Cement is everywhere. The industry is turning to carbon capture to curb emissions, and it's not alone

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Cement is ubiquitous, but the process of making it emits c into the atmosphere. The manufacture says there's nary casual mode to debar that, which is wherefore it's turning to c seizure and retention exertion arsenic a mode to decarbonize.

Cement and different ‘hard-to-abate’ industries spot exertion arsenic emissions fix

Paula Duhatschek · CBC News

· Posted: Sep 16, 2023 4:00 AM EDT | Last Updated: 4 hours ago

A portion   of concern   instrumentality  is pictured being installed astatine  a cement works  successful  Brevik, Norway.

A portion of c seizure instrumentality is pictured being installed astatine a Heidelberg cement works successful Brevik, Norway. This instrumentality and task is scheduled to beryllium up and moving successful 2024 and is expected to seizure 400,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. (Submitted by David Perkins)

For amended oregon worse, factual is everywhere. As the second-most consumed worldly successful the world, it's successful the roads you thrust on, the instauration of your location and, oftentimes, the walls of the bureau gathering that surrounds you. 

The occupation is, making factual besides pumps c dioxide into the atmosphere. Cement, a cardinal constituent successful concrete, is the world's second-largest concern CO2 emitter and is liable for astir 7 per cent of carbon emissions globally and 1.4 per cent of Canada's. 

But cutting down connected those emissions is hard to do. Most of the c generated done cement making comes from the cardinal process of heating crushed limestone (calcium carbonate), clay and soil astatine highly precocious temperatures successful a kiln until it forms tiny nodules called clinker, which is past ground into cement.

"Since Roman times, this is however it's been done," said Corwyn Bruce, a task manager with Heidelberg Materials, a German multinational institution that makes cement, aggregate and different gathering materials.

"The c is inherent," said Bruce, who heads up Heidelberg's Edmonton-based c seizure and retention project. "It's virtually portion of the chemistry."

A antheral   with glasses, a achromatic  overgarment   and greenish  garment  smiles successful  beforehand   of a poster show  for Heidelberg Materials astatine  the Edmonton Convention Centre.

Corwyn Bruce is task manager for the Edmonton CCUS task for Heidelberg Materials. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Enter c seizure and retention (CCS).

The technology, which has lately generated tons of buzz wrong the oilpatch, is besides progressively being seen arsenic a remedy for alleged "hard-to-abate" industries — similar cement, robust and steel accumulation — wherever overmuch of the carbon dioxide emissions are created done process reactions and can't beryllium eliminated by switching to renewable fuels.

Power plants and fertilizer plants are among different sectors besides turning to the technology.

While CCS exertion has its limitations — successful particular, the geology of wherever projects are located — the fig of CCS projects is connected the emergence arsenic companies look for ways to decarbonize wherever nary different casual enactment is available. 

Projects underway

At Heidelberg and Lafarge — 2 of the world's starring cement manufacturers — enactment is good underway to wed cement accumulation with c seizure technology.

Heidelberg has 9 c seizure and retention projects planned crossed North America, Europe and the U.K. The archetypal 2 expected to travel online are successful Edmonton and Brevik, Norway. 

This photograph  shows a rendering of Heidelberg's full-scale c  seizure  works  successful  Edmonton.

This photograph shows a rendering of Heidelberg's full-scale c seizure works successful Edmonton. The task has an estimated commissioning day successful precocious 2026. (Submitted by David Perkins)

The Brevik works is expected to seizure astir 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, astir 50 per cent of the plant's emissions, portion the company's Edmonton works is expected to seizure 95 per cent.

That's mostly due to the fact that of the geology of each location. In Brevik, c has to beryllium refrigerated, liquified, enactment connected a vessel and sailed astir a fjord to beryllium stored nether the North Sea.

In Alberta, by contrast, "all we person to bash is enactment it into a pipeline and nonstop it to a retention field," said Bruce.

Lafarge, for its part, has c seizure projects underway astatine some of its cement plants successful Western Canada. A detailed feasibility survey is underway astatine its plant successful Exshaw, Alta., and it has a carbon seizure objection task astatine its plant successful Richmond, B.C.

A cement works  is seen successful  Exshaw, Alta.

The Lafarge cement works successful Exshaw, Alta., wherever a elaborate feasibility survey connected c seizure and retention exertion is underway. (Submitted by Stephanie Voysey)

Here again, geology makes a difference. 

The Exshaw works is expected to seizure 1 cardinal tonnes of CO2 per twelvemonth and sequester it wrong the Bow Valley, whereas the Richmond plant is readying to reuse its captured c for different purposes.

"The sequestration of CO2 successful Southern B.C. is little known and much enactment needs to beryllium done earlier we tin determination guardant with it," said Stephanie Voysey, Lafarge's caput of sustainability and situation for Western Canada.

In May, the company announced a caller signifier of its B.C. demonstration that volition see captured carbon used to marque synthetic hydrocarbons, which are successful crook utilized for plastics, lubricants and cosmetics. 

A cement works  successful  Richmond, B.C.

The Lafarge cement works successful Richmond, B.C., is readying to reuse its captured c to marque synthetic hydrocarbons, which are successful crook utilized for plastics, lubricants and cosmetics. (Submitted by Stephanie Voysey)

Outside the cement industry, the Canadian alloy assemblage is besides looking astatine c capture arsenic an enactment to assistance decarbonize its operations.

That industry, however, is mostly concentrated successful Ontario, which has lone recently opened the doorway to allowing c seizure and storage, and there's inactive immoderate uncertainty astir wherever that c would beryllium stored. 

"It's not conscionable a question for the alloy sector, but the larger manufacturing assemblage … 'Where is the sequestration?'" said Chad Cathcart, manager of probe for Hamilton-based Stelco, speaking connected a sheet astatine a c seizure league successful Edmonton this week.

Renewable fuels, reducing clinker

Aside from location, determination are different factors that tin marque oregon interruption a c seizure project. 

Even successful prime-geology Alberta, CCS projects tin beryllium expensive, instrumentality a long clip to build and tin beryllium hindered by factors similar labour availability, financing and authorities policy.

The factual and cement manufacture truthful isn't relying connected c seizure unsocial to conscionable its net-zero targets.

A antheral   wearing a agleam  orangish  jumpsuit with reflective bands lets cement clinker from a conveyer loop  travel  implicit    his gloved hand.

A technician controls the prime of cement clinker astatine a works successful Spay, France, successful 2013. Clinker is the substance that results erstwhile crushed limestone, clay and soil is heated astatine highly precocious temperatures successful a kiln. The nodules are past crushed into cement. (Jean-François Monier/AFP/Getty Images)

According to the Cement Association of Canada, companies are also eliminating the usage of ember and coke arsenic vigor sources, ramping up the usage of alternate fuels and reducing the usage of clinker.

Still, the association noted that contempt the limitations, CCS remains the lone exertion that tin destruct the sector's process emissions. 

"We don't get to zero without it," the relation wrote successful its net-zero enactment plan.

"Together with bioenergy, cleanable fuels, and c uptake, [carbon capture] could effect successful the aboriginal transportation of carbon-negative factual for our world." 

Stephanie Voysey, Lafarge's caput of sustainability and situation for Western Canada, agrees.

A pistillate   successful  a achromatic  formal  poses successful  beforehand   of a "Carbon Capture Canada" poster astatine  the Edmonton Convention Centre.

Stephanie Voysey, caput of sustainability and situation for Western Canada with Lafarge, says decarbonizing the process of making cement is captious due to the fact that it's specified a ubiquitous gathering material. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Given however ubiquitous cement is, she noted, it's important to fig retired a mode to decarbonize it — and the champion mode to bash that, astatine this point, appears to beryllium CCS.

"We are not going to halt utilizing cement, we're not going to halt utilizing concrete," she said. "This is the adjacent measurement successful our innovation successful bid to scope nett zero."


Paula Duhatschek is simply a newsman with CBC Calgary who antecedently worked for CBC News successful Kitchener and successful London, Ont. You tin scope her astatine [email protected].

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