New cement partnership to eliminate fossil fuels by electrifying clay calcination
To further decarbonise the cement industry, FLSmidth and a series of leading industry experts have formed a new partnership called ECoClayTM. To reduce CO2 emissions from cement production by up to 50%, the ECoClay partners will develop and commercialise the technology needed to replace fossil fuels in the calcination of clay by fully electrifying the process.
The use of calcined clay to replace traditional, limestone-based clinker in final cement products is essential in drastically reducing the massive environmental footprint from conventional cement production, which today accounts for approximately 7-8% of the world’s CO2 emission.
Current clay calcination processes have gained momentum in recent years – especially with FLSmidth’s flash calciner system, producing a highly reactive clay, which allows cement producers to replace up to 30% of the limestone-based clinker, resulting in up to 40% lower CO2 emissions per tonne of cement produced. By electrifying the clay calcination process preferably from renewable sources and thereby eliminating the use of fossil fuels to drive the activation reaction, the ECoClay partnership expects to further reduce emissions by 10% at more uniform conditions that allow processing of a broader range of raw clays.
Led by FLSmidth, the global ECoClay partners include the Danish Technological Institute, US-based industrial heating expert Rondo Energy, cement producers VICAT from France and Colombian Cementos Argos, and the Technical University of Denmark. The project is partly funded by the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP) under the Danish Energy Agency.
Based on the shared research and tests on high-temperature electric heat generation, storage solutions and renewable grid integration, the ECoClay partnership will build a pilot plant at FLSmidth’s R&D Center in Denmark. The consortium will seek to demonstrate how the ECoClay process is superior to the conventional combustion processes, has a smaller physical footprint on site and significantly lowers emissions of air pollutants.
According to the project plan, the ECoClay partners expect to be able to commence construction of the first full-scale electric clay calcination installation by the end of 2025.