Cement production is the source of a large proportion of global CO2 emissions. High-temperature, energy-intensive processes that consume large amounts of raw materials and fossil fuels mean global cement production is estimated to account for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Given the expected reductions in CO2 emissions by the energy, heating, transport and other industries, emissions from cement production will grow to make up 26% of global CO2 emissions by 2050 unless something is done. In other words, a transition to more climate-friendly production methods is not only dearly needed, it also offers a huge potential.
“We've come a long way in making the cement industry more energy-efficient, reducing detrimental emissions and in recovering energy from waste. However, the challenge is that replacing the old products and processes is expensive and time-consuming, especially at a time when investment in new solutions is scarce. However, in order to ensure global sustainability, we have to develop specific low CO2 emission processes and continue our efforts to use more residual products and ensure clean air. Global cement consumption is growing as we strive to ensure better living conditions for the world’s population. We must support that objective by delivering sustainable and competitive processes," says Lars Skaarup Jensen, R&D Specialist and Project Manager at FLSmidth.
Processes are the key
Both companies use technologies based on high temperature processes, and the purpose of the project is to optimise these high-temperature processes throughout the entire production chain.
The two companies signed up to the project to ensure their production is made more climate-friendly as quickly as possible. The challenge lies in understanding the high-temperature processes in the production processes, but they can be difficult to “see” and measure. This is something DTU Chemical Engineering has a lot of experience in, so the idea is to combine commercial and public sector research. The project builds on years of research conducted at DTU Chemical Engineering’s CHEC research centre.
In order to reduce CO2 emissions further, we need to develop a deeper understanding of the processes in the high-temperature reactors used at the production facilities. Working closely with FLSmidth and ROCKWOOL, we will be performing advanced measurements directly at the plant facilities, so changes can be implemented.
Enhanced global competitiveness
Climate is serious business. Making the production of cement and insulation materials more sustainable will not only benefit the climate but also strengthen the exports of the Danish building materials industry to global markets. By enhancing energy utilisation, minimising environmental impact and maintaining high waste recycling rates, these companies will strengthen their essential technological pole position and thus their competitive strength in global markets.
At ROCKWOOL, our core business is to help our customers reduce their CO2 emissions. Our building insulation materials reduce CO2 emissions by 80 times as much as the amount of CO2 required to produce them. ROCKWOOL continually works to reduce energy consumption in production, and we have set ambitious goals for our climate emissions, so we’re really looking forward to being a part of this research project.