Skip to main content

Using carbon capture to innovatively reduce cement industry emissions: a virtual ‘visit’ to LEILAC, Belgium

25 January 2021, 9:40 GMT 2 min read

Earlier this month, over 50 representatives from European and North American state and regional governments took part in a virtual site-visit to the LEILAC1 (Low Emissions Intensity Lime and Cement) project in Lixhe, Belgium, as part of the Under2 Coalition’s Industry Transition Platform.

LEILAC1 - a European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation pilot project - is developing a breakthrough carbon capture technology that will enable both the cement and lime industries to dramatically reduce their CO2 emissions without significant energy or cost.

“By providing a low-cost means of capturing hard-to-abate process CO2 emissions, the LEILAC process has the potential to allow the cement and lime industries to continue to safely operate into a carbon-constrained future with an effective, efficient, safe and environmentally friendly solution.”

Paulo Rocha, Innovation & Sustainability Director, Cimpor

The pilot plant is hosted by HeidelbergCement and the project is designed to carry out fundamental research on the process’s demands and performance, and demonstrate that the technology works sufficiently and robustly in order to begin scale-up planning. 

“LEILAC is one of those famous disruptive technologies that has passed the ‘Valley of Death’ and is becoming a major building block in HeidelbergCement’s carbon neutrality roadmap.”

Jan Theulen, Director Alternative Resources, HeidelbergCement

During the session, participants heard from experts and stakeholders in the LEILAC project, including, from Calix, HeidelbergCement, Cimpor and Lhoist, and were ‘walked’ through the site with the help of drone footage.

Constructing the LEILAC1 Pilot

Why reduce CO2 emissions from cement? 

After water, cement is the most widely used substance on the planet. It’s used in the construction industry to create over 10 billion tonnes of concrete each year. And the production of cement currently accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions. 

By investing in innovative technologies such as carbon capture -  as successfully demonstrated at LEILAC1, that will enable sustainable infrastructure development to continue, while lowering CO2 emissions that were previously thought to be unavoidable - the UN’s Industries, Innovation and Infrastructure Sustainable Development Goal can be met. 

“Once tested in LEILAC and scaled up, Direct Separation should reduce the costs of carbon capture considerably and accelerate the deployment in both industries – enabling society to continue to benefit from this vital product without negatively impacting the environment.”

Ziad Habib, Global Director – Manufacturing Process Innovation, Lhoist

Carbon capture is a strong solution to reducing emissions from cement because the process takes the CO2 from fuel combustion or industrial processes, and either utilises it in commercial products or industrial processes, or stores it permanently, rather than allowing it to be released into the atmosphere.

“The current collective objective facing industry and government is threefold: to maintain economic prosperity, meet cement and lime market demand, while dramatically lowering CO2 emissions. The LEILAC Projects aim to meet that global challenge as quickly as possible.”

Daniel Rennie, General Manager of Europe, Calix

The Industry Transition Platform

The LEILAC1 visit was the first in a series of virtual site-visits for the Industry Transition Platform which aim to provide the opportunity for industries demonstrating climate leadership to showcase their innovations. As well as this, the project participants benefit from gaining insights from the experience, expertise and perspectives of those in innovating within the industrial sector.

The visit initiated a meaningful dialogue by providing supportive collaboration between government and industrial stakeholders, generating different ideas and solutions for the challenges presented. 

The Industry Transition Platform is a joint project of the Climate Group and the German state government of North Rhine Westphalia, funded by Stiftung Mercator. It works with governments from highly industrialised regions to develop strategies to cut industry emissions, while supporting growth, job creation and prosperity.

The LEILAC project team has also developed a case study.

It takes an in depth look at the aims of the project, the results achieved to date, challenges faced, and plans for scale-up.