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Decreasing amount of CO2 at the production of Cement

Climate change, CO2 emission

An atlas of pollution: the world in carbon dioxide emissions

Worldwide, the cement sector has been very active in reducing its emissions from cement production.

On three levels:

  1. energy efficiency
  2. alternative (bio)fuels
  3. clinker substitution

Through the combination of these efforts, the emissions per ton of cement have been reduced by 16% from the 1990 levels of 750 kg CO2/ ton of cement. Good news for CO2 emissions, the greenhouse gas and climate change.

What is happening to deploy CO2 capture in cement production?

From the three most advanced capture technologies there are at least two that should be suitable to the cement sector. These are:

  1. post combustion capture
  2. oxyfuel combustion

Pre combustion is not suitable because it is unable to capture the emissions from the conversion of limestone to lime, the key component of cement.

Conclusions out of studies to decrease the CO2 are:

  • Post combustion capture can be readily fitted to a cement plant
    Although there are some challenges related to managing the dust and SOx emissions from the process and meeting the additional heat requirements for the solvent process. This will require an auxiliary boiler and increase the capital and operational costs.
  • Oxyfuel may be beneficial for the cement sector
    This would require a more substantial change to the cement plant compared to post combustion capture. Applying oxyfuel will require more research and development as many of the fundamentals of applying oxyfuel to a cement plant need to be better understood.

Pilots

The next stage of development is to proceed to pilot scale. There are four key activities around the world that are contributing to this.

The pilot will have a dedicated focus on oxyfuel technology and consists of four work packages:

  1. Further optimization/ detailing of a 3,000 tpd cement plant
  2. Concept study for a pilot plant
  3. Pre-engineering study
  4. CO2 balance and economic sensitivity analyses

Norcem (Norway) is commencing a pilot project at their Brevik cement works, experimenting with oxyfuels.

The Industrial Technology Research Institute (Taiwan) and Taiwan Cement are working together on a calcium looping capture project. They have an operational 1 ton per hour pilot scale facilityat the Hualien cement plant in Eastern Taiwan.

Skyonic has an operational pilot facility cement mill in the US. They  focus on the re-use of CO2 to create sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

These projects are early stage pilot projects applied to cement plants. They are generally at a TRL of 5 to 6. While these are important steps to deploy capture in the cement sector, more focussed effort is required to achieve the 13 Mt of CO2 capture by 2020.

Alternative cements

Alternative cements are also being developed based on renewables and recycled materials claim to be able to produce lower CO2 emissions.

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