Milind Murumkar Advisor – AFR, Vicat India Group
Since its inception, Vicat’s focus has been on utilisation of alternative fuels and raw materials (AFR) in its cement plants. Started with a thermal substitution rate (TSR) of around 5 per cent in 2012, Milind Murumkar, Advisor – AFR, Vicat India Group, says that the company has reached to a level of 20 per cent in the last five years.
What are the long-term plans for improving energy efficiency in your plants?
Our long-term plan is to have a TSR of close to 25 per cent by 2020, with more focus on industrial waste supplies and utilisation in the plants.
How do you define the extent of AFR use in the cement industry? By this yardstick, where do you stand as a company and what are your targets for 2020?
In 2010, the TSR in Indian cement industry was only one per cent. But presently, almost all the cement manufacturers are gearing up for utilisation of higher quantities of waste in their plants, and today, it is around four per cent. The cement industry in totality has a plan towards achieving a target of 25 per cent TSR by 2025. We at Vicat, in India, are presently at 20 per cent and are targeting to achieve 25 per cent by 2020, with more focus on industrial waste management.
What goals can India achieve by 2025, and how do you compare it with global initiatives?
As indicated above and in the CII approach paper, India can achieve 25 per cent TSR by 2025. But in comparison to global standards, we are still far behind. In many countries, the TSR is around 60 to 100 per cent. The main differentiators are waste characteristics and lack of support by the required agency for generating a good segregated quality waste. This long-term plan of achieving 25 per cent substitution rate is as it is very challenging.
Do you think that India can adopt the principle of “polluter pays first”, especially when it comes to waste generation?
Yes. I think that this newly-emerging concept is making giant strides in India. Many of the waste generating industries understand the concept of zero landfilling and are fully supportive towards “polluter pays first” model of waste disposal. If the cement plant is in a position to manage the generated waste in a sustainable and environmental-friendly manner, the waste generators are ready to pay. This concept can only sustain if it is a ‘win-win’ model to both the parties.
What are the hazardous materials that can be burnt as AFR in a cement kiln?
A cement plant having 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 by cement plants in selection of wastes and equipment, and deploying trained people for co-processing any type of waste. As you know, cement plants spend huge funds on capex for creating proper blending and processing of coal and raw material in the form of stacker reclaimer, blending and storage silos, etc.
Similarly to achieve a higher TSR rate, it is advisable to have a proper preprocessing facility for blending different types of waste and prepare a recipe that is compatible to raw material and fuel used in the plants.
A cement plant can certainly help the community around its plant to source agricultural waste, sorted municipal solid waste (MSW), etc., which can help creation of employment and earn goodwill of the community. The acceptance by the community is an important aspect for its success. Cement plants can certainly support the community around their plants by forming small groups for agricultural waste collection, MSW collection sorting, shredding and supply to the plant in such a way that this low-cost model should help cement plants in gaining community acceptance and boost CSR initiatives.
In terms of earnings, how beneficial is this for the company as a whole and for the manufactures in general?
It is certainly beneficial in terms of earnings for the company. If managed properly, to have a blend of commodities and industrial waste in terms of TSR and thermi cost reduction, the benefits will be substantial. Unless AFR co-processing has a good economic viability, its long-term sustenance cannot be ascertained. The entire economic model needs to be such that the Rs/thermi is lower than that of fossil fuels.
What are the challenges in terms of safety?
The challenges during utilisation of hazardous waste are enormous as it is necessary to have a proper input from waste generators about the waste characteristics, and have a proper material safety data sheet (MSDS) to understand the precautions needed during transportation and usage of different wastes.
Manpower needs to be trained properly for handling these wastes and they need to be provided with required personal protection equipment, etc. Various hazards should be properly displayed in local language at the work site. Once the waste quality and its hazards are known to the operating person, the safety aspect gets addressed well.
In developed countries, there are various legislations that helps to reach high levels of TSR like 60 to 80 per cent. What is the Indian scenario?
Our legislation is quite well defined and is in line to the developed countries. A lot of work has gone in this field. Regular upgradation in the policy framework and user-friendly rules and guidelines are made available by the Ministry of Environment and Central as well as State Pollution Boards.
The time taken to get the approval from the respective authorities for use of AFR is too long. How will the implementation of online monitoring systems help?
Contrary to the earlier days, now the approval process is quite fast and adequate authorities have been given to the State and local pollution board authorities for addressing the issues and grant timely approvals. Due to this, the time lag gets drastically reduced and the process gets simplified for granting the permit.