Lafarge Exshaw Plant Photo: Lafarge

Lafarge aims to replace 30 to 50% fossil fuel use at Canadian cement plants with lower carbon fuels by 2020

Lafarge Canada Inc. and its partners – University of Calgary, Queen’s University, and Pembina Institute – are conducting a million-dollar study on the environmental benefits of introducing lower carbon fuels at its Exshaw Cement Plant, according to a press release.

Building from previous research, this multi-partner, multi-site lower carbon fuels project is the most significant of its kind in Canada, say the partners.

“Our estimates show each 20 percent incremental replacement of natural gas at the Exshaw Cement Plant with lower carbon fuels could result in the elimination of nearly 75,000 tonnes per year of CO2. This is the equivalent of taking over 16,000 cars off the road annually. While these are preliminary estimates, this research project will assess these figures precisely and in the local context,” said Rob Cumming, environmental director, Lafarge.

Eight lower carbon fuels will be researched, including construction renovation/demolition waste, nonrecyclable plastic, carpets and textiles, shingles, treated wood products, wood products, rubber and tire-derived fuels.

These sources of fuel have been successfully used at other Lafarge cement plants in Canada and around the world.

“This project is an important step forward in understanding the opportunities for reducing GHG emissions at cement plants in Alberta and across Canada. The partnership between industry, two provinces, and the federal government represents an example of the collaborative efforts required to advance lowcarbon innovation,” said Steve MacDonald, CEO, Emissions Reductions Alberta.

Air quality and traffic impact studies predict minimal changes with introducing lower carbon fuels at the Exshaw Cement Plant.

“Lab simulations, environmental studies, economics and logistics reviews are already underway. All research will be finalized by December 2019 with regular updates provided to the neighbouring communities via a Public Advisory Committee,” comments Jim Bachmann, Exshaw plant manager.

Additional research by the partners will measure the environmental components associated with the sourcing, processing and full-scale commercial operation of each lower carbon fuel compared to fossil fuels.

The project will also measure the benefits of diverting materials from landfills and determine optimal points in the cement manufacturing process to inject each fuel.

“Alberta faces a big challenge in transforming to a low carbon economy. My team and I, along with our colleagues from Queen’s University, see this project as an important step in moving cement manufacturing and other thermal industries to lower carbon operations. This project will also enable us to place lower carbon fuel use into a Province-wide context to yield, ultimately, greater economy-wide benefits,” said Joule Bergerson, assistant professor, department of chemical and petroleum engineering, University of Calgary.

In alignment with LafargeHolcim’s 2030 Sustainability Plan, Lafarge says it aims to replace 30 to 50 per cent of fossil fuel use at its Canadian cement plants with lower carbon fuels by 2020.