Impact of fuel selection on the environmental performance of post-combustion calcium looping applied to a cement plant

Wouter Schakel, Christine Roxanne Hung, Lars-Andre Tokheim, Anders Hammer Strømman, Ernst Worrell, Andrea Ramírez

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Calcium looping CO2 capture is a promising technology to reduce CO2 emissions from cement production. Coal has been seen as a logical choice of fuel to drive the calcium looping process as coal is already the primary fuel used to produce cement. This study assesses the impact of using different fuels, namely coal, natural gas, woody biomass and a fuel mix (50% coal, 25% biomass and 25% animal meal), on the environmental performance of tail-end calcium looping applied to the clinker production at a cement plant in North-western Europe. Process modelling was applied to determine the impact of the different fuels on the mass and energy balance of the process which were subsequently used to carry out a life cycle assessment to evaluate the environmental performance of the different systems. Using natural gas, biomass or a fuel mix instead of coal in a tail-end calcium looping process can improve the efficiency of the process, as it decreases fuel, limestone and electricity consumption. Consequently, while coal-fired calcium looping can reduce the global warming potential (life cycle CO2 emissions) of clinker production by 75%, the use of natural gas further decreases these emissions (reduction of 86%) and biomass use could results in an almost carbon neutral (reduction of 95% in the fuel mix case) or net negative process (−104% reduction in the biomass case). Furthermore, replacing coal with natural gas or biomass reduces most other environmental impact categories as well, mostly due to avoided impacts from coal production. The level of improvement strongly depends on whether spent sorbent can be utilized in clinker production, and to what extent sequestered biogenic CO2 can reduce global warming potential. Overall, the results illustrate the potential of using alternative fuels to improve the environmental performance of tail-end calcium looping in the cement industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-87
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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