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Development of State of the art fuel mix for UK cement production to test the path for ‘Net Zero

Innovator and industrial partner/s:

Mineral Products Association (MPA), Hanson Cement, Tarmac Cement, VDZ, and Cinar

Expected impact:

If successfully demonstrated to be technically and financially viable and fully implemented across the cement industry, this world first of a kind fuel switching could yield UK emissions savings of 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year at 2018 production rates.

Sectors likely to benefit:

Cement, Construction

Background

This project follows on from an MPA BEIS-funded feasibility study in 2019 which found that a combination of 70% biomass, 20% hydrogen and 10% plasma energy could be used to eliminate fossil fuel CO₂ emissions from cement manufacturing. Fuel switching is an essential ‘lever for change’ in MPAs UK Concrete and Cement Industry Roadmap to Beyond Net Zero.

The innovation

83% of the thermal heat input required to manufacture cement clinker still arises from fossil energy (whether virgin fossil fuels or waste from non-biomass origin). By burning a combination of biomass, hydrogen and plasma energy, cement manufacturers could switch to burning 0% fossil fuel, this has yet to be achieved in the cement industry.

The demonstrations

The project is split between two demonstration sites.

  • Hanson Ribblesdale: A demonstration using hydrogen with biofuel in the kiln’s main burner took place at Hanson Cement’s Ribblesdale plant in Lancashire. The proportion of fuels in the cement kiln’s main burner was gradually increased to a wholly net zero mix The successful trial burned 40% hydrogen with 60% biofuels (Meat and Bone Meal and Glycerine).  
  • Tarmac Tunstead: A demonstration using plasma energy with biofuel in the kiln’s calciner at the Tarmac Tunstead plant in Derbyshire.

This project, supported by £3.2 million in government funding, is a key example of how we are supporting industry to reduce emissions and move away from relying on fossil fuels.

“Fuel switching and developing hydrogen technology will be vital for decarbonising industries such as cement production, and will help us further develop the green infrastructure needed as we drive forward the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution"

Greg Hands, Energy & Climate Change Minister

Funding:

This project was fully funded by BEIS as part of their Industrial Fuel Switching competition which supports innovation in the development of pre-commercial fuel switch and fuel switch enabling technology for the industrial sector.