efforts and deliver a more sustainable future.
“The development of innovations like ReThink Seramic – Flora, further enhances the City’s status as the key regional hub for the development of transformative technologies. Seramic Materials has also been ranked fourth in a global list of recycling start-ups, the only company from the Arab world to be recognized, so we are very proud to have them as part of our dynamic community.”
Dr. Nicolas Calvet, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Seramic Materials, said, “By replacing an expensive raw material by a waste locally generated, we are significantly cutting the cost of our ceramic products” said. Flora is a game changer in high-temperature applications over 600°C as up to now the bottle neck was the high cost of the ceramic material itself.”
The TES market is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years, as it offers a solution to issues arising from the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. The TES market could triple in size by 2030, with investment in TES applications for cooling and power set to reach as much as US$28 billion, helping to fulfil long-term climate and sustainability goals, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Seramic Materials has also announced its first commercial client, with StorEnergy DOO taking delivery of 24 tons of the Flora solution at the Plataforma Solar de Almeria (PSA) in the south of Spain for a demonstrator project. In this demonstrator, Flora will be thermally cycled up to 800°C. In the future, StorEnergy plans to reach higher temperatures as Flora can withstand temperatures over 1000°C.
By operating at a higher temperature, the heat-to-electricity conversion efficiency is improved in power generation systems. In addition, high-temperature process heat can be delivered on demand to industry, such as cement or glass, to replace or save fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions. Flora is also durable, being a refractory ceramic that can be thermally cycled over decades without damage.
Seramic Materials is supported by The Catalyst, the region’s first clean technology start-up accelerator, which granted it US$150,000 last year, and provides training and mentorship. With the support of The Catalyst, Seramic Materials has established the first laboratory in the GCC dedicated to industrial solid waste valorization, located in the Masdar Tech Park in Masdar City.
Masdar City, is now home to more than 900 companies, ranging from multinationals and SMEs, to homegrown start-ups. These companies include the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the UAE Space Agency, Siemens, Tabreed, Honeywell, and the world's first university dedicated to artificial intelligence, the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI). Masdar City is also home to leading HealthTech company, G42 Healthcare (G42), which is known for establishing the Omics Center of Excellence, the region’s largest and most advanced Omics facility in terms of technology coverage, automation, computational capacity and throughput.