Panel Measures Cement Industry’s CCUS Infancy, Future

A Portland Cement Association (PCA) panel on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) offered 2024 IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Conference participants updates on process technologies, IRS 45Q Carbon Oxide Sequestration Credits, private or public capital expenditure funding mechanisms, and carbon dioxide emissions management studies or projects for Central Plains Cement Co., Heidelberg Materials North America and Holcim US. 

Heidelberg Materials Vice President, Environment & Sustainability Greg Ronczka reviewed the extensive preliminaries leading to a recent Department of Energy (DOE) action enabling the producer to negotiate a $500 million grant for a carbon capture facility at its recently rebuilt Mitchell, Ind., cement plant. While that figure might seem high, he noted, the grant, along with 45Q credits, amount to about half the investment envisioned for infrastructure to capture, refine and store up to 2 million mtpy of Mitchell Plant CO2 emissions. Even with the prospective DOE capex support and IRS allowances, the $1 billion-plus project “is still a challenge when you look at a long-term business expense,” Ronczka assured.

Joining moderator Dr. Julia Attwood, from left, Sustainable Energy Solutions’ Andrew Baxter, Air Liquide’s Florian Gautier, Sargent & Lundy’s Kevin Lauzze and Heidelberg Materials’ Greg Ronczka.

Panelist Kevin Lauzze of Sargent & Lundy, Chicago-based power and energy engineering specialist and a contractor on early Heidelberg CCS work, noted how the Mitchell site checks key boxes for a viable project: Plant exhaust with high purity CO2; adequate parcel for capturing, processing and delivery equipment; power and water access; and, a CO2 destination. To the latter point, southwest Indiana geological surveys suggest candidate storage area 7,000 ft. directly below the Mitchell plant footprint. 

Sargent & Lundy also participated in a DOE-backed CCS pilot in the works at Eagle Materials’ Central Plains plant in Sugar Creek, Mo. The project will test the cryogenic CO2 capture technology of Salt Lake City-based Sustainable Energy Solutions. Panelist and SES President Andrew Baxter briefed the IEEE-IAC/PCA gathering on the basics of the 30-tpd demonstration at Central Plains. Scheduled for testing later this year, the infrastructure will cool calciner exhaust to isolate and liquify the CO2, then recover energy through heat exchange. 

Rounding out the panel was Florian Gautier, director of Energy Transition for Large Industries at Paris-based Air Liquide. He reflected on his company’s Cryocap processing, where – like Sustainable Energy Solutions’ method – CO2 is cooled and liquified for delivery to storage or industrial use points. He discussed the Cryocap method in relation to a 2021 CCS feasibility study for the Holcim US Ste. Genevieve plant in Missouri. 

Moderating the CCUS Panel was BloombergNEF Industrial Decarbonization Specialist Dr. Julia Attwood, returning to her role from a PCA and Global Cement and Concrete Association panel at 2023 Climate Week New York.

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