Food for Thought Award

Cement Edition

Climate protection has become one of the most important areas for action in sustainable development of cement and food industries over recent years. The German cement industry has always made efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, increase energy efficiency and conserve natural resources. There has been almost a double decrease in CO2 emissions per unit of cement production since the end of previous century due to the increased energy use from alternative sources and reduction of emissions in technological processes. Food industry, at the same time, is seeking to reduce its reliance on raw materials from natural ecosystems. That’s why a lot of efforts are devoted to a more efficient food production and search for alternative sources of carbon for food.

Circular economy is a well-known concept and theoretical framework promoting reuse and recycling of wastes. In practice such an approach is comlicated by many technical challenges, and often results in rebound effects. The avoidance of unexpected consequences is often foreseen in upcycling concepts, when wastes of one industry are becoming a structural material for new materials or products with better quality or better environmental value.

The HeidelbergCement Group has set itself “Sustainability Commitments 2030” aiming, amongst others, for continuous reduction of carbon footprint and increased use of alternative resources as substitutes to raw materials. That’s why HeidelbergCement is searching for innovative solutions for interconnections between industries to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

This Challenge provides contribution to the following Sustainable Development Goals:


Industry, innovation and infrastructure

SDG 11

Sustainable cities and communities

SDG 12

Responsible consumption and production

SDG 13

Climate action

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires a written proposal to be submitted with further pitch presentation. To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their exclusive IP rights to the Seeker. Instead, Solvers will grant to the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions.

Specification on challenge tasks

CO2 from many industries can be transformed into biomass/proteins, but often at a considerable cost (energy use, infrastructure costs etc.). Propose sustainable solutions and justify them with “hard” LCA data for the utilization of CO2 emissions from cement industry to produce biomass/proteins. Demonstrate efficiency of biomass production comparing to conventional methods and potential for CO2 emissions reduction. Solutions should demonstrate a win-win model.

In hot summers (like the one in 2018) European food grade CO2 production is not able to cover the demand of food and beverage industry. On the other hand, there are industries (like cement production) which are the constant generators of CO2, but such carbon dioxide gas is hard to extract and purify (mix with other gases and dust). Cement industry could potentially cover the demand for CO2 by supplying a food grade gas. Propose a sustainable solution for food grade CO2 extraction (purification) from cement kilns (justify with means of LCA).

Challenge rules

  • Eligible are students, PhD students, post-docs (5 years after completion of PhD), young professionals (till 35 years). Team applications are accepted.
  • Description of a solution (optional video pitch) with the package of administrative documents should be submitted by the deadline 01.07.2020.
  • Review process will last 2 months, and the finalists will be informed on the outcomes 13.08.2020. Selected proposals (up to 8) of finalists will get a consulting, mentoring support for the pitch presentation preparation and will be able to present their ideas in front of the challenge jury during the LCAFood2020 Conference in Berlin.
  • The winner(s) will get a spot for the inspirational speech during the award and closing ceremony of LCAFood2020 on 16.10.2020 and will be a subject for an e-zine campaign after the competition.

Assessment criteria

  • Novelty
  • Creativity
  • Application of circular economy principles
  • Industrial applicability
  • LCA appropriateness

Winning packages

  • 3 000.- Euro
  • 2 000.- Euro
  • 1 000.- Euro
All winners will be honored with certificates and trophies, announced publicly and highlighted on the web-site and conference materials, as well as on mass media.


Please answer all questions within the word limit defined.

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