Dalmia Cement threw down the gauntlet this week with the announcement of a large-scale carbon capture unit (CCU) at one of its plants in Tamil Nadu, India. An agreement has been signed with UK-based Carbon Clean Solutions Limited (CCSL) to use its technology in building a 0.5Mt/yr CCU. The partnership will explore how CO2 from the plant can be used, including direct sales to other industries and using the CO2 as a precursor in manufacturing chemicals. No exact completion date or budget has been disclosed.
The move is a serious declaration of intent from the Indian cement producer towards its aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2040. Dalmia has been pushing its sustainability ‘journey’ for several years now hitting targets such as reaching 6Mt of alternative raw materials usage in its 2018 financial year and reaching a clinker factor of 63% at the same time. In an article in the November 2018 issue of Global Cement Magazine it said it had achieved CO2 emissions of 526kg/t from its cement production compared to 578kg/t from other Indian members of the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI). In its eastern operations it had gone further to reach 400kg/t.
Using CCU is the next step to this progression but Dalmia’s approach is not without its caveats. Firstly, despite the size of the proposed project it is still being described as a ‘large-scale demonstration.’ Secondly, the destination of all that captured CO2, as mentioned above, is still being considered. CCSL uses a post-combustion capture method that captures flue gas CO2 and then combines the use of a proprietary solvent with a heat integration step. Where the capture CO2 goes is vital because if it can’t be sold or utilised in some other way then it needs to be stored, putting up the price. Technology provider CCSL reckons that its CDRMax process has a CO2 capture price tag of US$40/t but it is unclear whether this includes utilisation sales of CO2 or not.
The process is along similar lines to the Skyonic SkyMine (see Global Cement Magazine, May 2015) CCU that was completed in 2015 at the Capitol Cement plant in San Antonio, Texas in the US. However, that post-combustion capture project was aiming for 75,000t/yr of CO2. Dalmia and CCSL’s attempt is six times greater.
Meanwhile, Cembureau, the European cement association, joined a group of industrial organisations in lobbying the European Union (EU) on the Horizon Europe programme. It wants the budget to be raised to at least Euro120m with at least 60% to be dedicated to the ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’ pillar. This is relevant in a discussion on industrial CO2 emissions reduction because the scheme has been supporting various European cement industry projects, including HeidelbergCement’s work with the Low Emissions Intensity Lime And Cement (LEILAC) consortium and Calix at its Lixhe plant in Belgium and its pilots in Norway. As these projects and others reach industrial scale testing they need this money.
These recent developments provide hope for the future of the cement industry. Producers and their associations are engaging with the climate change agenda and taking action. Legislators and governments need to work with the cement sector to speed up this process and ensure that the industry is able to cut its CO2 emissions while continuing to manufacture the materials necessary to build things. Projects like this latest from Dalmia Cement are overdue, but are very encouraging.