USA: Buzzi Unicem trials use of hazardous waste fuel at Cape Girardeau plant

USA: Buzzi Unicem trials use of hazardous waste fuel at Cape Girardeau plant
Published: 23 August 2012


A series of trials is underway at Buzzi Unicem’s Cape Girardeau cement facility in an effort to use more hazardous waste as fuel. The company invested US$1m in the project, aimed at cutting its operating expenses by replacing more of its coal with alternative fuels.

For about 20 years, the company, formerly known as Lonestar Industries, has used hazardous waste as fuel to heat its kiln. In June, its hazardous waste permit was modified by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to allow it to burn the same waste fuel materials in the second chamber of its kiln, lifting the first-chamber restriction.

"This offsets our use of coal approximately pound for pound, thus conserving fossil fuels and safely disposing of waste materials from other industries," said Paul Schell, environmental engineer at Buzzi Unicem.

Cutting fuel costs has been increasingly important in recent years, as the construction industry has slumped due to the economic downturn, forcing many cement plants in the United States to shut down or idle as cement demand faltered, Schell said.

Buzzi must buy its coal, but companies pay Buzzi to dispose of their hazardous waste. "There are savings and revenue generated from the use of the hazardous waste," Schell said.

"The Cape Girardeau plant has been able to continue operating throughout this time without any layoffs in part due to the lower production costs associated with the use of hazardous waste fuel," he said. The company has 172 employees, including 24 at its alternative fuels facility.

Testing has showed that the company can safely burn 250lb per minute of hazardous waste fuel in its calciner, Schell said. That is in addition to the 420lb per minute the company is already permitted to burn in its kiln.