Carnegie Mellon University

Photo of Heidelberg Germany landscape

June 19, 2023

CMU Researchers and Collaborators Kick Off INDABA Partnership on Decarbonizing Industry

By Cody Januszko

Kristen Whitlinger

Valerie Karplus and Paulina Jaramillo, Scott Institute Energy Fellows, and Chris Pistorius and Edson Severnini, Scott Institute Faculty Affiliates, joined international collaborators in Heidelberg, Germany, in early May to kick off a research partnership focused on industrial decarbonization. 

Awarded a  $1.5 million National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education grant, Karplus and her team established the Industrial Decarbonization Analysis, Benchmarking and Action (INDABA) partnership in January of 2023. International collaborators include researchers from the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Tsinghua University (China), and University of Mannheim and the Technical University of Dortmund (Germany), along with industry leaders from the United States and Europe.

The term INDABA, the name of the partnership, comes from the Zulu and Xhosa languages of South Africa. It refers to a discussion about an important matter that takes place between different communities. In the spirit of the term, the researchers aim to work with a diverse group of collaborators and partners across the globe to achieve industrial decarbonization.

From May 3-5, 2023, members of the INDABA partnership met in Heidelberg, Germany, for their inaugural symposium, which focused on approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from iron- and steelmaking processes. A major focus was on examining decarbonization pathways involving direct reduced iron, or DRI. Participants shared their prior research on the technology, infrastructure, policy, and community and workforce impacts and proposed new research topics for the group to work on in the coming years. 

“Prior to the start of the partnership, the academic collaborators and industry partners had been working in parallel towards the shared goal of finding viable decarbonization pathways,” said Karplus. “The meeting was filled with ‘aha!’ moments as we explored common interests and new research opportunities.”

One goal of the project is to characterize greenhouse gas emissions from steelmaking facilities globally and consider the role of potential decarbonization pathways in different world regions.  Researchers will also examine and compare the potential regional impacts, including the implications for workforces and communities, of decarbonization investments in different parts of the world.

The partnership will also prepare a new generation to tackle the industrial decarbonization challenge. CMU students and faculty mentors will be able to spend up to three months working abroad alongside the international collaborators in the INDABA partnership. CMU students will have the opportunity to learn about GHG reduction pathways for the steel industry in project-based learning courses, in which they work with industrial partners to explore the commercial viability of low carbon pathways. CMU participants in the INDABA partnership will develop and pilot a decarbonization simulation game with high school students in the Pittsburgh region. The INDABA team will also provide a platform for cross-sectoral engagement and knowledge-sharing across a range of industries and organizations.

Out of the symposium came plans to more closely connect existing research projects, engage in faculty and student exchange, and work together on outreach activities, in line with the partnership’s mission of developing a common knowledge foundation to accelerate industrial decarbonization through international collaborative research and multi-sector, multi-stakeholder partnerships.

In February, we shared an article about INDABA, a partnership that aims to decarbonize industry. Read here