Buzzi Unicem will invest more than US$1.5m in upgrades to its Cape Girardeau cement plant in Missouri if changes to its hazardous waste permit are approved.
During an informational meeting Wednesday, company representatives along with Missouri Department of Natural Resources and EPA officials answered questions about the company’s plans to burn more hazardous waste in the future. About 25 people attended the meeting.
For about 20 years, the company, formerly known as Lonestar Industries, has used hazardous waste – including solvents, used paints and inks – as fuel to heat its kiln.
There are two combustion chambers within its kiln and hazardous waste is used exclusively in the main chamber. The preclaciner is fed with uses coal, but the company would like to begin testing the use of hazardous waste in the calciner, as well.
"Coal is very expensive. It’s a very energy-intensive process. We have to heat materials to 2700˚F, and it takes a lot of coal and energy to do that. If we were not burning hazardous waste, we would be burning close to 500tpa of coal. Right now, we’re able to replace just over 50% of that with hazardous waste. By expanding, that will allow us to burn even less coal," said Paul Schell, environmental engineer at Buzzi Unicem.
By reducing the amount of coal it burns even more, the company will save money, allowing it to operate more cost effectively and preserve jobs, Schell said. It would require an initial investment to convert its facility to use more hazardous waste fuel. About US$1m in upgrades will be required to modify the kiln to burn more hazardous waste, he said. The company also plans to spend about US$500,000 to add a railcar unloading facility with two new wash and storage tanks to allow for cleaning of the railcars.
Currently, all of its hazardous waste fuel is delivered by truck. It comes to Buzzi from off-site manufacturers or third-party hazardous waste blenders.
"There are many benefits to using hazardous waste, " Schell said. "Its emissions are similar to coal and even less than coal on some specific pollutants including sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
"You’re conserving natural resources by not having to burn that coal. You’re also providing a safe and effective way to dispose of the hazardous waste that typically would just go to an incinerator and be burned with no real product, just burned for the sake of burning it. We can capture the energy in those things and keep it out of incinerators and out of landfills," Schell said.
The process Buzzi is proposing isn’t new to Missouri. Continental Cement in Hannibal, Mo, has used the same process successfully for many years.