Cement remains the foundation of modern civilisation, creating affordable housing for billions of people and providing an essential element for the construction of our infrastructure. However, conventional cement production accounts for approximately 7-8 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions, which makes significant reductions of emissions a number one priority for the industry.
The introduction of carbonation technologies for cement will allow producers to recycle CO2, particularly that originating from the traditional calcination of limestone, and to produce supplementary cementitious materials (SCM) in which CO2 can be permanently stored. The successful development and implementation of carbonation technologies is expected to eliminate up to 30 percent of CO2 emissions.
“We have been granted a unique opportunity to revolutionise the cement industry at a time of extreme urgency,” says Burcin Temel McKenna, Head of Green Cement Solutions Development, FLSmidth. “No stone is left unturned as the industry transitions into more environmentally friendly practices, which includes alternative raw materials such as clay, electrification and carbon capture and utilisation.”
“On-site carbon capture and utilisation projects will be a quicker and more economically viable way forward for in cement plants,” Burcin Temel McKenna concludes.
The ability to circulate the CO2 emissions and reabsorb these into aggregates or SCMs will not only contribute to achieving the industry’s climate ambitions, but also offers a massive financial opportunity to the industry – especially for cement producers facing phase-out of carbon allowances and increasing carbon taxes.
The consortium, named CO2Valorize, includes several partners: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, HZDR Innovation with Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and Technische Universität Dresden, Technical University of Denmark, University of Padova, Siemens Process Systems Engineering and Cemmac. The partners will support eight fully funded PhD students conducting research into the characterisation and kinetics of carbonated materials and optimisation of the carbonation process. They will also explore the commercial opportunities for mineral carbonation. Focus will be on the carbonation of calcium-, aluminium-, and magnesium-silicates as well as cement derivatives, slag, fly ash, recycled concrete fines and mine tailings.
The expected commercial and technical outcomes include a full flow sheet of the carbonation process line, techno-economic analysis of various technology and materials options, and the optimization of FLSmidth's proprietary reactors.
The € 2 million funding comes via the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Networks and is provided by the EU Commission’s Horizon Europe under the pilar of Excellent Science. The Horizon Europe Framework Programme is the EU’s key funding instrument for research and innovation with a total budget of €97 billion for the period 2021-2027. One of each main missions is to tackle climate change, help to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and boost the EU’s growth though the European Green Deal strategy.
“One objective of CO2Valorize will be that of setting up reliable mathematical models of carbonation technologies. That will allow for re-designing and optimizing the production processes and, in turn, reduce cement environmental footprint” says prof. Fabrizio Bezzo at University of Padova. “We are keen on supervising and fully supporting the PhD students in this challenging research quest”.
“Systems engineering methodologies for optimizing process design and operations have already made significant contributions to the abatement of CO2 emissions across many sectors of the process industries. We are confident that, with the work envisaged in this project, they will have a similarly substantial impact on the cement production sector” says prof. Costas Pantelides, CEO of Siemens Process Systems Engineering.
“At DTU we look forward to develop a high temperature carbonation technology in collaboration with FLSmidth that can utilize some of the heat streams on a cement plant to assist the carbonation process” says senior researcher Peter Arendt Jensen.
“Sustainable construction materials is a focus area for NTNU’s activities, covering education, research, and innovation. The hosted PhD student will address mechanisms and verification of carbonation of constituent materials used for concrete and other cementitious materials” says prof. Mette Rica Geiker.
The CO2Valorize consortium and its ambition to significantly reduce CO2 emissions makes it a key enabler of FLSmidth’s MissionZero programme, which is the sustainability ambition to enable cement producers to operate plants at zero emissions by 2030.
Mads Rasmussen, FLSmidth
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Mette Geiker, NTNU
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Fabrizio Bezzo, University of Padova
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Peter Stemmermann, KIT
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Bart de Groot, Siemens Process Systems Engineering
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Martin Rudolph, Innovation with Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf
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Kerstin Eckert, Technische Universität Dresden
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Peter Arendt Jensen, DTU
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Daniel Prekop, CEMMAC a.s.
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