LafargeHolcim, CenterPoint enter 6 million ton ash recycling phase

Opened in 2010 along Missouri’s Mississippi River banks, the 4 million ton/year Ste. Genevieve cement plant is the crown jewel of
Holcim (US) operations.

LafargeHolcim and waste management subsidiary Geocycle have logged the first coal ash shipment in a multi-year initiative with CenterPoint Energy Inc. Delivered by barge via the Mississippi River, the 2,000-ton load replaces natural clay and fine aggregate as raw feeds at the Holcim (US) Ste. Genevieve mill in Missouri, North America’s largest cement operation.

“This milestone is a tangible example of how industry participants can develop creative and efficient solutions that contribute to the circular economy. Together, LafargeHolcim, Geocycle and CenterPoint Energy will avoid landfilling for power plants and reduce the consumption of non-renewable raw materials. This is a clear win-win for people and our planet,” says LafargeHolcim U.S. Cement CEO Toufic Tabbara. 

The partners have invested more than $80 million in infrastructure to extract, process, store and consume coal combustion residuals (CCR)—primarily bottom ash plus non-spec fly ash—from a 165-acre pond at the utility’s A.B. Brown generating station in Evansville, Ind. They project recycling of 6 million-plus tons of ash over the current contract. It extends a 12-year program during which Geocycle has harvested and dispatched to Ste. Genevieve nearly 1.5 million tons of dry fly ash waste from A.B. Brown and two Indiana sister generating stations. 

With careful material sourcing and testing, the new initiative advances the treatment of ponded CCR, traditionally written off for use in cement and concrete production. Geocycle’s beneficiation technology, tested on CenterPoint and other generating station deposits, is being deployed in markets experiencing fly ash shortages due to the ongoing retirement of coal-fired power plants.

“Our initiative with LafargeHolcim and Geocycle has been the ideal solution as it has allowed for the material to be removed from the environment and used for beneficial purposes,” affirms CenterPoint Senior Vice President, Indiana Electric Operations Steve Greenley. “Our decision to recycle coal ash has reduced the impact on the environment and allowed for a choice with less financial impact than other compliance options.”

“This significant circular-economy relationship with CenterPoint Energy is a powerful example of how our recycling management business seeks innovative solutions to turn ecosystem challenges into opportunities that contribute value to our operations and advance commitment to a Net Zero future,” observes Geocycle North America Head Sophie Wu.


The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory has committed $4 million to a University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute project studying carbon capture methods at the Holcim (US) Ste. Genevieve cement mill in Missouri. LafargeHolcim and Air Liquide Engineering & Construction will participate through cost share contributions.

The project will add to the University of Illinois’ carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) roster. Investigators will aim for a cement plant retrofit method that can separate up to 95 percent of carbon dioxide otherwise released to the environment, the captured gas ready for pipeline transfer to geological storage. The design will employ Air Liquide’s Crycocap FG system, which combines Pressure Swing Adsorption capabilities with cryogenic refrigeration technologies to achieve high gas capture and purity rates.

“While we have partnered with energy-generation facilities on many of our carbon management projects, carbon from industrial sources is also a key piece of the puzzle,” says Prairie Research Institute Principal Investigator Kevin OBrien. Exploring carbon capture technology at commercial scale—North America’s largest cement operation, no less—holds “the potential for significant impact.”

“We recognize that in our industry, the ability to decarbonize is the real game changer. This project selected by U.S. DOE is another significant step in advancing large-scale CCUS technology in our industry,” adds LafargeHolcim Head of Cement Industrial Performance, North America Derick Dreyer. “This partnership is a powerful example of how collaboration across industry, the public sector and academia can advance carbon capture, utilization and storage projects that are the critical steps to accelerating the transition to a net-zero future.”