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Cutting Carbon by 20% for Free? A case study in the cement industry

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Paulina Rowicka.

The cement industry is responsible for between 5% to 8% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. This is a result of the high energy intensity of the process, significant CO2 release from the raw materials used, and large global consumption. It is also a high growth sector as developing countries build a modern infrastructure.

My research so far has concentrated on the day-to-day performance variation of an individual cement plant. This operational variation is not included in current roadmaps for reduction of cement industry CO2 emissions, but has the advantage of being cost neutral, or even saving money for cement producing companies. Scaled to the global level, the variation observed at this plant represents a potential for improvement of up to 100MTCO2e per year – the equivalent of taking 21 million cars off the road.

Two mathematical models were used, first to examine the energy balance of the plant and then to predict CO2 emissions from given input conditions. The largest source of energy consumption was the dissociation energy required to form clinker, however, its variation was small. Airflow and fuel type were found to dominate the variation of performance. Optimising the factors affecting performance was predicted to reduce energy consumption by 8.5% and CO2 emissions by 19.5% – results similar to levels observed on the factory’s best-performing days.

The next steps of the research will involve investigating other factories to assess the applicability of the result more broadly, and finding ways to work with industry to implement some of the research findings.

This talk is part of the Caius MCR/SCR research talks series.

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