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New funding to help cut carbon from cement

Heidelberg Cements plant in Lixhe, Belgium

A massive consortium has secured €12M (£9.4M) of EU funding to demonstrate technology to reduce carbon emissions from cement and lime industries.

The Leilac consortium – led by technology provider Calix, and comprising Heidelberg Cement, Cemex, Tarmac, Lhoist, Amec Foster Wheeler, ECN, Imperial College, PSE, Quantis and the Carbon Trust – said that it was aiming to apply and demonstrate a breakthrough technology that would enable Europe’s cement and lime industries to reduce their carbon footprint significantly.

The consortium will also contribute a further £7.1M towards the project.

Leilac said that the cement and lime sectors directly employ more than 388,000 people in Europe, making an important economic contribution to the region. However, it said that the cement industry alone accounted for up to 5% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, while the lime sector had the highest CO2 intensity relative to turnover.

The consortium stated that over the years both the cement and lime industries had made continuous efforts to improve their environmental performance and had successfully reduced CO2 emissions from the production process.

However, it said that as around 60% of CO2 emissions were released directly and unavoidably from the processing of the raw materials, cost effective carbon capture technologies were needed on a large scale, to help reach the EU’s 80% emissions reductions target by 2050.

Leilac said that it was aiming to help the European industry to achieve these targets effectively and economically.

Two-thirds of CO2 emissions from cement and lime production are generated through the breakdown of limestone into lime and CO2 in furnaces. Technology from Calix, one of companies in the consortium, is being used to re-engineer the existing process flows, where it said that it was capable of capturing almost pure CO2 released from the limestone – potentially with no additional energy costs or environmental impact.

During the first three years, the project will focus on finalising the design of the demonstration plant, which will be constructed at the Heidelberg cement plant in Lixhe, Belgium once the necessary permits have been secured. A high temperature “direct separation calciner” pilot unit will then undergo two years of extensive testing in a standard operational environment, at a feed rate capacity of 240t per day of cement raw meal and 200t ground limestone respectively, over a continuous basis for several weeks.

Leilac said that fundamental research on the process demands and performance would be carried out to demonstrate that the technology works sufficiently and robustly enough to be scaled up to full operational use.

The project results will be shared widely with industry at key intervals during the testing.

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