Heidelberg Cement has announced intentions to eliminate carbon emissions from a Swedish facility in an effort to decarbonize one of the world’s most polluting sectors.
Cement manufacturing contributes significantly to atmospheric carbon, partly due to the energy required to make the material, but primarily due to the way limestone is processed.
The rock is crushed and burnt to remove calcium, which is the binding agent and primary component in cement, while the undesirable carbon is discharged into the atmosphere.
Globally cement is the source of about 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The renovation plans will upgrade Sweden’s 2nd largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
This upgrade will save 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 per year and the projected upgrade is set to be completed by 2030.
According to the company the exact method used to collect the pollutants is not yet chosen as there are numerous possible technology suppliers to be evaluated first.
But they have ensured that it will use “amine technology” which is a chemical compound that absorb CO2 from gases.
The amine gas treatment process uses aqueous solutions of various alkylamines (known as amines) to dissolve and remove hydrogen sulfide and CO2 from the refinery sour gases.
Although the technique is costly and cannot currently remove 100% of emissions from industry flues, amine methods are used to scrub carbon from manufacturing flues.
Once caught, the CO2 will be buried beneath the North Sea in holes produced by fossil fuel extraction. In a sense the carbon being returned to the same place hydrocarbons were extracted by various oil and gas projects.
Carbon capture and storage refers to the technique of collecting carbon and burying it underground (CCS). Unlike CCS projects that collect carbon from the atmosphere, however, the project will not immediately result in a net reduction in atmospheric CO2.
The facility will continue to be fueled primarily by fossil fuels, implying that the CCS process, if successful, will instead prevent additional emissions from entering the atmosphere.
The project has the potential to be carbon negative since the factory would receive a portion of its energy from burning biomass, which includes carbon that plants have taken from the atmosphere via photosynthesis.
The factory, which provides three-quarters of Sweden’s cement, was scheduled to be upgraded by 2030.
This project follows another carbon-reduction initiative at a Heidelberg Cement factory in Norway, which will serve as a model for the Swedish operation.
Work is currently underway at the first plant to convert the plant using amine technology to capture 400,000 tonnes, or half of the facility’s emissions, beginning in 2024.