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Comment Sustainability

Reducing the carbon footprint of quicklime production

By Gerald Ondrey |

Decomposing limestone (CaCO3) into quicklime (burnt limestone; CaO) releases significant CO2 emissions, both from the combustion of fuel needed to heat the kiln to temperatures over 1,000°C, and by the release of CO2 from the reaction itself (CaCO3 → CaO + CO2). Because quicklime is a key ingredient in the production of cement, as well as being used in steel, pulp-and-paper and other industries, efforts are underway to reduce the carbon footprint of this operation. One such effort is the 30-month Decarbonate project that is scheduled to be completed in March. Led by the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT; Espoo, Finland; www.vttresearch.com) with nearly a dozen industrial partners (see diagram), the Decarbonate project involves the construction of a 12-m, 300-kWe electrically heated rotary kiln to perform precalcination of raw powders for cement, and the production of both quicklime and “lime mud” that is used in pulp mills. Because the kiln is gas-tight, the CO2 released from limestone is nearly pure, so it can either be stored or utilized to make other products. For example, one part of the project will study the conversion of CO2 and H2 into low-carbon gases and Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) liquids. For this step, the H2…
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