The European Commission's Horizon 2020 program has granted €12 million to the Low Emissions Intensity Lime and Cement consortium to demonstrate and apply a technology that has the potential to significantly reduce the cement and construction industry's carbon footprint.

Two-thirds of CO2 emissions from the cement and lime sector come from CO2 furnaces and the decomposition of limestone to lime. The newest advance in reducing these emissions is achieved via an overhaul of the existing process flow to allow for the capture of CO2 from the limestone.

Most CO2 emissions from the cement and lime sector come from CO2 furnaces and the decomposition of limestone to lime. Image credit: Pixabay.Most CO2 emissions from the cement and lime sector come from CO2 furnaces and the decomposition of limestone to lime. Image credit: Pixabay.The new technology is based on separating the furnace exhaust gases from the limestone by heating it indirectly in a special steel vessel. The energy from the furnace gases is transferred through the vessel to the limestone, resulting in the release of almost pure CO2, which can then be captured with few additional costs or energy requirements. The technology was inspired by and is complementary with existing carbon-capture methods from the energy and cement sectors.

In the first three years of the project, a demonstration plant design will be constructed at the Heidelberg Cement plant, in Lixhe, Belgium. This high-temperature direct separation calciner pilot unit will undergo a further two years of testing in a typical operating environment to prove its efficacy.

Researchers led by Professor Paul Fennell, of Imperial College London's Department of Chemical Engineering, will focus on the fundamental process demands and performance to demonstrate that the process works well enough to be scaled to an industrial level for full operational use.

Project results will be shared with the industry at key intervals during testing.

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