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 in Alberta. Building from previous research, this multi-partner, multi-site lower carbon fuels project is the most significant of its kind in Canada.
“Our estimates show each 20 per cent 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 at Lafarge.
Eight lower carbon fuels will be researched, including construction renovation/demolition waste, non-recyclable 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.
“Achieving Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement requires all parts of the economy to cut their emissions,” said Ben Israel, an analyst at the Pembina Institute. “With the cement industry contributing nearly five per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it’s encouraging to see Lafarge proactively seeking to reduce their emissions. Using lower carbon fuels in cement manufacturing is a great way to quickly achieve meaningful reductions.”
Air quality and traffic impact studies predict minimal changes with introducing lower carbon fuels at the Exshaw Cement Plant. 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.
“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.
In addition to Lafarge’s support, research funding is being provided by Alberta Innovates, Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). It includes research by Millennium EMS Solutions Ltd., Geocycle, and WSP Global Inc.
In alignment with LafargeHolcim’s 2030 Sustainability Plan, Lafarge aims to replace 30 to 50 per cent of fossil fuel use at its Canadian cement plants with lower carbon fuels by 2020.