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Decarbonization of Cement Production in a Hydrogen Economy


The transition to net-zero emission energy systems creates synergistic opportunities across sectors. For example, fuel hydrogen production from water electrolysis generates by-product oxygen that could be used to reduce the cost of carbon capture and storage (CCS) essential in the decarbonization of clinker production in cement making. To assess this opportunity, a techno-economic assessment was carried out for the production of clinker using oxy-combustion in a natural gas-fueled plant coupled to CCS. Material and energy flows were assessed in a reference case for clinker production (oxygen from air, no CCS), and compared to oxy-combustion clinker production from either an air separation unit (ASU, 95% O2), or water electrolysis (100% O2), both coupled to CCS. Compared to the reference, air-combusted clinker plant, oxy-combustion increases thermal energy demand by 7% and electricity demand by 137% for ASU and 67% for electrolytic oxygen. The levelized cost of oxygen supply ranges from $49/tO2 for an on-site ASU to pipelined electrolytic O2 at $35/tO2 (200 km) or $13/t O2 (20 km). The cost of clinker for the reference plant without CCS increases linearly from $84/t clinker to $193/t clinker at a carbon price of $0/tCO2 to $150/tCO2, respectively. With oxy-combustion and CCS, the clinker production cost ranges from $119 to $122/t clinker, reflecting a breakeven carbon price of $39 to $53/tCO2 compared to the reference case. The lower cost for the electrolytic supply of by-product oxygen compared to ASU oxygen must be balanced against the reliability of supply, the pipeline transport distance and the charges that may be added by the hydrogen producer.

Funding source: The authors are grateful for the financial support of LafargeHolcim Inc, the Transition Accelerator, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Grant: CRDPJ/500478-2016).
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Canada

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