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The Cleanest Cement Plant in the World: Part 1

Published by
World Cement,

To announce that a cement plant has the lowest emission levels in the world is an extremely bold claim to make. It is not until you arrive at the Kirchdorfer cement plant in Austria that you believe the claim. Kirchdorf an der Krems is a town in the Austrian state of Upper Austria on the river Krems in the district of Kirchdorf an der Krems. The picturesque town is surrounded by seemingly endless green hills that roll into one another. The mountain air is clean and the roads are quiet. At first inspection this scene is not the usual setting for a cement plant. However, the Kirchdorfer plant is in no way usual.

In October 2016, World Cement was invited to the official opening of the DeCONOx plant at Kirchdorfer Cement. On a beautiful sunny day in Kirchdorf, invited guests, some dressed in traditional Austrian attire, gathered outside the new facility to listen to technical explanations and welcoming speeches. The new facility represents another example of Kirchdorfer Cement’s determination to become as environmentally friendly as possible. It is this attitude that parallels so closely with the vision of what a Cement Plant of the Future should be. Throughout the evening it became clear that the company spares no amount of effort or engineering skill when it comes to environmental protection.

Kirchdorfer Cement

Kirchdorfer Cement has produced cement for 127 years and, for many decades, the management of the company has set in place measures to reduce the company’s impact on the environment. One of the primary reasons for this focus was the proximity of the site to the city centre of Kirchdorf an der Krems (600 m). Over the years, the company’s careful and considerate approach to the environment and its resources has become a natural awareness and part of the fabric of the company’s identity. In 2010, the management and the owner announced the primary vision to become the most energy efficient cement plant with the lowest emission level and highest safety standards in Europe.

With the help of a DeCONOx system, a unique facility was installed at the plant for industrial exhaust air purification and heat recovery. The system uses the energy from exhaust air to break down pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides or organic compounds. The residual energy is then recycled back into the production process and decoupled through heat recovery. Waste heat of about 20 GWh/year can therefore be fed into the district-heating grid of EnergieAG Wärme Upper Austria to supply over one thousand households in Kirchdorf and its surroundings.

In 1997 the first pilot clean gas catalyst for the cement industry was placed into operation at Kirchdorf. In the coming years and as the next logical step, special activities and measures were taken in regard to pollutant emissions and air purification. In September 2016, the first large-scale facility for air purification with the new DeCONOx technology was put into operation in the cement plant. The system was developed by the Upper Austrian plant manufacturer, Scheuch.

DeCONOx combines the advantages of a clean gas catalyst and regenerative thermal oxidation (RTO) within one facility. The advantages include the following:

  • Minimal exhaust of nitrogen oxides (NOX), organic carbon compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide (CO).
  • Low operating costs.
  • Low energy demand.

An important part of the corporate vision of Kirchdorfer Cement was to tackle the energy supply of the cement works by steadily decreasing fossil fuel carriers. With the commissioning of the facility, a large part of this vision has come to fruition.

This article first appeared in Cement Plants of the Future. Read the second part of this article here.

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