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Lafarge begin processed sewage pellet evaluation

World Cement,

Having received approval from The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Lafarge began its evaluation of processed sewage pellets (PSP) for use as a new waste-derived fuel at its cement plant in Dunbar last week.

In August last year, the company ran a community consultation through local media, exhibitions and a newsletter, explaining its proposal to use the new fuel.  Since then, SEPA has approved the application and a new silo and handling facilities have been installed in the Dunbar plant in order to evaluate the fuel’s potential. 

The evaluation will involve carefully monitoring the on-site management of the fuel, how it fits into the existing production process, and to what extent emission levels are impacted by its use.  The evaluation process is expected to take place over four months. The results will be written up and reported back to SEPA by April 2013.  If the evaluation is to the satisfaction of SEPA, PSP will become part of Lafarge’s operating permit at Dunbar.

The company has already replaced over 35% of its annual coal usage each year at this particular plant, with established waste-derived fuels comprising tyres and Recycled Liquid Fuel.  Adding PSP to the plant’s portfolio of alternative fuels is likely to take bring coal replacement rates close to 50%. Not only will this help to reduce the site’s carbon footprint, but it also shows support for Scotland’s Zero Waste strategy. 

Dunbar plant manager, Nigel Blair said, “Waste-derived fuels continue to offer many benefits to our business – they help us maintain our environmental performance, reduce our carbon footprint and manage our very high energy costs. At a time like this when we are operating in a very tough market, this fuel – which is classed as ‘carbon-neutral’ – offers us an economically viable and environmentally beneficial way to improve the business for the future and safeguard jobs, as well as being part of Scotland’s waste solution.”

PSP is made from heat-treating the sludge remaining after sewage treatment; almost a million tonnes of this dry material is generated in the UK each year.  While some ends up as agricultural fertiliser, and indeed, is currently being considered for use on organic land, much of it is sent to landfill.  Using it instead as a fuel will help the Scottish Government achieve its target to cut waste sent to landfill to 5% by 2025.

PSP has already proved itself as an effective fuel in the cement-making process in many countries – Austria, Spain, France and South Korea, to name a few.  It has also been used closer to home, at the Dunbar plant’s sister plant in Cauldon Staffordshire, which – as we recently reported – has just become the company’s third to use 100% waste-derived sustainable fuels to run its calciner.

Mr Blair went on to say, “We anticipate that by using PSP, over 7 000 t of coal will be replaced, and our carbon footprint will be reduced by the equivalent of taking 11 500 cars off the road.”

The company’s drive towards alternative fuel use is one of the spearheads of their strategy to cut costs by €1300 million by 2015

Adapted from press release by Jack Davidson.

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