PRODUCTION PROCESS — Evan Bush, left, and Andrea Ambrosini explore using concentrating solar power-generated heat to produce ammonia. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

Industrial Decarbonization

Sandia develops and de-risks technologies to decarbonize heat- and energy-intensive industrial processes.

The industrial sector represents 30% of all energy-related CO2 emissions and is recognized as one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize. Sandia combines expertise in basic sciences such as materials science and scientific computing, with unique component and systems design, testing, and validation capabilities.

Researchers within our industrial decarbonization program advance technologies that enable the use of direct solar-thermal energy, high-temperature thermal storage, and low-carbon fuels to decarbonize carbon-intensive industrial processes. We combine expertise in materials synthesis and characterization, solar thermochemistry, high-fidelity physics modeling, systems engineering, and techno-economic analysis. With Sandia’s one-of-a-kind capabilities, we can conduct testing up to demonstration scale and validate processes and components in their representative environments.

Areas of Focus

Cement & Concrete

Researching, testing, and demonstrating pathways to decarbonize cement production.


Targeting building-block chemicals (e.g., ammonia, ethylene, C1-4), hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuels, raw materials processing, and other high-temperature chemical synthetic processes.

Iron & Steel

Developing and expanding the underlying science to decarbonize metallurgical processes using renewable fuels and chemicals.

System Integration

Developing, adapting, and integrating critical industrial components for broad use and application.

Select R&D Capabilities

Carbon capture, use, and storage capabilities at Sandia can be integrated and applied to industrial settings to reduce emissions, increase efficiency, and offset costs:

  • New materials and process development for CO2 capture as well as thermochemical and electrochemical CO2 conversion
  • Expertise in geologic science and storage technologies stemming from more than 50 years of experience in repository science
  • Proficiency that spans topics such as biological carbon sequestration and microalgal biomanufacturing

Multidisciplinary research at Sandia advances sustainable and affordable chemical processes and low-carbon fuels and feedstocks:

  • Hydrogen technologies, including carbon-free hydrogen production, combustion, materials compatibility, and component co-development
  • Solar thermochemistry, including ammonia, solar CO/H2, water splitting as well as thermochemical energy storage.
  • Hydrocarbon synthesis (e.g. methane, ethane, ethylene) using no- and low-carbon industrial heating
  • Biofuels and bioenergy

Cutting-edge resources and researchers at Sandia can help companies explore and enable state-of-the-art power generation and thermal systems design, thermal, thermochemical, and electrical energy storage, high- and low-temperature process heat storage and utilization, thermochemistry, and solar fuels production:

  • Large-scale demonstration and testing capabilities, such as the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF), which provides experimental facilities, equipment, and personnel for testing, validating, and improving new concentrating solar thermal components and systems.
  • Renewable energy technologies research and the development of concentrating solar process heat for higher temperature applications used to produce cement, steel, and in high-value chemical production
  • Advanced thermal materials (e.g., refractory high entropy refractory alloys and additively manufactured composites) development and characterization
  • High-performance computing for detailed computational fluid dynamics modeling, discrete element modeling, and large system optimization
  • Heat capture, transfer, and conveyance capabilities with megawatt scale high-temperature/high-pressure heat exchanger test facilities
  • Long-duration thermal energy storage research and development with testing and demonstration up to multi-megawatt scale

Coordinated research across Sandia facilitates the advancement of key technologies for clean, on-site energy integration and industrial electrification:

Assembled capabilities at Sandia support companies to engineer better systems and integrated processes:

  • Design and analysis tools (e.g., high-fidelity modeling, technical design and feasibility), such as those developed for IDAES
  • Data modeling and analysis to improve the resilience and sustainability of energy and water supplies
  • Control system design, verification, and validation testing
  • Technoeconomic and life cycle analyses to evaluate cost-effective, environmentally-conscious strategies to reduce carbon emissions
  • Industrial component design, testing, and validation
  • Establishing the scientific basis for policy and standards to safely and effectively integrate decarbonizing technologies into industrial processes
  • Numerical analysis with uncertainty quantification and optimization


Margaret Gordon

Grace McNealy