German cement manufacturers are already contributing significantly to the reduction of CO2 emissions by optimising their plants, using alternative fuels and developing clin-ker-efficient cements. Any efforts to reduce CO2 in cement production meet their limits, however, as the raw materials’ properties produce process emissions during limestone decarbonation. Current technologies are not capable of reducing these. For this reason the cement industry has for many years now been conducting extensive research on novel CO2 abatement methods. One promising approach is what is referred to as carbon capture, which enables the extraction of CO2 in the stacks of the rotary kilns of cement plants and its subsequent storage over long periods (carbon capture and storage – CCS), or its utilisation elsewhere (carbon capture and utilisation – CCU).
Under the aegies of the European Cement Research Academy (ECRA) and in collaboration with German cement manufacturers and VDZ, this research has succeeded in advancing what is known as oxyfuel technology to a level which now allows this process to be tested at industrial scale in the cement industry in two locations in Europe. However, the industry is now in search of additional external funding. With no suitable existing scheme in place, cement manufacturers are now turning their hopes towards the EU innovation fund, which is to be set up by 2019 or 2020. Introducing this kind of ‘breakthrough’ technology at a wider scale throughout the industry will also require the establishment of an international regulatory framework. Otherwise it could jeopardise the competitiveness of domestic cement manufacturers or lead to undesirable carbon leakage effects in the long term.