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Sustainability is emerging as a major motivator for cement manufacturers

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– Manu Karan, Vice President, CleanMax

Will you please introduce your company to our readers?
CleanMax is the sustainability partner of choice for leading corporates and institutions in Asia. Our cumulative operating solar power capacity is over 575+MW across rooftop projects and opens access solar farms across India. We will be expanding our solar farms across multiple States in India by mid – 2020. We aim to achieve a cumulative installed capacity of over 2 GW by 2022 across geographies.

CleanMax has over 200 employees spread across projects, business development, finance and operations to cover all spectrum of the business. Head quartered out of Mumbai, we have seven offices across India, UAE and Thailand. Currently, in UAE, we have a project portfolio of over 25 MW and expanding our footprint in Thailand rapidly. Our track record with India’s top companies has made CleanMax a preferred partner for commercial and Industrial (C&I) across sectors, namely cement, manufacturing, food and beverages, automotive, pharmaceuticals, information technology, Education amongst others.

What has been the response in general from the cement industry to renewable power?
India is the second largest cement producer in the world and the demand for cement is further only expected to grow by multitudes due to demand in key sectors such as construction, infrastructure, real estate, etc.

The Indian cement industry is recognised globally as one of the most energy efficient in the world, with relatively large production units and the use of low-carbon, cost-effective technologies. The sector will still need to make significant efforts to achieve its carbon footprint reduction objectives. India’s cement industry has demonstrated its willingness to invest and reduce CO2 emissions and achieve a low-carbon future. The renowned cement company, ACC is one of our esteemed clients drawing per annum approximately 15 million solar electricity units from our solar farms and is reducing their carbon print significantly by abating around 14,400 tonnes of CO2 annually which is equivalent to planting 2,16,007 trees or getting 2,774 cars off the road.

How does the solar farm business operate?
Solar farms are large scale installations where photovoltaic panels, referred to as solar panels are used to harvest the power of the sun. The Solar farm business is operated in open access models, where the generated power from an offsite location is wheeled into the Cement producer’s facility by paying small charges to the grid operator Most corporates are making a stronger push towards going green, also sourcing solar power is the best way for them to reduce their carbon footprint. Environmentally conscious corporates are also adopting sustainable practices to fulfill their RE100 obligations. These companies are buying solar electricity through private solar farms to hedge their energy costs at the current prices for future use which is potentially 20 to 25 years. Including the servicing and maintenance costs of the plant over the years, the costs are negligible as compared to buying power from the grid. Most importantly, using solar power also demonstrates the sustainability commitment of the company.

Wheeling power from an "offsite" solar farm through the grid allows consumers to move the majority of their power requirement to renewables. The modalities vary from state to state, as regulations differ. But in nearly all large industrial states, CleanMax is now offering these solutions from a solar farm project within the state. In most cases, this requires a "group captive" legal structure, with some shareholding from the consumer. But there is now clarity on how regulations will treat these projects, and it is a great option for consumers to move the majority of their power consumption over to renewable energy.

While building a solar farm points to be kept in mind:
As a developer of solar farms, India is blessed with abundant sunlight which makes it ideal to adoption of Solar. Clear land without any shadows is of paramount importance. Demand from the local consumers, industries and easy grid connectivity are key factors which will determine the size of the farm, the equipment and the investments required.

Depending on the State where the farm is planned, the solar policy of the State, incentives if any, transmission and infrastructure charges throughout the life cycle; are factors to be considered during the planning stages. Accessible roads and/or the need to be constructed as part of the project will impact the costs of the farm. The financing of the project needs to be secured which could be equity or debt and this could vary from client to client depending on their respective requirements.

Adhering to safety standard and following security protocols are pertinent too. The project technicians should conform to all safety precautions at all times while installing or maintaining solar power plants. CleanMax prioritises the safety of people as well as the system; hence we carry out a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) before every project. This is important to pinpoint potential safety hazards and address them accordingly. As the solar power plant installations are at ground level, there is a possibility of accidental human contact; hence the area needs to be well isolated. Also, adequate and appropriate safety gear and processes adhered to is of crucial importance during maintenance activities.

Can you elaborate on remote monitoring and operation & maintenance? What kind of IT infrastructure you have deployed?
Operation and maintenance (O&M) is one of the most critical ways to ensure that the solar farm operates most optimally throughout its life-cycle. At CleanMax, we work to maintain the solar farm infrastructure and equipment, with the goal of improving the equipment’s life by preventing excess depreciation and impairment.

The O&M of solar farm requires periodic checks for ensuring optimal performance and security. All our solar farms are connected via SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems) and this is monitored at our central location across various parameters that measure the performance within a defined parameter. Any anomaly triggers an alarm that is relayed to ground staff to ensure a physical verification to prevent damage and rectify any errors as the case might be.

What are the main drivers for the cement industry to adopt solar energy? Some typical examples you would like to quote from the cement industry.
Sustainability is emerging as a major motivator for cement manufacturers. More and more corporates in India and around the world are making public pledges to source their power from renewable sources, such as through RE100. Equally important, they are making concrete plans to achieve these goals. Amongst the many options available, zero-investment renewable energy is a straightforward way for manufacturers to make meaningful progress towards sustainability goals in a single action method and without disruption to their operations.

For most companies, cost reduction is the most important factor to adopt solar power as the cement industry is a high guzzler of power. Across India, solar power provides electricity tariffs that are 30 to 50 per cent lower than the prevailing grid electricity tariffs for a rooftop or onsite solar farms. Solar farms can also provide large volumes of renewable power through the grid, in an open access or group captive basis, in most large states in India, also at a discount to grid electricity tariffs. All of this is possible with much any investment from the consumers’ end, which is a very attractive proposition.

Secondly, CleanMax’s innovative OPEX Model allows companies with healthy credit ratings to buy solar power without any capital expenditure and in a hassle-free manner. Thus, making it the most logical and reliable option of energy.

How can CleanMax help manufacturing units to reduce dependence on the grid without any investment?
At CleanMax, our mission has always been to help corporates achieve their sustainability targets while also saving cost. We offer manufacturers a way to reduce their power costs by 30 to 50 per cent (depending on the state), with zero or minimal investment through solar solutions.

We also take seriously the need to help clients get to their 100 per cent renewable goals. Rooftop solar plants are possible anywhere in India and are very cost effective, but they typically meet less than 15 to 20 per cent of a factory’s power consumption, and often much less. To source the majority of their consumption from renewables, consumers need to get power from solar farms through the grid, via open access or group captive power procurement models.

To service this need, CleanMax has expanded its large-scale offerings to almost all major states – if a manufacturer has factories in different states in India, chances are we can provide grid-connected renewable energy in most of those. The only states where we don’t provide open access power are those which don’t permit it at all. We are successfully providing approximately 17 million units of solar electricity annually to leading cement companies across different locations in India through our open access solar farms and rooftop solar projects, which means abating around 15,840 tonne CO2 per annum, equivalent to planting 2,37,608 trees or taking off 3,051 vehicles off the road.

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Concrete

Filtration can help to control climate change

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Niranjan Kirloskar, Managing Director, Fleetguard Filters, elaborates on the importance of filtration and its profound impact on efficiency, longevity and environmental sustainability.

Tell us about the core principle of filtration.
Filtration is segregation/separation of matter by density, colour, particle size, material property etc. Filtration is of four basic types:

  • Separation of solids from gas
  • Separation of solids from liquids
  • Separation of liquids from liquids
  • Separation of Solids from solids.

As applied to engines/equipment, the main objective of filtration is to purify the impurities and provide the desired fluid or air for enhanced engine/equipment performance in turn optimising their performance and life.

Can better filtration bring productivity to the work process? How?
Better filtration can improve the quality of application performance in multiple ways. Filtration improves engine performance as it filters and prevents dirt, dust, and debris from entering into the engine. This ensures that the quality of air or fluid that reaches the combustion chamber is as per the specific requirements of optimal performance of the engine. It also extends engine life by filtering out contaminants. Efficient filtration ensures optimal performance of the engine/equipment over its entire operating life. Filtration also improves fuel efficiency as a clean filter allows for a better air-fuel mixture in the engine, thus improving combustion efficiency, which in turn results in better fuel economy. It keeps emissions under control as fuels burn more efficiently leading to lesser harmful residue in the environment. Thus, to sum up, an optimal filtration solution ensures better performance, prolonged engine life and less hazardous waste in the environment.

What is the role of technology in the process of filtration?
Innovation, research and development as well as technology play a pivotal role in catering to the ever-evolving environmental norms and growing market demands. At FFPL we have NABL Accredited labs for testing, we have ALD Labs for design, and a team of R&D experts constantly working on providing advanced solutions to cater to the evolving market needs. We have robust systems and advanced technologies that make high-quality, high-precision products. Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities use advanced technologies, automation, robotics and also Industry 4.0 as applicable to provide the best products to our customers. To ensure each product delivered to market is of utmost precision, advanced quality equipment such as CMM, scanning systems and automated inspection technologies for real-time monitoring and quality control during the manufacturing of filtration systems and to comply with standard quality requirements are used.

Tell us about the impact of good filtration on health and the environment.
Good filtration of equipment is to the environment what a good respiratory system is to the body. There are various benefits of an efficient air filtration system as it improves the air quality by ensuring optimum combustion of fuel thereby reducing/controlling emissions to the environment. Efficient lube filtration ensures low wear and tear of the engine thereby extending life of the engines and maintaining optimal performance over the entire operating life of the engine. Efficient fuel filtration ensures low wear and tear of expensive and sensitive fuel injection thereby ensuring perfect fuel metering resulting in best fuel efficiency and saving of precious natural resources. This efficient filtration can help to control climate change as it reduces the carbon footprint due to combustion in the environment.

Can your products be customised and integrated with other machinery?
Fleetguard Filters have been known as a leading solutions provider for decades. With relevant experience and close customer relations, we understand the market/applications requirements and develop solutions to address the pressing technical challenges our customers face concerning filtration solutions. Filters can be customised in terms of size, shape and configuration to fit specific requirements. Customised filters can be designed to meet critical performance requirements. Filtration systems can be designed to integrate seamlessly with any auto and non-auto application requirements.

What are the major challenges in filtration solutions?
Major challenges faced in filtration solutions are:

  • With every emission regulation change, filtration requirements also keep changing.
  • Engines are being upgraded for higher power ratings.
  • Space for mounting filtration solutions on vehicles/equipment is shrinking.
  • For fuel injection systems, the water separation efficiencies are becoming more and more stringent, so are particle separation efficiencies.
  • Due to next level filtration technologies,filtration systems and filter elements are becoming expensive, thereby increasing TCO for customers.
  • Customers prefer higher uptimes and longer service intervals to ensure lower maintenance and operating costs.

We, at Fleetguard, strive continuously to ensure that all the pains experienced by our customers are addressed with the fit to market solutions. Balancing the cost of filtration solutions with their performance and durability can be challenging, especially where the requirements of high filtration standards are required. Also, wrong disposal methods for used filters can have environmental impact.

  • Kanika Mathur

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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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