HOLYOKE — The city of Holyoke’s new partner Sublime Systems, a company commercializing a breakthrough process in making zero-carbon cement was given an $87 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy on March 25.

This investment is intended to accelerate the development of commercial-scale, true-zero cement manufacturing technology at Sublime’s first commercial manufacturing plant in Holyoke, while also expanding economic opportunity in the community.

Sublime’s first commercial electrochemical cement manufacturing project was selected as one of 33 projects across more than 20 states to receive up to a total of $6 billion to demonstrate commercial-scale decarbonization solutions needed to move energy-intensive industries toward net-zero. The investments also look to strengthen local economies, create and maintain high-quality jobs and eliminate harmful emissions that jeopardize public health.

“Access to sufficient capital for industrial-scale demonstrations is the single biggest obstacle preventing breakthrough innovations from reaching the scale humanity needs to combat the climate crisis,” said Sublime Systems CEO and co-founder Dr. Leah Ellis. “The Department of Energy has cleared this obstacle through funding from [Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations’] Industrial Demonstrations Program, embracing its unique role in supporting the deployment of the decarbonized technologies of tomorrow. We look forward to collaborating with them on funding our first commercial manufacturing scale-up, which will ship our clean cement while creating meaningful economic opportunities for the surrounding community.”

Office of Clean Energy Demonstration applicants were required by the Department of Energy to submit community benefits plans in which they must show that they will engage communities and labor, create quality jobs and prioritize economic and environmental justice for disadvantaged groups. Sublime was guided to Holyoke through screening tools created by Justice 40, an initiative that directs 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to flow to disadvantaged communities.

“Thanks to the dynamic interplay between federal, state and local policy, we are ushering in a new era where economic opportunity and fighting climate change go hand in hand – both in our community and so many similar former industrial hubs throughout the United States,” said Mayor Joshua Garcia on the announcement.

Sublime was founded and cultivated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and its founders were able to develop a fossil-fuel-free, low-carbon cement. The Holyoke Sublime plant will eventually produce tens of thousands of tons per year of its low-carbon cement, manufactured without fossil fuels or decomposing limestone, the two major emissions sources of traditional, high-polluting cement manufacturing.

Director of Planning and Economic Development Aaron Vega told Reminder Publishing this is only the beginning of what the city wants to accomplish in growing its green industries.

“The grant is fantastic news. This is exactly the kind of projects that the federal government wants to see and the kind of projects we want to see here in Holyoke,” Vega said. “We talk about green industries, but it’s also about carbon reduction, and that’s really what we want to be focusing on as we think about recycling, as we think about reusing materials, as we think about ways to better make the materials we use, like concrete.”

Vega said the city will continue to focus on these kinds of industries and with this news in the public eye, he has already seen more interest tick up for potential future projects.

“It really ties in with our ability as a city to provide green energy, affordable green energy from Holyoke Gas & Electric that continues to be really the asset that these companies are looking for because they use a lot of energy, so they want to have low energy so of course if it’s green, and they’re making a green product so it’s a win-win,” Vega said. “That combined with our ability to provide water and water treatments to our sewer facilities is also key. We have a lot of capacity both in our energy and in our water supply. This is exactly the kind of companies we want to be trying to get into Holyoke.”

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