Hanson Cement has hosted a demonstration of how hydrogen fuel can be used to produce cement.
The government-backed decarbonisation project, which took place in Hanson’s Ribblesdale plant in Lancashire, shows how energy-intensive cement production might not need to rely on fossil fuels such as coal and gas.
During the demonstration, the proportion of fuels in the cement kiln’s main burner was gradually increased to a wholly net-zero mix.
At a 100% net-zero mix, the proportion of fuels in the cement kiln comprised approximately 39% hydrogen, 12% meat and bone meal (MBM), and 49% glycerine – by-products from the rendering and biodiesel industries.
The trial used ‘grey’ hydrogen (generated from natural gas or methane through a process called ‘steam reforming’) as a proof of concept, but this could be substituted for ‘green’ hydrogen in future.
If implemented across the whole kiln system at Ribblesdale, nearly 180,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide could be saved each year, Hanson said.
The trail was conducted under the oversight of the Mineral Products Association (MPA).
Richard Leese, MPA’s Industrial Policy, Energy, and Climate Change director, said: “Our sector is committed to advancing groundbreaking collaborative research and innovation to meet the industry’s climate change objectives.
“This world-first trial has demonstrated the potential of using net-zero fuel mixes for the manufacture of cement at commercial scale.
“Building on the significant steps our members have already taken through the use of waste-derived fuels, in the future we envisage that combining the use of net-zero fuels with carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS) technology will enable the production of cement to capture more CO2 than it emits.”
Iain Walpole, Hanson UK’s Environmental Sustainability manager, who managed the project, said: “The results of the trial are exciting, and the prospect of using hydrogen in the fuel mix will help us, and others in the sector, on the road to net-zero carbon.
“It will also contribute to our ambition of supplying net-zero carbon concrete by 2050.”
The £3.2m project was funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of its industrial fuel-switching competition.
Image: Joseph Brent/Shutterstock
Read next: Former Rolls-Royce chief digital officer joins Costain
Are you a building professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.