The cement industry has been constantly innovating with new technologies to cut down on CO2 emissions. We take a look at the latest developments.
In the third week of April 2016, the LEILAC (Low Emissions Intensity Lime and Cement) consortium secured Gé¼12 million in funding over five years from the European Commission Horizon 2020 Grant programme. The consortium is led by technology provider Calix and joined by HeidelbergCement, Cemex, Tarmac, Lhoist, Amec Foster Wheeler, ECN, Imperial College, PSE, Quantis and the Carbon Trust. Its aim is to apply and demonstrate a breakthrough technology that will enable Europe´s cement and lime industries to reduce their carbon footprint significantly. The consortium will also contribute a further Gé¼9 million towards the project.
Calix, an Australian specialty minerals processing technology company, has undertaken the challenge to develop Direct Separation of CO2 and scale it up. It already has a 30kTpa reactor running successfully in Australia on a variety of mineral feed-stocks. The technology is proving highly promising for a wide variety of other energy and industrial applications, Calix says.
The cement industry accounts for up to 5 per cent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions; around 60 per cent of CO2 emissions are released directly during the processing of the raw materials. Cost-effective carbon capture technologies are needed on a large scale, to help reach the EUG´s 80 per cent emissions reductions target by 2050.
The LEILAC project aims to help the European Industry achieve these targets effectively and economically, once successful. As stated in Dr. Chatterjee´s article and the specific reference to levels of CO2 generation, if one were to project the business-as-usual scenario up to 2050, it is estimated that the levels of CO2 emissions would correspond to a 60C rise in the average global temperature which is quite alarming.
How the LEILAC project works
The system design is unique, as the furnace exhaust gases are not in direct contact with the limestone. In this indirectly heated reactor, the energy from the heating gases is transferred to the limestone via a special steel vessel. The CO2 released from the process is separated almost in the pure form. The technology is complementary with other carbon capture methods already developed in the power and lime sector, such as oxyfuel, and can also make use of alternative fuels. During the first three years, the LEILAC project will focus on finalising the design of the demonstration plant, to be constructed at the HeidelbergCement plant in Lixhe (Belgium) once the necessary permits have been secured. The high temperature Direct Separation Calciner pilot unit will then undergo two years of extensive testing under standard operating conditions, at a feed rate capacity of 240 tonnes per day of cement raw meal and 200 tonnes ground of limestone, over a continuous basis, for several weeks.
Use of bio-engineering
HeidelbergCement is also developing technology that takes carbon dioxide from a cement smoke stack flue gas, using bio-engineering to convert it to low carbon fuel for transportation. The company has entered into a joint venture with Joule Unlimited, a technology developer, to figure out how to scale the process to commercially.
´For the whole industry, it is key to develop initiatives with technology providers to work on transitioning us into a low carbon industry and Joule is clearly one of the companies that has a technology to significantly contribute to our target,´ said Jan Theulen, HeidelbergCement´s director of alternative resources. He sees commercialisation ´within the horizon of 3 to 5 years.´
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, global carbon dioxide emissions from cement production were approximately 829 million metric tonnes in 2001, or about 3.4 per cent of all global emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production. With the rapid growth of economies in China and India since then, this figure is almost touching 5 per cent.
Twenty-five major producers have formed the Cement Sustainability Initiative under the umbrella of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to work on many facets of sustainability initiative with the aim to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent, by 2050.
LafargeHolcim, the world´s largest cement maker, has an internal target of year 2030 to cut CO2 emissions per tonne of cement produced by 40 per cent below 1990 levels. ´At the time of the merger, the combined company had achieved an estimated 26 per cent reduction measured against the 1990 baseline´ said an internal communication of the company. ´We are well aware that, due to the nature of our business, our new organisation is one of the largest CO2-emitting corporations in the world.´
The information produced here is sourced from the website of respective companies.