Decarbonising Asia

Published 03 August 2021

Cemtech welcomed attendees to its annual Asia meeting, held as a virtual event, between 21-24 June 2021, which considered the technologies and processes required to advance the region’s transition to low-carbon cement manufacturing.

Cemtech Asia offered four days of expert presentations

Cemtech Asia 2021 was held between 21-24 June 2021 and focussed on ‘Asia’s transition to a low-carbon future’. Over the course of five sessions, regional cement producers, market analysts and manufacturing experts explored best practice and the successful implementation of low-carbon technologies.

Route to net zero

The first session began with a keynote presentation delivered by Raju Goyal, CTO of UltraTech Cement (India), who reviewed the company’s journey towards decarbonisation. Against a FY06 base level, the company has cut carbon emissions by 21.5 per cent. It is also planning to further digitalise and optimise its operations, as well as increase its usage of green energy sources (34 per cent of power will be from waste heat recovery and renewable energy by FY24) and of waste fuel to meet its ambitious decarbonisation targets.

Hiroyuki Egawa, senior manager of International Business at Taiheiyo Cement (Japan), presented the company’s strategy to begin shifting its asset portfolio from eastern Asia (China, South Korea) to southeast Asia (Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines). The company is looking to move out of saturated and mature markets into emerging markets with rising populations and a growing GDP. In addition, Mr Egawa set out Taiheiyo’s innovation scenario where new technologies could help the business reach an 80 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions intensity by 2050.

Kåre Helge Karstensen of SINTEF (Norway) looked at how the Asian cement industry can contribute to the reduction of plastic waste in the ocean via the OPTOCE project, which considers how energy-intensive industries can increase treatment capacity for non-recyclable waste. The countries involved in OPTOCE (China, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam) are some of the highest plastic consumers, generating around 64Mta of plastic waste.

Bruno Fux, INSEE Ecocycle/Siam City Cement (Vietnam), continued this thread by looking at the role of biomass in carbon neutrality. While the material is difficult to work with as it is seasonal and competition between potential users is rising, its calorific value and carbon neutrality means it is a highly valuable alternative fuel in regulated carbon markets.

Sumita Marwah, Shell India Markets (India), also noted the trend of increased municipal solid waste and biomass in the fuel mix of cement producers, or a switch to natural gas and away from coal. Among the benefits of natural gas, its carbon intensity is 50 per cent that of petcoke.

A wide array of producers, technology suppliers and cement experts presented at Cemtech

Asia’s cement markets

Session two began with a global market overview from Paul Roger, Exane BNP Paribas (UK), which provided context for the event, updated scenarios and an examination of the industry’s route to net zero. Mr Roger noted the likelihood of a V-shaped recovery for the sector as the surviving cement businesses should see higher profitability, with flat cement volumes and less clinker production.

Elsewhere, Widodo Santoso, chairman of the Indonesian Cement Association, provided a general market outlook for the country, noting that “in 2021, demand will not be as strong as 2019 but will be better than 2020.” Domestic oversupply in the country was also forecast to last until 2026, when it should post a 3-5 per cent growth, according to the chairman.

This was followed by an ASEAN-focussed cement market update delivered by Imran Akram, IA Cement (UK). On the whole, the ASEAN region has underperformed over the last few months and is lagging behind the rest of world. However, Indonesia has seen demand recovery as public works get back on track after postponements in 2020. Elsewhere, Thailand is set to turn the gradual decline in its cement market around in 2021 on the back of a strong housing industry, while the mature market of Malaysia is reportedly a loss-making industry as the local government appetite for infrastructure works is limited and more cement sector consolidation is required. Finally, the Philippines is expected to report a strong recovery driven by housing growth.

Technology for carbon reduction

New manufacturing technology and innovation is required to meet the carbon reduction goals of the Asian cement industry, with carbon capture and storage (CCUS), alternative fuels, energy efficiency and clinker substitution the main areas of potential.

Matthias Mersmann of KHD (Germany) presented the supplier’s offering of solutions targeted at these different areas, including its PYROROTOR® Combustion Reactor, which is suitable for alternative fuels with poor burning properties and can even process whole tyres. For more information, take a look at ICR’s May 2021 issue, p61.

thyssenkrupp’s Luc Rudowski (Germany) highlighted the company’s #greytogreen strategy, which has been designed to target potential areas of carbon reduction. As such, it proposed polysius® activated clay and its polysius® booster mill as part of its clinker substitution offering. Combining the two solutions results in compensating the lost clinker reactivity with activated clay and a loss in early strength with finer grinding.

Laurent Guillot of Chryso (France) outlined the CHRYSO®ICARE technology for additional clinker factor reduction. The strength enhancer can improve mill output at the same time as cutting the clinker factor by four per cent, as in the case of a PPC cement in India, thereby reducing CO2 emissions by 32kg per tonne of cement.

Moving onto energy, Tanaka Toshinori of Kawasaki Heavy Industries (Japan) noted how it has delivered 269 waste heat recovery power generators with a total output of 2871MW – with these projects having a CO2 reduction effect of 15,770,142tpa. Köppern’s Kaushik Ghosh (Germany) also considered the energy savings related to the usage of high-pressure grinding rolls (HPGR), with each kW used in a HPGR amounting to a 2.5kW saving in a ball mill.

Preecha Chokjarearnsuk, Hasle Refractories (Denmark), considered how the complications of using alternative fuels in cement kilns, such as increased sulphate and alkali attacks, can be counteracted by the company’s pre-cast modular lining, which protects against coating problems and unscheduled kiln shutdowns.

Digitalisation and optimisation of logistics and plant operations was considered by Monina Zulueta-Eduria, Axians (Germany). Its VAS system can optimise truck entry to the plant, the weighing process and other procedures related to the loading of cement. Savings come from the reduction of time spent at the plant by trucks and the man hours saved by providing self-service terminals.

Wei Cai of Wacker (Germany) presented its solutions for hydrophobising cement with a silicone compound to improve its durability, particularly in warm and humid locations. Treating cement before its use in a concrete structure is a cost-effective measure which can reduce the risk of alkali silica reactions – preventing threats to the integrity of buildings and structures.

This article was first published in International Cement Review in August 2021.