Learn the latest on the Lower Carbon Fuels (LCF) project

Sep 6, 2018 | Industry Insights, Plant News

Pembina Institute has completed the first stage of the life cycle analysis (LCA) on the use lower carbon fuels in cement production. Benjamin Israel, senior analyst with Pembina and project lead, is working closely with two postdoctoral researchers and Dr. Joule Bergerson, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary.

Israel presented some preliminary findings to the Project Advisory Committee (PAC). While still early in the process, research is showing positive results. Of the eight fuels proposed, only carpet is showing higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than natural gas. Alternative fuels made up of biogenic carbon—as opposed to carbon originated from fossil fuels—show the most potential. These include construction and demolition waste, railway ties, wood and natural textiles; each generating approximately 20 to 30 per cent less emissions per tonne of clinker produced.

“Most lower carbon fuels are all in the same ballpark as natural gas and some of these seem to stand out as real winners,” said Israel.

University of Calgary researchers will evaluate the portion of biogenic emissions that should be accounted for in the LCA. Although biogenic emissions are often deemed neutral in carbon accounting protocols, an emerging body of literature suggests these have material impact on climate change.

The early results are for a complete substitution of lower carbon fuels and assume no blending of the fuels. Once completed, the LCA will evaluate the implications of introducing a mix of lower carbon fuels and fossil fuels. Once a logistical study is complete, Pembina will focus on fuels found in the Calgary area. The LCA will also assess business-as-usual; the cement plant continues to use natural gas and lower carbon fuels are sent to the landfill.

An LCA is a decision-making tool that is used to evaluate the environmental impact of a product, process or service over its complete life cycle. In the case of lower carbon fuels, the LCA will evaluate the emissions associated with the sourcing, processing, and combustion of alternative fuels, typically waste industrial products, compared to natural gas.

Criteria Air Contaminants (CAC) emissions (Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter) will also be examined as a part of the LCA. “We are still gathering data for this, especially emission factors, there is not a lot of literature on this,” Israel said. Other LCF updates presented at the PAC meeting include:

Five Statements of Concern have been filed with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP)

  • Lafarge has responded to 19 supplemental requests from AEP
  • There is no timeline set for a decision
  • Lafarge has applied for grant support from Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) and the National Research Council (NRC)
  • Lafarge Eastern Canada is on track to reduce GHG emissions by 40 per cent by 2019 from 1990 levels; Western Canada expects a 28 per cent reduction by 2020.