The global cement industry produces over four billion tonnes annually. In recent years, the quest for increasing energy efficiency has led this industry to test and use “waste” materials as alternative fuels (AF). The objective of this study was to examine the use, as alternative fuel, of the shredded non-recycled plastics and paper residue (NRPP) of a materials recovery facility at the Balcones plant in San Antonio, Texas; this material has a Lower Heating Value (LHV) of about 17 MJ/kg and is called “engineered fuel” (EF). The results showed that EF consists of mostly paper fiber, a biogenic material, so its use helps to decrease CO2 emissions from cement production. In the US, on an average about 4.3 MJ of thermal energy are used to dry, decompose, and sinter the carbonate minerals to produce one kg of “clinker” that is then ground to cement powder and mixed with other compounds. If the maximum amount of EF that can be used by the U.S. cement industry (83 million tonnes of cement per year) were to be separated at Material Recovery Facilities and used as alternative fuel in cement kilns, the diversion of non-recycled paper and plastics from landfills would amount to 17.7 million tonnes of EF. The general methodology used for the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is Eco-indicators 99 that uses the SimaPro database and four scenarios were assessed. The corresponding chemical structure of the EF was calculated and the associated emissions during combustion were determined. The laboratory analyses determined the average makeup of the sampled fuels consisted of 20% fossil based carbon and 80% biogenic. The use of EF in the cement industry reduces greenhouse gas emission by up to 3 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of EF used in place of a high-quality coal. The study also found that use of EF in cement production has no adverse effect on the stack emissions of cement plants, nor on the quality of cement produced. The mercury concentration in the stack gas of U.S. cement kilns is well below the U.S. standard and the total dioxin emissions of all cement plants amount to only 0.05% of the dioxins emitted by all U.S. sources. Furthermore, the cement process incorporates the residual ash in the EF into the final clinker, thus resulting in both energy and materials recovery.
Journal of Cleaner Production – Elsevier
Published: Apr 20, 2018
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