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Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LEILAC (Low Emissions Intensity Lime and Cement) SIGNED

TypeNotDefinedYet (categoryNotDefinedYet), from 2016-01-01 to 2017-03-31

The LEILAC project (Low Emissions Intensity Lime And Cement) will pilot a breakthrough technology that aims to enable Europe’s cement and lime industries to capture their unavoidable process carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for no energy penalty (just compression) and at comparable capital costs to conventional emitting equipment.

A unique consortium of eleven partner organisations has come together to create this ground-breaking carbon capture pilot project. They are: HeidelbergCement Group, CEMEX, Tarmac, Lhoist, Amec Foster Wheeler, Calix Limited, ECN, Imperial College London, PSE, Quantis and The Carbon Trust. This five year project has been funded by the consortium members (€9M) and the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (€12M, grant no. 654465).

The context and challenge:

Cement is one of the most widely used substances on the planet, fulfilling an essential role in providing society’s need for housing and infrastructure. Lime is used in a variety of applications including in the iron & steel, chemical, paper and pharmaceutical industries. Both industries directly employ more than 388,000 people in Europe.

At the same time, both sectors have relatively high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Up to 60 percent of CO2 emissions are released directly and unavoidably from the processing of the raw materials – not from the combustion of fossil fuels. This occurs in both lime and cement manufacture via the following reaction:

CaCO3 (limestone) + heat ---> CaO (lime) + CO2 (carbon dioxide)

In order to reach the EU’s emissions reductions targets by 2050, carbon capture and storage (CCS) will need to be applied to the majority of European cement plants, and LEILAC is uniquely placed to support Europe to achieve these targets in a timely, effective and efficient manner.

The principles of the technology:

The LEILAC project aims to enable the efficient capture of the unavoidable process emissions from lime and cement production.

Calix’s Direct Separation technology re-engineers the existing process flows by indirectly heating the meal. This unique system enables pure CO2 to be captured as it is released from the limestone. This elegant solution requires no additional chemicals or processes. This innovation requires minimal changes to the conventional processes for cement, and simply replaces the calciner.

This design will also work with high levels of alternative fuels, allowing the cement and lime industry to reduce immediately its total emissions even further from that of a conventional coal fired plant without penalty. It also enables the use of carbon capture techniques, which have been already developed by the power sector to be applied to the heating emissions.

The key technological/technical challenges:

Direct Separation has been developed for over eight years by Calix, resulting in its commercial scale demonstration in the magnesite processing industry. However, applying this technology to a cement or lime plant requires research, development and careful engineering – as these materials need to be calcined at much higher temperatures and scale. Cement meal processing, particularly when integrated into a full scale plant, has different properties that add considerable complexity due to potential corrosive effects of certain compounds. The risks therefore being addressed by LEILAC include temperature scale up, fouling, calcination levels and throughput, future scale-up and integration issues, and costs.

The objectives of the pilot:

The LEILAC project involves the construction of a pilot plant at the HeidelbergCement plant in Lixhe, Belgium. Extensive research, development and engineering will be necessary to design and construct the pilot. The objective is to then run the high temperature pilot unit for two years, during which it will undergo extensive testing in a standard operational environment with a variety of extensive tests to see if the technology perform

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The project is following engineering stage gates to ensure the pilot that is technically viable; will fulfil the operational objectives of the overall project; and that it is within the cost constraints of the budget. Since the project commenced in early 2016 a number of initial design evaluation and performance studies have been successfully undertaken for the pilot plant, with the aim of reducing the major scale-up risks.

In October 2016 the project passed its Preliminary Front End Engineering Design. This included an end-to-end design basis that fulfils the required objectives and incorporated the risk mitigation steps identified. The design also includes the required modelling, process flow mapping, mass balance calculations, equipment requirements, constructability, site integration, logistics options and a HAZID review. The exact site of the LEILAC pilot unit within the host plant at HeidelbergCement cement plant at Lixhe, Belgium has also been agreed and tie-in points identified. Vendor assessments were carried out, followed by initial quotations. These were then rationalised and used to build accurate estimate costs.

The project is nearing the completion of its Front End Engineering and Design study, and following the Financial Investment Decision, construction should commence during late 2017. The pilot plant should be ready for operation by 2019 and will be test run for up to 2 years to demonstrate the technology.


The LEILAC pilot unit will run over two years, during which time it will undergo extensive testing in a standard operating environment over a continuous basis for several weeks at a time. The research on the process demands and performance aims to demonstrate that the technology works sufficiently to begin scale-up planning in the cement sector or provide an immediate CO2 capture option for the lime industry. This will significantly advance European industry, by enabling them to capture their unavoidable process emissions at low cost, effectively and at low-risk.

At the conclusion of the project a Cement and Lime industry CCS Roadmap will be developed. This Roadmap will be based on the outcomes of the LEILAC pilot’s construction and testing, full-scale techno-economic study, Life Cycle Analysis, and retrofit report.

This roadmap will explore the timing and opportunities for the widespread roll out of this technology, and a techno-economic evaluation of the technology compared to state of the art emitting and capture technologies. This will be important in informing decision makers and industry of the viability of the widespread deployment of Direct Separation as a means of accelerating the decarbonisation efforts of the industry, based on verified data. Using the European targets for emissions reduction, this should also provide tangible information regarding potential costs for the industry, which has had limited economic deep decarbonisation options until this point.

Return to the LEILAC index page.