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Oxygen fuels cement producers’ carbon capture venture

Sources: HeidelbergCement AG, Germany; CP staff

The parent companies of Lehigh Hanson Inc., Buzzi Unicem and National Cement Co. have joined a fourth European peer on Cement Innovation for Climate or CI4C, a research corporation investigating the potential of oxygen fuel technology to maximize carbon dioxide capture in portland cement production. 

Germany’s HeidelbergCement (Lehigh Hanson), Dyckerhoff AG (Buzzi) and Schwenk Zement KG, along with Paris-based Vicat SA (National), are awaiting antitrust authority approval to proceed as a corporation whose principal research endeavor is dubbed catch4climate. The oxyfuel technology they aim to test entails injection of pure oxygen into the cement kiln to assure proper primary and secondary fuel combustion. Oxygen in lieu of ambient air yields clinker phase exhaust with carbon dioxide at a purity level improving prospects for capturing the greenhouse gas. 

“The goal is to capture 100 percent of the CO2 emissions of a cement plant in a cost-efficient way,” CI4C partners explain. “catch4climate will investigate options for the widespread use of this technology in cement plants in order to enable a subsequent use of the captured CO2 as raw material in other industrial processes. The European cement industry could contribute to the significant reduction of process-related CO2 emissions, thereby providing an important contribution to climate protection.”

Pending regulator approval plus operational and emission-related permits, the partnership envisions a 2020 timetable for a semi-industrial scale oxyfuel test facility at the Schwenk Mergelstetten cement works in southern Germany. catch4climate is among research & development endeavors—at the hands of cement operators or outside entrepreneurs—in the rapidly unfolding carbon capture field. 

 

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