- Milind Murumkar, Advisor AFR, Vicat India
What are the main AFR materials being used by cement plants in India?
The initial trend in cement industries started with utilisation of easy to use alternative fuels (AF) materials like biomass, segregated non-recyclable plastic waste, etc. Presently, we can say that the cement plants in India can co-process different types of waste like industrial wastes (hazardous and non-hazardous), tyre derived waste, plastics-derived waste, derived waste from municipal solid waste (MSW) segregation process, animal waste, waste from windmill sources, etc. Many of the matured cement plants with proper knowledge of this technology also offer cradle to grave solution for different industrial sectors like pharmaceutical, FMCG and tyre, food and beverage, wind mill sectors and municipal corporations for segregated MSW, etc.
What are the challenges companies are facing in sourcing AFR materials and what are the strategies they follow?
Cement plant having this high temperature profile system can practically co-process all types of wastes, without having any impact on product quality and environment. Focus and care is needed to be exercised by the cement plants in selection of wastes, selection of equipment and selection and deployment of trained people for co-processing of any type of waste. Unless the cement plant understands its raw material characteristics, the fuel characteristics, the waste characteristics and the knowledge to make a proper recipe, the usage of AFR materials at higher volumes becomes difficult.
The challenges during utilisation of hazardous waste are much more difficult as it is very much necessary to have a proper input from waste generators about the waste characteristics and a proper Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to understand the precautions needed during transportation storage handling and usage of different wastes. Manpower is also required to be properly trained for handling of these wastes in the plant and provided with required personal protection equipment. Proper displays of various hazards need to be displayed in local language at the work site. Once the waste quality and its hazards are known to the operating persons, the safety aspect gets addressed well.
Waste generators need total solution for their different wastes generated and the success in utilisation of different types of waste in cement plant lies in having co-processing ability for providing total solution to the generating industry. Business success depends on having a good win-win model between the cement plant and the waste generating industry.
It is better to have a proper market data mapping and have long term agreements with the waste generators for building trust and confidence in them.
To what extent Indian cement companies are exploiting AFR compared to global benchmarks?
As indicated in the CII approach paper, India plans to achieve 25 per cent TSR by 2025. In comparison to global standards we are far behind as in many countries the substitution is in the range of 60-100 per cent. The main differentiator is waste characteristics and the lack of support by the required agencies for generating a good segregated quality waste. This long term plan of achieving 25 per cent substitution rate from the present national level of 4 per cent is as a big challenge.
In terms of earnings, how beneficial is this for a cement company?
There is no second opinion on the benefits that accrue to a cement plant when they utilise higher quantities of AFR materials in their cement kilns. The direct benefits are reduction in fuel costs and raw material additive costs. Presently, the Rs/Thermi cost in a cement plant that uses coal/ pet coke is to the tune of around 1.20 to 1.40, where as if proper blended waste is utilised the Rs/Thermi of the quantity that is used as substitute to coal is at around Rs 0.5-0.60/Thermi. In case the cement plant is in a position to give a proper solution to the waste generating industries the waste generator also pays a ‘gate fees’ that adds to the cement plants bottom line.
In addition to these direct cash benefits, indirect benefits like reduction in use of fossil fuels, reduction in mined materials and improved life of mines will also acrue. However, the operating strategy at the plant and the commitment and will of top management to this concept of co-processing is necessary for improved utilisation of these untapped resources.
What are the factors one has to look into while selection of AFR materials, including technology?
One should initially understand the cement plants’ infrastructure, plant capacity, process capability, available plant machineries and equipment, storage and blending facilities in the plant, quality check mechanism and facilities, and knowledge of their technical personnel. As regards AF materials it is important to know the feed points in the kiln system, the storage facilities especially for the hazardous materials in the plant with proper leachate collection mechanism, fire protection mechanisms, handling and dosage systems available etc. It is suggested that the existing technical teams visit a matured cement plant having these types of infrastructure to understand the requirements.
- BS Srinivasalu Reddy