Lafarge considers plastic for fuel

The Lafarge cement plant in Brookfield wants to burn plastic waste to reduce its dependence on coal.

The company introduced its idea to Colchester County council, Nova Scotia, Canada, Thursday evening and is launching an advertising campaign about it this week.

“Low-carbon fuels like plastics are used all over the world,” Regan Watts, a company spokesman, said of burning non-chlorinated plastic waste in cement-making kilns.

“This is not a new idea from an engineering perspective, but it allows a relatively older plant to modernize in a way that helps the local community, helps the environment and creates jobs. There’s lots of wins there for everyone and we think it’s a great idea.”
Watts said the company will forward paperwork to the provincial Environment Department next week to start its application for a trial permit to burn plastic waste over a two- or three-day period in August.

The plastic would come from construction and demolition waste handled by Halifax C & D Recycling Ltd. that would eventually end up in a landfill site and take hundreds of years to decompose, Watts said.

“We’d be taking demolition plastics, sorting them, cleaning them and shredding them and transporting them to the plant.

“We’d like to replace as much coal as possible at the plant. We know it’s a dirty fossil fuel and we’d like to reduce our environmental footprint.”
Watts said the plant burns about 30,000 tonnes of solid fuel in a year, and 80 per cent of that is coal that comes from Stellarton. If the test is successful and the company applies for a permit to burn plastic waste year-round, it estimates it could eliminate 30 per cent of its coal use.

“In an ideal world we’d run a plant 100 per cent on low-carbon fuels. But practically speaking, we’re not there. We’d be using a mixture of coal and plastic.”

Community consultation is key to the process, Watts said. The company will host an open house July 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.

This is not the Lafarge plant’s first forary into test projects. The company recently completed a pilot project in which it used in its kiln two million litres of twice-treated fracking waste water from the Atlantic Industrial Services holding ponds in Debert.
“The testing of the trial period went as well as could be expected,” Watts said of the sometimes controversial idea of trucking and using fracking waste water.

“All of the water that came into the plant was clean. We tested every single truck and we didn’t have to send a single truck back to AIS. All of the emissions standards were met or exceeded.”

Watts said that pilot, too, was a win-win situation.

We used two million litres of water in our trial, and that’s two million litres of water that was not used from Shortts Lake. Local and provincial government officials have expressed their delight in the fact that we’ve been able to take two million litres of this water and eliminate it.”

He said Lafarge, AIS and the government will have to discuss the possibility of using the remaining 10 million to 12 million litres of waste water in the kiln.

He said that pilot project is an example of how Lafarge listened to the public’s concerns. “We’re an open book and an open door. We made investments in the water process like committing to a stack test. That’s a responsible thing for the company to do.”

In 2010 Lafarge Canada’s Brookfield, Nova Scotia cement plant, a subsidiary of Lafarge North America, developed a new type of blended cement that is expected to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 76,000 tonnes by 2015.   Lafarge then said it woiuld reduce emissions at its Brookfield plant by decreasing the usage rate of clinker by over 20 per cent and replace it with alternate materials of equal performance.
 
“Blended cement is not a new idea, but the fact that the quality of this cement is equivalent to our normal product is revolutionary,” said Scarth MacDonnell, Plant Manager of the Lafarge Brookfield Plant. “This project delivers considerable CO2 emission reductions that are substantial and near-term, and it also stands to affect industry standards and markets across Canada.”

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