Home » Work begins on world-first carbon neutral cement plant

Work begins on world-first carbon neutral cement plant

by Mark Cantrell
Federal and regional government ministers in Germany joined business leaders from Holcim to take part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the world's first carbon neutral cement plant.

Federal and regional government ministers in Germany joined business leaders from Holcim to take part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the world’s first carbon neutral cement plant.

Vice-chancellor and federal minister for economics, Dr Robert Habeck, and the minister president of Schleswig-Holstein, Daniel Günther joined Holcim Germany’s chief executive, Thorsten Hahn to get the Carbon2Business innovation project underway.

By 2028, the site in Lägerdorf will be home to a cement plant that uses a new technology to capture CO2 on an industrial scale. It’s claimed this will enable the greenhouse gas to be almost completely captured from the exhaust air. The CO2 will then be processed for use as a raw material in industry.

To this end, Holcim Germany is building a new kiln line using pure oxygen to burn cement clinker and a CO2 processing unit at the Lägerdorf plant. With this technology, Holcim and its project partners thyssenkrupp Polysius and Linde Engineering say they are advancing CO2 capture on an industrial scale and contributing to the development of a CO2 economy in Germany.

Habeck said: “The cement industry is facing a particularly big challenge when it comes to decarbonisation. Here in Lägerdorf, it is shown how it can be done: Decarbonising production and boldly implementing climate-neutral production of cement and concrete. The fact that carbon dioxide can not only be captured, but also used as a raw material, is a prime example of green transformation.”

Günther added: “[W]e are giving the go-ahead for another innovative German industrial project. The prototype for the decarbonisation of the cement industry will be built on an industrial scale in Lägerdorf. This shows once again that the future is climate-neutral. And this future begins here in Schleswig-Holstein, the number one state for energy transition.”

Holcim’s Hahn said: “We’re laying the groundwork for a sustainable world through cement. Cement is essential for our cities, factories, homes, bridges, and beyond. As we transition towards renewable energy, we must also construct the foundations and structures for wind turbines and railway tracks. With our climate-neutral cement plant, we ensure that this vital building material remains accessible without further harm to the atmosphere.”

Carbon dioxide emissions are an inherent part of cement production. The burning process releases the majority of CO2, approximately two-thirds, from the minerals themselves. Even with the use of renewable energy in operating the cement kiln, these emissions persist.

Hahn added: “Through this groundbreaking project, we’re fostering sustainable prosperity. By capturing and repurposing CO2 as a valuable raw material, we’re mitigating climate impact and facilitating the development of new value chains.”

In Lägerdorf, Holcim – alongside project partners thyssenkrupp Polysius and Linde Engineering – is erecting a second-generation oxyfuel kiln and a CO2 Processing Unit (CPU). Unlike conventional methods, this kiln will use pure oxygen instead of ambient air, yielding a process gas enriched with CO2.

Waste as raw material

Subsequently, this gas undergoes purification and processing within the CPU. Holcim Germany’s investment in this climate-neutral cement plant totals in the mid three-digit million euro range, the company says. Additionally, the EU is providing funding support to the tune of approximately €110m for the project.

Carbon is an important raw material for sectors such as the chemical industry, where it is used to make plastics, tyres, speciality chemicals and medicines. Due to climate protection measures and the phase-out of fossil fuels, the industry will need new sources in the future. It is argued that captured and processed CO2 (Carbon Capture and Utilisation/CCU) can fill this gap.

According to Holcim, the successful development of this market “necessitates adequate infrastructure”, encompassing pipelines, intermediate storage facilities, and transshipment hubs for shipping, alongside legal regulations for transportation.

Hahn said: “The German government and the EU are addressing these issues in their carbon management strategies. As a partner, we stand ready to collaborate with policymakers to propel Germany’s CO2 economy forward.”

Main image: (Left to right) Thorsten Hahn, Dr. Robert Habeck, Daniel Günther, Dr. Cetin Nazikkol, Andreas X Müller. Credit Holcim


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