Successful demonstration of CO2 separation at Project LEILAC in Belgium

This article was first published by the LEILAC project on 30 July 2019

Calix’s world leading carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technology for lime and cement, Project LEILAC (Low Emissions Intensity Lime And Cement), has been commissioned with the consortium announcing the technology concept is operating successfully at Heidelberg Cement’s plant at Lixhe in Belgium.

Project LEILAC has successfully demonstrated separation of CO2 with more than 95% purity, with full design capacity to be tested in the future following rectification of some commissioning issues, normal for a project of this type.

Project LEILAC forms an integral part of the European Union’s target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. To meet the target, the European cement industry will need to deploy carbon capture across 60% of its cement plants.

Calix is the core technology provider for Project LEILAC with its patented Direct Separation technology aiming to enable the efficient capture of the unavoidable process emissions from lime and cement production

Project LEILAC consortium consists of the largest lime and cement companies in the world, including Heidelberg Cement, Lhoist, Cemex, and Tarmac (a CRH company). Calix is the core technology provider and project leader.

The LEILAC Project, based at Heidelberg Cement’s operations in Lixhe, Belgium is a European Union Horizon 2020 (H2020) research and innovation project. The €21m project (~A$33m) has received €12m (~A$19m) of funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. LEILAC is piloting Calix’s breakthrough carbon capture technology, called Direct Separation, that would enable both Europe’s cement and lime industries to reduce their CO2 emissions dramatically without significant energy or capital penalty.

Project LEILAC releases first public update from commissioning and fingerprinting runs

The LEILAC consortium is pleased to provide an update on the project since completion of construction in early May.

Preliminary test runs have been completed on the LEILAC pilot at Heidelberg Cement’s Lixhe plant in Belgium. The technology concept has been shown to work on both lime and cement meal, with calcination near to target levels and high purity CO2 successfully separated at the top of the reactor, albeit not yet at full design capacity.

Commissioning issues, common to engineering projects of this scale and ambition, continue to be streamlined. The initial progress on the commissioning phase will now be followed by test runs until the end of 2020 to de-risk potential longer term issues, such as tube health and process robustness. In parallel, planning has commenced on the next scale-up of the technology, including conceptual design and engaging funding consortia.

Commissioning activities over the past two months have achieved:

Core process:

  • Proven operations with limestone and cement raw meal;
  • Separation of CO2 (>95% purity);
  • Heat transfer from the furnace to the powder in the tube to achieve extents of calcination of more than 85% (although not yet at target design capacity for lime of 95%);
  • Pre-heating of the raw material with hot CO2 gas;
  • Good performance of the reactor and bellows, including rapid ramping between ambient conditions and 1000°C;
  • Demonstration of the benefits of ceramic fibre insulation for lower weight, cost and reduced temperature ramp times.

Supporting Functions:

  • Heat generation in the furnace using high-efficiency, low-NOx burners - maximum duties are still to be achieved but operability and efficiency are as expected;
  • Transport of hot product back to the host plant needs some modifications to reach design capacity;
  • Feeding of raw material to reactor (dosing) – correction of dosing accuracy and pulsing frequency was required.

General operation: The pilot is safe and easy to operate, with no safety incidents.

(Photo: Daniel Rennie, Calix)