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Canada’s cement industry is responsible for up to 2% of the country’s CO2 emissions and about 30-40% of those emissions are due to burning coal. Co-firing biomass with fossil fuels is an effective way to reduce GHG emissions in coal-fired power plants and cement kilns.
This project will test the co-firing of six difference low carbon biofuels with fossil fuels to help power cement plants. The biofuels being tested are a mixture of waste materials such as construction and demolition wood which are normally destined for landfills. Diverting these materials from landfills, where they will degrade into methane, will reduce GHGs and extend landfill life. Notably, it will be the first science to include comparative life cycle assessments, full emission comparisons, evaluation of water use and burner optimization.
There has been some reluctance to introducing mixed biomass waste as low carbon fuel in cement plants because of a lack of good science to quantify emission reductions; this project will provide those assessments. There is also public concern that the combustion of biomass waste will cause other kinds of pollution. Industrial boilers used in this project burn fuel at a high enough temperature to achieve complete combustion which eliminates harmful chemicals and converts metals and creosote to slag, a solid form of waste.
Lafarge, the world’s largest cement manufacturer, is contributing more than $3 million toward building pilot facilities at the Bath Lafarge Cement Plant on Lake Ontario. The company will also provide the fuel supply, laboratory testing and other support.
Keeping fossil-based materials like shingles out of landfills will increase the lifetime use efficiency of fossil feedstocks and reduce associated carbon emissions. The fossil fuel derived components are expected to enable higher co-fire rates of biomass than achievable by biomass alone. All of the fuels have been pre-screened to ensure that they lower the industry’s environmental footprint.
$449,760/3 years; Awarded 2012
Most of the findings of this research project will be readily transferable to other energy intensive industries (electricity, steel, greenhouses, etc.) which could increase the potential greenhouse benefits by an order of magnitude. Making use of selected, screened energy-containing materials otherwise destined for landfill will improve diversion rates and avoid methane production.
The cement industry has limited experience with locally derived biomass and low carbon fuels. Usage rates are limited by the ability to economically dry biomass fuels and burner design limitations. The use of biomass is expected to lower NOx emissions but optimization is needed. Results can be applied to other energy intensive industries. As the world’s largest cement manufacturer, Lafarge is in a unique position to disseminate the benefits of this project to all regions of Canada and throughout the world.
Lafarge is providing the processed fuels, design and installation equipment, emission and feedstock sampling programs, and cement quality testing and evaluations. Lafarge and the Cement Association of Canada will contribute expertise and advice on how the pilot plant results can apply to other cement plants. World Wildlife Federation Canada will provide advice on the social and water use components of the analysis.
The pilot plant program is a full-scale, real-world testing platform designed to remove obstacles to the adoption of low carbon fuels by the Canadian cement industry. The main road block is the lack of comprehensive, lifecycle based, independent, and credible science. By confirming the safe and effective use of these low carbon fuels, governments, environmental NGOs, and the public may be more accepting.
This science is the first to include comparative life cycle assessments, full emission comparisons beyond compliance, water use evaluation, burner optimization and product quality reviews. The six proposed low carbon fuels are mixtures of “waste” petrochemical materials (such as asphalt shingles) and “waste” biomass, and in combustion these fuels are expected to reduce criteria pollutants (e.g. NOx) and persistent pollutants (e.g. mercury). The protocols developed in the research will be invaluable in assessing the reductions in a credible, transparent manner.
Fuel collection and preparation will investigate six types of feedstocks for:
Co-firing tests will be conducted under the Ontario Ministry of Environment’s “Municipal Waste Pilot Program” and include baseline testing, raw material and fuel analysis, emission analysis per published Ministry protocols, QA/QC reviews and statistics-based evaluation using protocols to be developed under this proposal. Lafarge will conduct quality tests to determine what effects, if any, the fuels have on product quality.
Monitoring of relevant airborne emissions (as determined by the Ministry) during the co-firing tests.
This project will address research gaps—lack of life cycle assessments and comparative emission studies in the Canadian context—that limit the expanded use of coal alternatives in Canada.
Dr. Warren Mabee
Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy
138 Union Street
Robert Sutherland Hall
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
T: 1-613-533-6000 x77092