HeidelbergCement and partners drive innovative CO2 separation

Apr 05 2020

After very good results from the first phase of the project, the company is starting the further development and scale-up of the LEILAC technology (Low Emissions Intensity Lime And Cement) together with the Australian technology company Calix and a European consortium.

The patented LEILAC process makes it possible to capture high-purity CO2 from cement production via a separate exhaust gas stream and to utilize it for other purposes. Two-thirds of the CO2 emissions of a cement plant are process-related emissions generated during the heating of limestone and are therefore unavoidable.

The LEILAC-2 demonstration plant will be a four-fold scale-up of the LEILAC-1 pilot plant, currently undergoing operational testing at HeidelbergCement’s Lixhe cement production facility in Belgium. Early results from the pilot have proven the technology concept, and work continues on the gradual increase in operational throughputs, temperatures and durability testing in a test program that will run until the end of 2020.

"The LEILAC 2 project is an important element of our sustainability strategy. It shows that it is possible to significantly reduce the ecological footprint of cement production," says Dr. Dominik von Achten, Chairman of the Managing Board of HeidelbergCement.

Central aspects of the LEILAC 2 project are the further scale-up of the technology to an industrial level, the full process integration into an existing cement plant, and the heat supply of the plant from renewable energies for climate-neutral CO2 separation. LEILAC-2 will be officially launched on April 7, 2020 and will run to the end of 2024. It  at a working cement plant in Europe. 

Like its predecessor LEILAC 1, the LEILAC 2 project is based on Calix’s innovative calcination technology and is supported with 16 million euros from the EU research funding programme Horizon 2020. As part of LEILAC 1, a CO2 separation pilot plant with a capacity of 25,000 tonnes per year was constructed at the HeidelbergCement plant in Lixhe, Belgium. In LEILAC 2 will involve the design, construction and operational testing of a 100kTpa CO2 capture facility in a HeidelbergCement plant in Western Europe, which has yet to be determined. The project was officially launched on April 7, 2020 and will run to the end of 2024.

Calix’s commercialisation strategy for its LEILAC technology involves proof of demonstration at the LEILAC-2 scale by 2025, after which licence or royalty arrangements will be sought from those wishing to use the technology, delivered via engineering and technology partners. If fully proven at demonstration scale, LEILAC should have significant cost and operating advantages over competing technologies such as amine CO2 capture (currently being proven at similar scale to LEILAC-1) and oxyfuel (has not yet been piloted).

The LEILAC-2 key objectives are:

  • Construction of a demonstration plant that will aim to capture around 20 per cent of a full-scale cement plant’s process CO2 emissions (100,000 TPA of CO2), equivalent to 100 per cent of a large lime kiln’s process emissions, for minimal energy penalty other than compressing the CO2.
  • Successful demonstration of up to a four-times scale-up of the technology for around twice the capital cost of the LEILAC-1 facility, confirming cost-efficient CO2 capture for the lime and cement industries.
  • Prove the effective retrofit and full integration of the technology into a cement plant’s operations.
  • Demonstrate the efficiency and stability of the complete cement-kiln process and high-quality clinker output when integrating Calix’s CO2 separation technology.
  • Showcase a modular, replicable, retrofit design for accelerated commercial deployment that delivers flexible scalability for varying operation size and configurations, agility to adopt the technology and decrease emissions progressively, and a broad range of options for captured CO2 utilisation and sequestration. These factors can eliminate the need for large capital expenditure and significant asset write-downs.
  • Demonstrate the operation of direct separation kilns for lime and cement using renewable sources of energy such biomass and renewable sources of electricity, bringing the running of the plant to net zero CO2 emissions and enabling a move away from high carbon-emitting gas or coal-fired plants.
  • Enable lime and cement kiln processing plants with a cost-efficient solution to effectively use intermittent renewable energy sources, with rapid ramp up/down rates leveraging electricity and load balancing techniques for grid stability.


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Issue 74 - Mar - Apr 2020

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