Lafarge’s low carbon fuels project to create jobs, reduce emissions, limit landfilling

Lafarge is exploring the environmental benefits of introducing lower carbon fuels at its Exshaw Cement Plant to replace 30 to 50 per cent of fossil fuel use with lower carbon options by 2020. Building off research from four other Canadian facilities, this multi-partner project is the most significant of its kind in Canada.

While Exshaw’s newly-modernized kilns are set up to use natural gas, they can be adapted to burn waste-derived fuels. Lafarge wants to replace 30 to 50 per cent of fossil fuel use at Canadian plants with lower carbon options by 2020. Exshaw’s new Kiln 6 was designed to use up to 80 per cent.

This was one of 11 projects selected for funding from ERA’s Industrial Efficiency Challenge. The total project value is estimated at $28 million; ERA is providing $10 million.

“This project will go a long way in helping us reach our ambitious corporate goal to produce 40 per cent less net CO2 per tonne of cement by 2030. The support from ERA not only helps us move this project forward, but it validates the work done to date,” said Kate Strachan, Plant Manager. “Our hope is that any positive results or lessons learned will encourage others in the cement industry to do the same, giving this investment a greater, far-reaching impact.”

Lafarge is evaluating eight fuel types, each selected based on a study of availability in Alberta: construction renovation and demolition waste, non-recyclable plastic, carpet and textiles, shingles, treated wood products, rubber, and tire fluff. These fuels are currently in use at other cement plants and are expected to reduce emissions, limit landfilling, and create new jobs.

“We’ll need about 150,000 tonnes of lower carbon fuels each year. That will reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill and create around 100 jobs at a Calgary processing facility,” said Strachan.

Research has included a Human Health Risk Assessment, Air Dispersion Modelling, Traffic Impact Assessment, and a Life Cycle Analysis to measure emissions associated with sourcing, processing, and full-scale commercial operation of each lower carbon fuel compared to natural gas.