On the way to net-zero: CO2 reduction in cement production
The global demand for cement is growing steadily. Urbanization and the growing population are driving up the demand.
Building components, entire structures, and most of our infrastructure are based on the building material. However, it is often overlooked that around three billion metric tons of CO2 per year are attributable to the production of cement alone. That is around ten percent of the greenhouse gas emitted by humankind!
A new research project on CO2 reduction
In light of the progressing climate change, cement manufacturers are coming under increasing pressure to make the production of the building material more sustainable. Therefore, the cement industry is working on reducing CO2 emissions in a number of ways. Why? Because even with the sole use of renewable energies, the raw materials used in cement production result in CO2 being released and emitted into the atmosphere. In a joint research project, thyssenkrupp Uhde, Holcim Germany, and the Technische Universität Berlin are working on reducing emissions in existing cement plants.
Carbon capture by means of a new amine scrubbing process
The partners plan to use a novel amine scrubbing technology for carbon capture. The goal is to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from existing cement plants and at the same time utilize the captured CO2 for other applications. In concrete terms, this includes the development of new mass transfer process equipment that is more efficient and resilient to contaminations. “Amine scrubbing is already commonly used to recover CO2 from process gases or exhaust gases. Now, we are developing the technol-ogy further and optimizing it for the cement industry. Additional applications for capturing CO2 direct at source, such as in waste incineration plants, are also possible,” explains Dr. Ralph Kleinschmidt, Head of Technology, Innovation and Sustainability at thyssenkrupp Uhde.
With strong partnerships on the way to climate neutrality
The foundation for a fast transformation of the cement industry is strong partnerships. Above all, cooperation between research institutions and industry is crucial here. “Developing innovative carbon capture technology for gas treating and improving the efficiency, environmental compatibility, and sustainability of existing carbon capture processes, as well as putting them into practice, is an urgent and crucial task that makes a direct contribution to climate protection. These goals can only be achieved if industry cooperates closely with research facilities like universities,” highlights Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jens-Uwe Repke, Chair of Process Dynamics and Operations Group at TU Berlin.
Arne Stecher, Head of Decarbonization at Holcim Germany, sees advantages in strong partnerships: “Carbon capture will be a must for cement plants in the near future. That is why we are testing different processes to find the best carbon capture technology. Carbon capture by means of amine scrubbing is a promising solution. I am pleased that, together with our partners, we can test the use of this innovative process in the cement industry.”
The next steps
The performance and efficiency of this equipment are being tested using real exhaust gas at the cement plant located in Beckum, Germany. This is paving the way for commercial use. Various possibilities for using the captured CO2 are also being examined, for example, methanol or sustainable fuels. With this process, the partners are seeking to make a contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases, especially in existing cement production plants. These can then be retrofitted with equipment for capturing CO2 from the process gas without further adapting the production process. The project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action under the funding number 03EE5103A.