Lafarge Canada assists universities with research on lowering carbon fuels

Kerry Clines

January 16, 2018

Photo of Lafarge Exshaw Cement Plant
Lafarge Exshaw Cement Plant.

Lafarge Canada Inc., with assistance from the University of Calgary, Queen’s University, and Pembina Institute, is conducting a study on the environmental benefits of introducing lower carbon fuels at its Exshaw Cement Plant. In keeping with LafargeHolcim’s 2030 Sustainability Plan, Lafarge plans to replace 30 to 50 percent of its fossil fuel use with lower carbon fuels at Canadian cement plants by 2020.

“Our estimates show each 20 percent incremental replacement of natural gas at the Exshaw Cement Plant with lower carbon fuels could result in the elimination of nearly 75,000 tonnes per year of CO2,” says Rob Cumming, Environmental Director, Lafarge, in a press release. “This is the equivalent of taking over 16,000 cars off the road annually. While these are preliminary estimates, this research project will assess these figures precisely and in the local context.”

Eight lower carbon fuels will be researched, including construction renovation/demolition waste, non-recyclable plastic, carpets and textiles, shingles, treated wood products, wood products, rubber, and tire derived fuels. All of which have been used successfully at other Lafarge cement plants. Air quality and traffic impact studies predict minimal changes at the plant.

Research will measure the environmental components associated with the sourcing, processing, and full-scale commercial operation of each lower carbon fuel compared to fossil fuels. It will also measure the benefits of diverting materials from landfills and determine where to inject each fuel in the cement manufacturing process.

“Lab simulations, environmental studies, economics, and logistics reviews are already underway,” says Jim Bachmann, Exshaw Cement Plant manager. “All research will be finalized by December 2019 with regular updates provided to the neighboring communities via a Public Advisory Committee.”

Alberta Innovates, Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) are also funding the research, which will also be carried out by Millennium EMS Solutions Ltd., Geocycle, and WSP Global Inc. 

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“This project is an important step forward in understanding the opportunities for reducing GHG emissions at cement plants in Alberta and across Canada,” says Steve MacDonald, CEO, Emissions Reductions Alberta, in the press release. “The partnership between industry, two provinces, and the federal government represents an example of the collaborative efforts required to advance low carbon innovation.”

“Alberta faces a big challenge in transforming to a low carbon economy,” says Joule Bergerson, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary, in the press release. “My team and I, along with our colleagues from Queen’s University, see this project as an important step in moving cement manufacturing and other thermal industries to lower carbon operations. This project will also enable us to place lower carbon fuel use into a Province-wide context to yield, ultimately, greater economy-wide benefits.”

“Lowering carbon emissions is important for both Ontario and the world’s future sustainability, and this collaborative research effort is a major step towards that goal,” says Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, Government of Ontario, in the press release. “Our government is proud to support it through the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and I look forward to seeing the results of this initiative.”

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