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ECRA’s research on carbon capture in the cement industry – part 2

World Cement,

Read part one here.

Storage or reuse?

Whilst the storage of CO2 is a difficult issue in many European countries, the question remains whether CO2 cannot be reused instead of simply stored underground. ECRA has been cooperating with numerous partners for many years, and in 2013 it initiated a dedicated partnership with the University of Mons (UMONS), in which ECRA and UMONS sponsor the ECRA academic chair “From CO2 to energy: CO2 capture and reuse in the cement industry”.

Two PhD theses have in the meantime been assigned. The first thesis was started in 2013 with a focus on “CO2 capture in cement production and re-use: Optimisation of the overall process”. The second began in January 2014 with a focus on “The purification processes applied to CO2 captured from the cement industry for conversion into methane and methanol”. In addition, scientific studies have been carried out by undergraduate students.

On 26 November 2014 the first scientific event of the ECRA Chair was held at UMONS, attended by more than 100 participants from around 20 different countries. Daniel Gauthier, the Chairman of the ECRA Technical Advisory Board, underlined the industry’s view on carbon capture. He pointed out the challenges that the industry faces to further reduce its CO2 emissions. While already existing measures like the increase of energy efficiency or the reduction of the clinker to cement ratio are widely applied and therefore limited in their contribution to further decrease CO2 emissions, many so-called roadmaps see carbon capture as a coming breakthrough technology. For this reason ECRA has addressed the subject of carbon capture with its dedicated research project and has placed a special focus on its technical and economic feasibility. From today’s point of view, carbon capture still remains much too expensive, but ECRA has decided to continue its research and is therefore now preparing the way for an industrial-scale oxyfuel kiln.

The event at UMONS not only addressed ECRA’s carbon capture project. The EU Commission set CCS in the perspective of its research and funding strategy. Contributions on the post-combustion carbon capture project at the Norcem Brevik plant in Norway and current research on carbonate looping at the Politecnico University of Milan also highlighted the potential to capture CO2 in the cement industry. The overall focus on the capture of CO2 and its reuse was underlined by the example of using CO2 as a feedstock in the chemical industry and a systematic approach taking into account the life-cycle analysis including the view on the still lacking political framework.

This is part two of a two-part article originally published in Newsletter 1/2015 of the European Cement Research Academy and is reproduced by kind permission of ECRA.

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