National Cement blunts CO2 factor while doubling flagship mill capacity

Sources: National Cement Company of Alabama, Birmingham; CP staff

New raw feed preheater tower and blending silo charge Ragland Kiln 2 (base), a Southeast market workhorse geared for the low-carbon construction materials era. Photo: Concrete Products

Executives of National Cement of Alabama and Paris-based parent Vicat Group staged a July 21 dedication of a new production line at their Ragland, Ala. plant. A Kiln 2 ribbon cutting capped a two-year, $300 million project that brings annual Ragland capacity to 2 million tons and assures a sharp reduction in net carbon dioxide emissions when measured against legacy powder output. 

The lower CO2 factor turns on a fuel mix sans coal: Ragland Kiln 2 is the first North American portland cement line engineered to run on 100 percent biomass or non-hazardous waste. It has premiered with natural gas fuel, but will transition to a mix of wood waste, tire scrap and readily transferred liquids bearing Btu value equal to rotary kiln demands. Waste-derived fuel will drive preheating and clinker phase CO2 emissions down 30 percent versus those of a coal-fired kiln. A switch from Type I/II to Portland-Limestone Cement, or Type IL, will reduce the CO2 factor in finished Ragland powder another 10 percent upon scheduled 2023 completion. 

“We are firmly committed to replacing fossil fuel-derived energy with regional recycled wastes, taking an ecological stand today that transitions and reduces our carbon footprint,” Vicat Chairman Guy Sidos told a gathering of colleagues and public officials led by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “We insist our investments contribute to local development and are extremely proud of the transformation of Ragland.”

“This highly energy-efficient operation, combined with our new clinker, will make our cementitious product one of the lower carbon cements in this market,” added National Cement of Alabama President R. Spencer Weitman. “This major investment on behalf of Vicat Group vastly improves our environmental impact and is a big step in the entire cement industry’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality across the concrete value chain by 2050.”

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