​Lafarge and partners launch testing to replace natural gas with landfill waste to fuel Exshaw cement plant

Image: Lafarge

Construction waste, non-recyclable plastic, carpets and textiles, wood products and tires – not the materials one would expect to fuel Canada’s largest cement plant.

But that’s exactly what Lafarge and its partners – the University of Calgary, Queen’s University and the Pembina Institute – will test in a new research project at the company’s Exshaw facility, which has been operating at the edge of the Rockies for more than 100 years.

The goal of the million-dollar project is to reduce GHGs, which aligns with the goals of Alberta and Ottawa as well as LafargeHolcim.

"Our estimates show each 20 percent incremental replacement of natural gas at the Exshaw Cement Plant with lower carbon fuels could result in the elimination of nearly 75,000 tonnes per year of CO2. This is the equivalent of taking over 16,000 cars off the road annually. While these are preliminary estimates, this research project will assess these figures precisely and in the local context," Lafarge environmental director Rob Cumming said in a statement.

The project, which builds on previous research, will measure the environmental components associated with the sourcing, processing and full-scale commercial operation of each lower carbon fuel compared to fossil fuels. The project will also measure the benefits of diverting materials from landfills and determine optimal points in the cement manufacturing process to inject each fuel.

All research will be finalized by December 2019.

In addition to Lafarge’s support, research funding is being provided by Alberta Innovates, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Emissions Reduction Alberta, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. It includes research by Millennium EMS Solutions Ltd., Geocycle, and WSP Global Inc.