The cement rotary kiln [perhaps] is one of the cost effective options available to burn waste. It helps the industry and also the society at large.The success lies in the right policy framework.
The history of alternate fuels and raw materials (AFR) is not very old in India. AFR has been the most talked about subject since the entry of multinational cement players in the country and when the crude oil price were at its peak. It is necessary to appreciate the background. When the price of crude oil was rocket high, industry was compelled to look for cheaper alternatives. The cement companies in Europe-mainly Holcim and Lafarge-had begun the use of waste materials long ago and the same was kicked off once they made an entry in our country.
In allowing the industry to use waste as a fuel, as stated by Ashwani Pahuja, Director General, National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCB) and Milind Murumkar of Bharathi Cement, there is a significant change in the approach of regulators. Today both the entities at state and central level are well equipped with data on available waste and are ready to share.
Pahuja says ¨Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat Mission, etc. are an indirect support to make use of waste.¨ He added, ¨NCB has been playing a catalytic role in the change. It has tested a variety of materials for use in the kiln and has a very dependable data on variety materials. It has a competent team to support the execution.¨
Murumkar informs that ´Finger Printing´ of waste is extremely important for its use as a fuel. Incidentally Bharathi Cement has achieved one of the highest numbers of Total Substitution Rate (TSR) in use of alternate fuels. TSR indicates the number in percentage for replacement of conventional fuel. While on ´Finger Printing´, it gives you the quantum of variation in the waste material. The challenge is understanding the extent of variation and have an answer for that. The investments to be incurred by cement producers-for use of AFR are laboratory, storage/transportation of waste to kiln and on safety-are quite high and have to become commercially viable. If you take example of using RDF (refused derived fuel, from municipal waste), it will require a chlorine bypass and if RDF is not regularly available, then why should a plant invest in chlorine bypass. The experiments with use of municipal waste have not been very successful because there is no long term guarantee of receiving the waste. The decisions at municipal level are politically motivated.
Industry will have to take the use of low-grade limestone more seriously. Pahuja says, ¨NCB has very useful information and has the necessary capability to show how even low-grade limestone can be used in cement manufacturing. The potential of NCB has not yet been tested on this subject.¨
Today a serious challenge to AFR is ´Pet Coke´. Particularly after the crude oil price went down during mid 2014, the price of pet coke became very attractive, and in the existing plants, it is relatively easy to use pet coke than to invest on AFR.
In short, using AFR in cement kiln is not easy but not too difficult also. Given the situation today, when the Ministry is quite progressive, no more landfill is allowed in the city areas, awareness in public and among government departments is high, then there will be less hurdles to use AFR.