VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, in cooperation with business partners Finnsementti, Nordkalk, and UPM, has developed a new process that could significantly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with cement and quicklime production.

According to VTT, cement is responsible for about 7% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. The new process would incorporate a gas-tight, electrical-heated rotary kiln, which would utilize low-emission electricity, rather than combustion, to decompose calcium carbonate and capture the carbon dioxide produced in the process.

The Decarbonate project involved the construction of a 39-foot prototype kiln to test the precalcination of the raw powder used in cement, as well as the production of quicklime and lime mud. VTT envisions the use of the electric kiln to reduce emissions across a variety of heavy industries, including battery and asphalt production—as well as produce a new product, purified carbon dioxide.

“Replacing combustion processes with electricity-based solutions and significantly increasing emission-free electricity production is an effective means of curbing climate change. With this technology, the pure carbon dioxide from the limestone can be captured and then either stored or utilized in, for example, the manufacture of low-emission products,” says Eemeli Tsupari, project manager and principal scientist at VTT. “There is already a market for carbon dioxide as a gas used in the production process, and a number of potential uses are being developed that would massively increase the scale of its use.”