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Holcim (US) cement plants bag safety awards

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Holcim (US) Inc announced that two of its plants – Midlothian in Midlothian, Texas, and Devil’s Slide in Morgan, Utah – have received the Portland Cement Association’s (PCA) prestigious Chairman’s Safety Performance Award in recognition of their exceptional health and safety programmes. The award was presented to the company during the PCA’s Spring Board of Directors meeting in Chicago. "The fact that our Midlothian plant has received this award for three consecutive years demonstrates the commitment our management team and employees have on health and safety," said Bernard Terver, President and Chief Executive Officer, Holcim (US). He added, "Adding Devil’s Slide to the list of Holcim recipients is an outstanding accomplishment for our employees who are deeply committed to the safety of all who visit our plants, terminals, and offices. Each of our employees is focused on making it possible for all to return home each and every day."

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Concrete

Rajasthan gets a water harvesting project

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Prince Pipes and Fittings Limited, in partnership with Ambuja Foundation, has launched a comprehensive water harvesting project in Chomu district of Rajasthan as part of its CSR initiative. The project aims to address water scarcity and enhance community resilience against water-related challenges. Ambuja Foundation will focus on setting up over 50 rooftop rain rainwater harvesting systems to provide a reliable source of water for 250 people. Additionally, efforts will be made to revive 2 village ponds, creating 10,000 cubic meters of water storage capacity, and to rejuvenate groundwater by implementing check dams, farm ponds and farm bunding. The project also includes educating the local community on water conservation techniques and promoting conscious water usage. This initiative seeks to support farmers through the government’s subsidies to install sprinkle irrigation systems at a minimal cost, while also contributing to livestock strengthening and promoting community ownership.

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Concrete

Innovations in Sustainability

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Dr SB Hegde, Professor, Jain University, Bangalore, and Visiting Professor, Pennsylvania State University, USA, discusses how the cement sector is battling substantial carbon emissions and resource depletion, and embracing advanced technologies to mitigate its environmental impact.

In the relentless pursuit of urbanisation and infrastructure development, the cement industry finds itself at a pivotal intersection of ambition and responsibility. This foundational sector has long been synonymous with progress and growth, providing the bedrock for modern cities and industries. Yet, beneath its seemingly unyielding façade lies a profound challenge – the environmental footprint it leaves behind. Cement production, for its high carbon emissions and resource consumption, is now compelled to rewrite its narrative. The cement industry needs to become more sustainable using advanced technology. In this article, we will explore the world of cement production and discover new solutions that can change its future.

Considering traditional cement production is a major emitter of CO2, accounting for around 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. It consumes a vast amount of limestone, a finite resource, and contributes to deforestation and habitat destruction in limestone-rich regions.

Supplementary cement materials (SCMs) and creative ideas like Calcined Clay Clinker (LC3) are making a big difference. These different materials are transforming the way things are done. For example, in India, where the cement industry is one of the largest carbon emitters, LC3 technology, which incorporates calcined clays into cement, has been demonstrated to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30 per cent and substantially decrease energy consumption during the clinker production process. By 2050, it is estimated that the implementation of such alternative materials could help the cement sector reduce its global CO2 emissions by up to 16 per cent.

The cement industry because of its energy-intensive processes, consuming approximately 5 per cent of the world’s total energy and contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste heat recovery systems, a pivotal technology, are setting an example for sustainability. A case study from a cement plant in Germany showed that waste Innovations in Sustainability Dr SB Hegde, Professor, Jain University, Bangalore, and Visiting Professor, Pennsylvania State University, USA, discusses how the cement sector is battling substantial carbon emissions and resource depletion, and embracing advanced technologies to mitigate its environmental impact. heat recovery reduced energy consumption by approximately 20 per cent and cut CO2 emissions by 1.6 million tons annually. This not only demonstrates the environmental benefits but also underscores the economic advantages of such innovations.

Furthermore, the industry is adopting alternative fuels, often derived from waste materials. Lafarge Holcim, one of the world’s largest cement producers now utilizes alternative fuels in 37 per cent of its cement plants. This has resulted in an estimated reduction of 2.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, showcasing the transformative potential of sustainable fuel sources.

The electrification of kiln systems is a transformative step towards sustainability. While the shift to electrification is in its nascent stages, there are promising examples. Heidelberg Cement, a global leader in building materials, has set ambitious targets to electrify its cement production processes. By leveraging renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, the company aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 per cent within the next decade. These concrete numbers underscore the industry’s commitment to low-carbon electrification.

Hybrid and flash calcination technologies offer compelling statistics as well. For instance, a pilot project using flash calcination technology in the Netherlands yielded a 25 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to traditional rotary kilns. These numbers highlight the potential of disruptive technologies to reshape the cement industry.

This article is like a clear road map with real examples, explaining how the cement industry is becoming greener and more sustainable. By using technology, the cement industry wants to find a balance between moving forward and taking care of the environment. It’s showing how an industry can change to become more sustainable, strong and responsible for the future.

CURRENT TECHNOLOGIES


1. Alternative raw materials: The cement industry’s traditional reliance on limestone as a raw material is undergoing a transformation. The incorporation of alternative materials like fly ash, slag or pozzolans is a sustainable approach. For example, the use of fly ash in cement production can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 50 per cent compared to traditional Portland cement.

2. Energy efficiency: Improving energy efficiency is crucial. Waste heat recovery systems can significantly reduce energy consumption. For instance, waste heat recovery in cement plants can lead to a 20-30 per cent reduction in energy consumption.

3. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): CCS is a promising technology. In Norway, the Norcem Brevik cement plant has successfully demonstrated the capture of CO2 emissions, which are then transported and stored offshore. This technology can capture up to 400,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

4. Use of alternative fuels: The shift towards alternative fuels can significantly reduce carbon emissions. For example, the use of alternative fuels in the European cement industry results in an average substitution rate of about 40 per cent of conventional fuels.

5. Blended cements: Blended cements, combining clinker with supplementary cementitious materials, can lead to lower emissions. For example, the use of slag and fly ash can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 40 per cent.

INNOVATION FOR THE FUTURE
1. Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU): CCU technology is still emerging, but it shows great potential. Innovations like carbon mineralisation can convert CO2 into stable mineral forms. Carbon Engineering, a Canadian company, is working on a direct air capture system that can capture one million tons of CO2 annually.

Feasible CCS technologies for the cement industry include:

a. Post-combustion capture: Capturing CO2 emissions after combustion during clinker production using solvents or adsorbents.
b. Pre-combustion capture: Capturing CO2 before combustion, often used with alternative fuels.
c. Oxy-fuel combustion: Burning fuel in an oxygenrich environment to facilitate CO2 capture.
d. Chemical looping combustion: Using metal oxides to capture CO2 during the calcination process.
e. Carbonation of alkaline residues: Capturing CO2 using alkaline residues from other industrial processes.
f. Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage (ICCS): Directly capturing CO2 from the cement production process.
g. Underground storage: Transporting and storing CO2 underground in geological formations.
h. Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR): Injecting captured CO2 into depleted oil reservoirs.
i. Mineralisation: Converting CO2 into stable mineral forms for potential use or storage.

The cement industry can reduce emissions by adopting these technologies, but cost, energy, and infrastructure challenges must be addressed for widespread implementation. Collaboration among stakeholders is crucial for successful CCS integration.
2. Biomimicry in cement design: Researchers are exploring biomimetic materials inspired by nature. For example, a company called BioMason uses microorganisms to grow cement-like building materials, reducing energy use and emissions.
3. 3D printing of cement: 3D printing technology offers precise and efficient construction, reducing material waste. In a study, 3D-printed concrete structures used 40-70 per cent less material compared to traditional construction methods.
4. Blockchain for supply chain transparency: Blockchain technology ensures transparency and traceability. It is already being used in supply chains for various industries, including cement. By tracing the origin of raw materials and tracking production processes, it ensures sustainability compliance.

EVALUATING AND IMPLEMENTING SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGIES
1. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): LCAs assess environmental impacts. For instance, a comparative LCA study found that geopolymer concrete (an alternative to traditional concrete) had 36 per cent lower carbon emissions compared to Portland cement.
2. Cost-benefit analysis: Considerations of initial investments and ongoing operational costs are paramount. Studies show that the implementation of waste heat recovery systems can pay back their initial costs in as little as two years, leading to long-term savings.
3. Regulatory compliance: Stricter emissions standards are being enforced globally. The European Union, for instance, has set ambitious emissions targets for the cement industry, mandating a 55 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030
4. Scalability: The scalability of technologies is critical for industry-wide adoption. Technologies like blended cements and waste heat recovery systems are already scalable, with global cement companies actively implementing them.
5. Stakeholder engagement: Engaging stakeholders is essential. For example, Holcim, a leading cement manufacturer, has partnered with NGOs and local communities to ensure sustainable practices and community involvement in their projects.

In conclusion, the cement industry is on a transformative path towards sustainability, driven by technological innovations. By embracing alternative raw materials, enhancing energy efficiency, and exploring cutting-edge solutions like carbon capture and utilization, the industry is reducing its environmental impact. The future holds even more promise, with biomimetic materials, 3D printing and blockchain enhancing sustainability.

Evaluating and implementing these technologies necessitates comprehensive assessments, cost-benefit analyses, regulatory compliance, scalability and stakeholder engagement. The industry’s commitment to sustainability not only addresses environmental concerns but also aligns with societal values and expectations, setting the stage for a greener and more responsible future for cement production.

REFERENCES:
1. NIST. (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Role of NIST in Sustainable Cements.
2. International Energy Agency. Cement Technology Roadmap 2018.
3. Gassnova. Longship – CO2 Capture, Transport, and Storage.
4. European Cement Association. Cembureau.
5. CSI. (Cement Sustainability Initiative) Slag Cement and Concrete.
6. Carbon Engineering. Direct Air Capture and Air To Fuels.
7. The University of New South Wales. Alternative Cement Discovery Set to Reduce Carbon Emissions.
8. BioMason. BioMason Technology.
9. NCCR Digital Fabrication. DFAB House Project.
10. IBM Blockchain. IBM Blockchain Solutions for Supply Chain.
11. ScienceDirect. Life Cycle Assessment of Geopolymer Concrete.
12. Energy.gov. Heat Recovery Technologies.
13. EU Climate Action. EU Climate Action: Climate Targets for Cement Industry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Dr SB Hegde is an industrial leader with expertise in cement plant operation and optimisation, plant commissioning, new cement plant establishment, etc. His industry knowledge cover manufacturing, product development, concrete technology and technical services.

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Concrete

Stud technology has proven to be a boon for the industry

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Ashok Kumar Dembla, President and Managing Director, KHD Humboldt Wedag India, discusses the advancements in grinding solutions that focus on low energy consumption, dust free circuits and low maintenance.

Tell us about the role of your grinding solutions in the cement industry?
We all know that grinding constitutes about 65-70 per cent of electrical energy consumption of cement manufacturing. Any saving in grinding energy can be good for operating cost reduction. Also, energy cost is increasing with time, therefore cement manufacturing companies are looking for new technologies for low electrical energy consumption. In the past few years, KHD has worked extensively in the field of grinding to reduce electrical energy consumption in the cement industry, which also helps in reduction in carbon footprints. We at KHD provide all kinds of grinding solutions be it raw material grinding, cement grinding or slag grinding.

How do you customise your grinding solutions to fit the requirements of distinct cement plants?
Based on the cement manufacturers requirement, we offer customised solutions for various grinding circuits. Every cement plant has specific requirements. Like some focus on low-cost solutions, some focus on energy efficiency whereas some focus on operational excellence. The input material hardness, moisture, abrasively, feed size and product requirement decide what solution is to be offered for achieving a cost effective and energy efficient solution. We have various sizes of roller presses, various types of roller surfaces, types of rollers and arrangement of roller presses in the circuit like roller press in semi-finish mode, roller press in finish mode, size of ball mill in semi-finish mode, location of static separator in process circuit, etc. So, based on all the factors, we decide what is to be offered.

How do your grinding solutions help cement plants achieve energy efficiency?
Latest developments related to raw material grinding in finish grinding in roller press have paid dividends even for soft and medium to hard material. Hard raw materials are giving higher bonus factor in finish grinding roller press systems and cement manufacturers are getting 2-4 Kwh/t saving in electrical energy in raw material grinding itself by using this technology as compared to vertical mill technology. Typical circuit offered by KHD for raw materials grinding in ComFlex Grinding circuit has advantages to process raw materials with high moistures with incorporation of V-Separator below the roller press and use of hot gases to dry the raw materials.
With the focus of the industry towards WHR systems, roller press grinding has further received acceptance as it uses no water for bed stabilisation and uses minimum hot gases as compared to other contemporary technologies.
In case of cement grinding, two technologies are being accepted, either vertical roller mill or roller press in semi-finish or finish grinding. Roller press in finish grinding has the advantage of further saving of 3-4 Kwh/t as compared to semi-finish grinding and vertical mill technology. With more acceptance of blended cements like PPC, PSC and composite cements, roller press in finish grinding is accepted as advanced technology in cement grinding. Typical finish and semi-finish grinding circuits offered by KHD are very popular in the cement industry. which includes use of roller press alone or in combination of roller press and ball mill respectively.
In the case of slag grinding, acceptance of roller press in finish grinding is well recognised. It offers a distinct advantage of saving of about 6-7 Kwh/t as compared to the vertical roller mill at 4200 Blaine. The advantage comes due to the hardness of slag and pressure grinding in roller press instead of attrition and low pressure in vertical roller press. Moisture issue is also tackled with the problem of coating by incorporating a V-separator below the roller press.

Tell us about the role of separators in the grinding process? How do they help achieve cost efficiency?
The basic role of a separator is to separate the feed material entering into it after grinding into two products i.e., coarse and fine. While fine is normally the final product in case of dynamic separator and is intermediate product in case of V-Separator. Dynamic separators have also gone through various technological developments, and we are offering 4th generation high efficiency separators now-a-days. These separators offer sharp cut point and minimum bypass (particle below 3 microns). This leads to less recirculation of fines thus improving the availability of the system and in turn efficiency of the system. V-separator is an excellent pre-separator cum dryer (in case of wet material) which is used for pre-separating the roller press throughput before the second separation in a dynamic separator. Two stage separation in the roller press circuit makes it energy efficient and ensures proper product quality.

Materials used for the manufacturing of cement are evolving every day. How does your machinery adapt to this change at the cement plants?
With the trends more on low clinker to cement ratio, today the Indian cement industry is moving very fast toward this aspect. PSC, PPC, composite cements are going up the curve. The cement industry is well versed with the utilisation and manufacturing of blended cement. KHD is one of the key suppliers for providing energy efficient technologies viz roller press grinding for the production of blended cement.
It is estimated that decreasing the clinker ratio in production of cement contributes to nearly 37 per cent of targeted CO2 reduction. By promoting PPC and PSC cement in India, more than 85 per cent cement is produced as blended cement or composite cement (which has come into existence during the last 3-5 years). PPC allows 35 per cent fly-ash usage at present, whereas PSC allows 55 per cent to 65 per cent granulated slag in clinker. Increase of Pozzolana (fly-ash) usage in PPC, up to 45 per cent can reduce the carbon footprint further which has a permissible limit of up to 55 per cent in some European countries. Our roller presses are well versed to take care of all these materials smoothly.

What role does technology play in designing and executing your grinding circuit at the cement plants?
It’s mainly the technology that has promoted the roller press circuits for grinding over VRM technology. Our technology takes into consideration the lowest energy consumption, dust free circuits, nil water consumption, lower maintenance and more in terms of availability and reliability. So, all the systems are based on technology to address all these points. For example, roller press surface plays an important role regarding maintenance requirements. Stud surface of roller press can provide continuous availability of roller press for 4-5 years without any welding requirement. Welded surfaces also have less than half the requirement of welding as compared to VRM, which has the attrition principle of grinding in addition to pressure grinding.

What are the major challenges in curating and executing grinding solutions?
Over the years we have done intensive work in the field of grinding solutions. We don’t foresee any major challenge now as we have already achieved lower power consumption, dust free circuits, more reliability, environmentally friendly grinding. However, we are on the track of continuous improvements to even achieve better because we believe that nothing is impossible, and we are always bound to reach new heights. With use of blended cements and LC3 Cement in coming future in India we are expecting higher blain requirement in final product which may see some technological advances in secondary grinding i.e., ball mills may be replaced by special mills however roller press shall continue in semi-finish and finish grinding applications.

Tell us about the innovations by your organisation in the near future that the cement industry can look forward to.
At present, the focus is to use roller press in finish grinding to get maximum energy advantage as compared to ball mill grinding especially for blended cement. Apart from electrical energy, the focus is also on roller press surfaces, which has minimum wear and offers trouble and maintenance free operation. Stud technology has proven to be a boon for the industry. Tungsten Carbide Studs are fixed on the roller surface by pressing in pre-drilled rollers, which offers autogenous grinding and minimum wear. Life expected out of these roller surfaces varies from 25,000-40,000 hours of operations without any surface maintenance.
Apart from this, developments are focussed on optimising the process circuit for energy efficient and pollution free operation. Developments in actuated dosing gate for feeding material to roller press and online monitoring of roller press surface are also worth noticing. There shall also be developments related to use of digital technology to monitor the performance of these grinding systems, which can contribute towards optimised production and increased availability due to timely signals regarding maintenance requirements.

-Kanika Mathur

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