Designing the cement plant of the future. Part I.

The most pressing issue for the cement plant of the future may be Portland cement’s large CO2 footprint. Exactly how the final targets will be set and costs/ benefits applied across political boundaries is yet to be determined. This leaves cement producers in a quandary as to what technologies to invest in for new plant design. The Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI), in conjunction with the International Energy Agency (IEA), has developed a target of 370 kg of CO2/kg of Portland cement as an acceptable 2050 target. This target is in line with a 2  ̊C temperature rise scenario. The IEA and CSI agree that the traditional levers will not be sufficient to meet the future targets. The implication is that some special levers will be required allowing carbon capture and utilization. Post-combustion solutions can always be added to existing cement plants at a later date. However, these technologies may end up being more costly than designed-in applications such as oxy- combustion, oxy-calcination (a variant provided that only the precalciner gases are isolated and captured), and indirect calcination. Many technologies have been trialed, but there are no clear leaders or global solutions. Enabling oxy-calcination as potentially a small incremental investment in new plant design and construction appears to be a reasonable insurance policy against an uncertain future.
Author: J. Kline

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