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HECLOT, an Innovation for Circular Economy By Yo Hwang

ITRI and Taiwan Cement collaborated to build the world’s largest calcium looping pilot plant in 2013.

ITRI and Taiwan Cement collaborated to build the world’s largest calcium looping pilot plant in 2013.

Greta Thunburg, a 17-year-old Swedish environmental activist on climate change, has awakened us with her world-changing heartbreaking emotion-stirring speech at the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit in New York City on September 23, 2019. Her speech was sobering. My heart sank as I listened to it. How dare we? How dare we steal the future of our children’s generation with our selfish ways? How can we still talk about making money as our natural ecosystem is collapsing? How can we still believe in the “fairy tales of eternal economic growth”? How is it that Greta can see the truth while we are blinded by it? Have we lost all hope?

I’ve always taken pride in working at ITRI, which has a unique pool of talented engineers, researchers, specialists, inventors, entrepreneurs, and everything in between. We have played a vital role in changing Taiwan’s economy from a labor-intensive industry to a high-tech one. Industries are moving forward and now look to ITRI for our green technology and solutions for sustainability. Unfailingly, ITRI has developed different technologies to help achieve a circular or zero-waste economy, the key to sustainability. Amongst them, I think HECLOT (High Efficiency Calcium Looping Technology) is its most significant technological innovation. And I truly believe Greta would agree.

HECLOT was licensed to Taiwan Cement in 2013 to build the world’s largest calcium looping pilot plant, where up to 1 ton of carbon could be captured per hour. The process was expected to achieve a carbon capture cost of less than $30 per ton of CO2, which is very cost-competitive when compared to other existing carbon capture technologies. In 2014, ITRI received an R&D 100 Award for this technology breakthrough in the Environmental Technologies category.

Not only does the technology reduce CO2 emission to near zero, the heat generated in the process can also be recovered and reused. The CaO (calcium oxide) used to capture CO2 can be reused repeatedly. Further, it can be used as raw material for cement process when it loses its activity during the capture process. Most importantly, the captured CO2 is prevented from being released into the atmosphere, mitigating the contribution to global warming and ocean acidification. What’s more, it can be monetized in value-added products.

Six years have passed since the launch of HECLOT. If Greta knew about this technology and how it could potentially drastically reduce global carbon emission, I am sure she would advocate the adoption of this technology in every heavy industry. But what about us? What can we do as responsible human beings to change our ways NOW?

We may not be able to give back Greta’s childhood, but perhaps we can still give back her dreams of a better future.

About the Author

Yo Hwang

Yo Hwang was born and raised in Bangkok’s expat community. With background in Visual Communication Design, she went on to complete her Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications in Australia. Yo joined ITRI in 2017 as an associate administrator and is now working on startup ecosystem development programs.