Decarbonising Cement: Leilac at Full Commercial Scale, a new study produced by the EU funded Leilac-2 consortium, provides a detailed analysis of the Leilac technology’s potential to deliver flexible and low-cost decarbonisation solutions for a cement plant with a capacity of 1.2 million tonnes of clinker per year, with costs based on central European prices.

The study includes a techno-economic analysis of multiple, fully scalable retrofit and integration options that can deliver:

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Low-cost capture of unavoidable process emissions

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Strong synergies with post-combustion capture for near net-zero emissions and

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Electrification for future-proof cement production

Leilac CEO, Daniel Rennie, said the study supports a compelling vision for the decarbonisation of cement plants at full commercial scale.

“The CO₂ abatement costs presented in the report, with flexible, low impact and retrofittable integration options, provide economical solutions for cement decarbonisation, particularly in the context of the regulatory incentives being implemented by governments around the world,” Rennie said.

“Leilac, in collaboration with its global partners, will continue to develop, scale and implement solutions that can enable the cement industry to meet its climate commitments and protect jobs and prosperity through a just transition to sustainable cement.”

Targeting the lowest cost solution for unavoidable emissions

The study provides an analysis of the Leilac technology’s application at the full-scale of a typical cement plant, with costs based on central European prices.

Through a simple replication of the module being developed for the Leilac-2 demonstration plant, the study finds that a typical full-scale Leilac plant could capture around 600,000 tonnes of CO₂ a year for a cost of around €33/tonne of CO₂ avoided, or ~€16/tonne clinker. These costs include CO₂ compression, maintenance, and capital repayment, and result in avoidance of ~75% of the host plants fossil CO₂ emissions. With transport and storage costs in the range of €15-50+/tonne of CO₂, full CCS avoidance costs may be possible for around €48-81+/tonne of CO₂ avoided. Actual costs will be site-specific, and each plant will require a short scoping study

For a cement plant with a capacity of 1.2 million tonnes of clinker per year. That cost includes a Leilac CAPEX of around €123m (excluding compression) and Leilac OPEX would be approximately €9/tonne of CO₂ avoided (excluding compression). Compression CAPEX is approximately €19m, and OPEX €14/tonne of CO₂.

Currently, the cost of emitting CO₂ within the EU is around €90 under the EU ETS, while the US Inflation Reduction Act increased the incentive to capture CO₂ from industry to US$85 per tonne. The study finds that full-scale implementation of the Leilac technology at a typical cement plant in central Europe may be able to capture CO₂ emissions worth €53 million per year for a potential annual cost of €20 million, excluding CO₂ transport and storage.

Low-cost and future-proof pathways to net zero

If a carbon-containing fuel is used, the Leilac technology can be combined with any other carbon capture process to address fuel emissions. Post-combustion capture (PCC) technologies can increase CO₂ avoidance rates and deliver carbon neutral or even carbon negative cement. The combined use of the Leilac technology – to capture the unavoidable process emissions – and any viable ‘flue gas capture’ process can enable significant synergies.

With Leilac capturing the process emissions, the required PCC unit is only one-quarter of the size that would otherwise be required if it were the only technology used for carbon capture. Importantly, this dual capture scenario means that the energy requirements of the small PCC unit could be sourced predominantly from waste heat, all but eliminating its largest operating cost.

Using a formulated amine as an illustrative example PCC technology, the techno-economic analysis found that a combined Leilac + PCC system could reach net zero for ~€39/t CO₂ avoided (excluding transport and storage). A comparative scenario using the same post-combustion capture technology for all plant emissions resulted in a 90% cost increase compared with a dual Leilac and post-combustion capture approach.

Low impact retrofit

The study finds that the Leilac technology could be successfully retrofitted to a typical cement plant with minimal downtime. All costs presented in the study include the cost of taking the cement plant offline to complete the installation.

The Leilac technology has a similar footprint to the existing pre-heater tower, and its modular design can enable flexible layout, process and integration options tailored to a given host plant.

Leilac’s capture of process CO₂ at >98% purity also removes the need for a CO₂ purification unit and reduces CO₂ compression unit size and costs.

Towards full scale

Leilac’s technology is purpose-built to efficiently capture unavoidable process emissions from cement and lime production. Leilac’s process modification approach is proven at pilot scale and requires minimal additional energy input and no additional chemicals or processes.

The Leilac-2 project aims to develop a low-cost and retrofittable modular capture unit for process CO₂ emissions released unavoidably in the production of cement and lime. Once developed, this modular design will be replicable and can therefore be applied at any scale. Eventual delivery through a blueprint model for roll out by local companies using local resources is designed to urgently deliver scalable and accessible decarbonisation solutions for the global cement industry.

About the Leilac at Full Commercial Scale study

The study had two key objectives:

  • Ensure that the Leilac technology could provide a low-cost option for full commercial-scale implementation, and
  • Ensure that Leilac-2 is testing and developing a design that supports that full-scale vision.

The study assessed the capture rate and costs for full-scale Leilac plants based on duplicating the current Leilac-2 design (4-tube modules), representing the simplest approach to applying the design at full-scale. Future module designs, containing more tubes per module, may provide improved design solutions that further reduce capture costs.

Leilac is currently undertaking multiple detailed engineering studies for full-scale implementations of the Leilac technology at cement plants around the world, offering a near-term, commercially relevant solution.

The results presented in this study are illustrative, based on central European costs. Regional and plant specific analysis is provided through a scoping study. For further information, please:

[1] For a cement plant with a capacity of 1.2 million tonnes of clinker per year. That cost includes a Leilac CAPEX of around €123m (excluding compression) and Leilac OPEX would be approximately €9/tonne of CO₂ avoided (excluding compression). Compression CAPEX is approximately €19m, and OPEX €14/tonne of CO₂.