Displaying items by tag: Emissions
One highlight from the cement industry news over the last month was Skyonic's announcement that it has opened a commercial-scale carbon capture unit at the Capitol Aggregates cement plant in Texas, US. Details were light, but the press release promised that the unit was expected to generate US$48m/yr in revenue for an outlay of US$125m. Potentially, the implications for the process are profound, so it is worth considering some of the issues here.
Firstly, it is unclear from the public information released whether the process will actually make a profit. The revenue figures for the Skyonic unit are predictions and are dependent on the markets that the products (sodium biocarbonate, hydrogen and chlorine) will be sold into. Skyonic CEO and founder, Joe Jones, has said in interview that the sodium-based product market by itself could only support 200 - 250 plants worldwide using this process. Worldwide there are over 2000 integrated cement plants. Since Jones is selling his technology his market prediction might well be optimistic. It is also uncertain how existing sodium biocarbonate producers will react to this new source of competition.
Secondly, Skyonic is hoping to push the cost of carbon capture down to US$20/t. Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and transportation varies between industries depending on the purity and concentration of the by-product. For example, in 2011 the US Energy Information Administration estimated the cost for CO2 capture to range from US$36.10/t for coal and biomass-to-liquids conversion up to US$81.08/t for cement plants. The difference being that capturing CO2 from cement plant flue gas emissions requires more cleaning or scrubbing of other unwanted chemicals such as mercury.
With these limitations in mind, Skyonic is placing itself in competition with the existing flue gas scrubbing market rather than the carbon capture market, since the level of CO2 removal can be scaled to local legislation. Plus, SOx, NO2, mercury and other heavy metals can be removed in the process.
Back on carbon capture, Skyonic is securing finance for a process it calls Skycycle, which will produce calcium-based products from CO2, with a pilot plant planned at Capitol Aggregates for late 2015. This puts Skyonic back amongst several other pilot projects that are running around the world.
Taiwan Cement and the Industrial Technology Research Institute inaugurated their calcium looping project pilot in mid-2013. It was last reported to have a CO2 capture rate of 1t/hr.
The Norcem cement plant in Brevik, Norway started in early 2014 to test and compare four different types of post-combustion carbon capture technologies at its pilot unit. These are Aker Solutions Amine Technology, RTI Solid Sorbent Technology, DNV GL/ NTNU/ Yodfat Engineers Membrane Technology and Alstom Power Regenerative Calcium Cycle. The project in conjunction with HeidelbergCement and the European Cement Research Academy (ECRA) is scheduled to run until 2017.
St Marys Cement in St Marys, Canada started its bioreactor pilot project in July 2014. This process uses flue gas to grow algae that can then be used for bio-oil, food, fertiliser and sewage treatment.
If Skyonic is correct then its sodium biocarbonate process in Texas is a strong step towards cutting CO2 emissions in the cement industry. Unfortunately, it looks like it can only be a step since the market won't support large-scale adoption of this technology. Other pilots are in progress but they are unlikely to gather momentum until legislation forces cement producers to adopt these technologies or someone devises a method that pays for the capture cost.
US: Skyonic has opened its first commercial-scale CO2 capture and utilisation facility, at the Capitol Aggregates cement plant in San Antonio, Texas. The US$125m Capitol SkyMine will have a total CO2 mitigation impact of 300,000t/yr, through the direct capture of 75,000t of CO2 and transformation into sodium bicarbonate, bleach and hydrochloric acid. The unit is expected to generate around US$48m/yr in revenue and US$28m/yr in annual earnings.
"The Capitol SkyMine facility is the first step in our vision to mitigate the effects of industrial pollution and close the carbon cycle," said Joe Jones, founder and CEO of Skyonic. The SkyMine process allows up to 90% of CO2 emissions from flue gas to be captured and transformed into solid products that can then be sold.
Russia: Eurocement has allocated Euro6.2m for the implementation of a new dedusting system at the Katavsky Cement plant in Chelyabinsk. The launch of the system, which was made by the Czech manufacturer ZVVZ, will reduce dust emissions by 33%.
Industrial energy consumers in Romania have succeeded in extracting concessions from the government's green certificates scheme this week. Cement producers, including Lafarge, Holcim and local HeidelbergCement subsidiary CarpatCement Holding, will benefit now from a 10-year facility to acquire the certificates and they will be allowed to buy up to 85% fewer certificates than at present.
The Romanian government reckons the change will save industry Euro750m. It will be good news for the cement producers and aluminium producer Alro Slatina, one of the chief lobbyists for the change which paid Euro39m for the certificates in 2013, reported losses of Euro17m and threatened production closures.
The debacle strikes a chord with other government-led attempts to nudge society towards lower-carbon emitting energy sources. First a national or international scheme offers economic incentives toward some sort of carbon reduction. Then major industrial users either complain that the system 'unfairly' penalises them or they find a way to play the system. The latest example of the adjustments in Romania is an example of the former, as is the current Australian government's intention to remove its carbon tax. Multinational companies surrendering carbon offsets into the European Union's (EU) emissions trading scheme (ETS) is an example of the latter.
In defence of government-industry negotiation, the EU ETS is now in its third phase of trying to make the scheme work as the EU tries to reach its target of a 20% cut in emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2020. In late 2013 environmental group Sandbag accused the target of containing a loophole that allows for a much smaller cut in emissions due to a slack in carbon budgets, of potentially 2% of 1990 levels. However, the EU confirmed in early June 2014 that it is on track to beat its target and cut down total emissions by 24.5% by 2020.
Alongside all of this arguing, overall energy costs have steadily risen over the last decade, as have the rates of co-processing at European cement plants. As a secondary major fuels consumer, behind energy generation and transportation, the cement industry is particularly susceptible to energy prices being jolted around behind various market trends, such as increases in natural gas supply in the US market. In effect the cement industry hops between different 'next best' options, after the leading energy consumers have taken the premium fuels. The interplay between legislators and heavy industry over carbon taxes prompts the following question: what encourages cement producers more to move to reduce their carbon emissions – legislation or fuel prices?
In other news this week, the chief executive of African producer Bamburi Cement, Hussein Mansi, has announced his plans to move on to Lafarge Egypt. In his memo to staff he mentioned, '...five very interesting years leading the Kenya – Uganda business.' Telling words perhaps given the Kenyan government's attention on Bamburi Cement and the East Africa Portland Cement Company, a producer minority-owned by Lafarge. Of course Mansi may discover that 'interesting' is relative in Egypt, a country on the other side of the energy subsidy spectrum to Europe and its carbon taxes.
Romania: Industrial energy consumers in Romania will gain a 10-year facility for green certificate acquisition, which will save them approximately Euro750m, the government has decided. About 300 large industrial companies in Romania, including Lafarge, Holcim and CarpatCement Holding, that will benefit from this measure, as they will be allowed to buy up to 85% less green certificates than they currently have to buy. The ratios are established on the rate of energy costs in their total production costs.
However, the adjustment to the green certificate scheme will add 1% to the energy costs for other consumers, who will have to buy more green certificates to support the existing subsidy scheme for green energy producers. The general population and smaller Romanian firms will see increases in electricity bills.
The support scheme will be applied from 1 August 2014 and it will also be notified to the European Commission.
US: The rebuilding of Lafarge's Ravena cement plant will move ahead days after the announcement of the Lafarge-Holcim merger. Construction will begin on 11 April 2014.
"We are moving forward with our current plans on the Ravena plant modernisation," said Lafarge US communications director Joelle Lipski-Rockwood. The rebuilding is part of a December 2010 settlement with state and federal officials to dramatically reduce emissions of NOx and SO2 at Lafarge's plants in the state of New York.
Two kilns that date from the 1950s will be replaced by a modern kiln with advanced pollution controls. Pollution at the Ravena plant, which sits across from the local high school, has concerned many local residents for many years. The new plant, which is expected to be running by mid-2017, will emit no more than 26.8kg/yr of mercury. In 2012 the plant emitted 63.5kg of mercury and in 2011 it emitted 64.9kg.
The project was initially due to be completed by the end of 2015, but in 2013 Lafarge received an extension from the state Department of Environmental Conservation in exchange for greater pollution cuts. As part of the emissions agreement, Lafarge also would have spent US$2m to retrain workers if plans to rebuild the plant were shelved and the plant was closed.
Canada: Mantra Energy Alternatives has struck a deal with Lafarge Canada to deploy an electrochemical reduction technology at one of Lafarge cement plants. The technology will convert carbon dioxide emissions into useful chemicals.
"This will be the first pilot plant of its kind in the world," said Mantra's vice president Patrick Dodd. If the system works as advertised it could be deployed at all of Lafarge's facilities.
The technology would convert carbon dioxide into useful chemicals like formic acid and formate salts. The pilot plant would convert 100kg/day of carbon dioxide emitted from the cement plant into concentrated formate salts. Colin Oloman and Hui Li of the Clean Energy Research Centre developed the technology at the University of British Colombia. Mantra Venture Group then purchased it in 2008.
Mantra plans to use the formic acid for use in its patented fuel cells, which it bills as a significantly less expensive fuel cell with greater power density.
Now that the deal between Mantra and Lafarge has been signed, work will begin on the detailed engineering for the plant and the purchase of custom equipment.
US: Cemtrex has announced that it is experiencing an increased level of inquiries relating to its emission monitors from cement companies. Although the technology company has not reported how much its enquiries have risen by, it stands to benefit from the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) amendments to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for the Cement Manufacturing Industry that have a compliance deadline date of 9 September 2015.
In a press release Cemtrex detailed monitoring instruments that it sells to measure mercury, hydrogen chloride, particulate matter and total hydrocarbons (THC) that are discharged from cement kiln stacks. Cemtrex estimates that each system will cost approximately US$0.50m and there are about 156 kilns that will be affected by this EPA MACT Rule in the US.
Belgium: Cembureau has issued a joint statement with other members of the Industrial Emissions Alliance declaring its concern for aspects of the upcoming European Commission proposals regarding the Air Policy Review. In particular the European Cement Association (Cembureau) singled out emissions reduction targets and the target year of 2025.
The statement calls for 50% 'gap closure' for emission reductions as it views a proposed rate of 75% as 'unobtainable' due to issues with how emissions reductions will be delivered by current legislation, the costs of going beyond current legislation and the environmental benefits of further measures. It added that the high rate would damage European Union (EU) industrial competiveness and EU jobs. The statement also calls for the target year to be extended to 2030 to align it with the Framework for Climate and Energy Policies dates.
Belgium: CEMBUREAU, the European Cement Association, has published a roadmap, the role of cement in the 2050 low carbon economy, detailing how the cement industry could achieve lower carbon emissions.
The project presents five parallel routes that can each contribute to lowering emissions related to cement production, as well as concrete production. These include methods such as resource efficiency, energy efficiency and carbon sequestration and reuse. These methods have been quantified in the roadmap because they are under the cement sector's control. The other two routes, product efficiency and downstream, look at how cement and concrete can contribute to a low carbon society.
"The cement roadmap is a view into the future. It shows us what is possible and where we find limitations. It is a good basis for future work, a good starting point. We need cooperation, not confrontation, but we also need to push each other to find new ideas, new pathways, towards a more sustainable future," said MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz at the launch event on 25 September 2013.