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Industrial Residue Activation for sustainable cement production

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ReActiv (Industrial Residue Activation for sustainable cement production)

Reporting period: 2020-11-01 to 2022-04-30

The ReActiv project will create a novel sustainable symbiotic value chain, linking the by-product of the alumina production industry and the cement production industy. Bauxite residue (BR) is the main by-product of the alumina sector produced at rates of 7 million tons per year in EU, while recycling rates are less than 200 thousdand tons per year respectively. In ReActiv modification will be made to both the alumina production and the cement production side of the chain, in order to link them through the new ReActiv technologies. The latter will modify the properties of the industrial residue, transforming into an active material (with pozzolanicor hydraulic activity) suitable for new, low CO2 footprint, cement products. In this manner ReActiv proposes a win-win scenario for both industrial sectors (reducing wastes and CO2 emissions respectively).

The ReActiv project will screen various raw materials (BR available to the project and other accessible mineral and industrial wastes) with different processing technologies in order to produce ‘active’ material which will be tested for production of new cement products. The research will follow a spiral pattern as it will grow out of lab/bench scale under constant check and feedback from the end-user (LH). Industrial leadership in technology development WPs will safeguard the industrial relevance of the research direction. Performance criteria will be not limited to technical standards but will also include financial and environmental KPIs, in order to ensure that scale up technologies are viable and sustainable.
- Technical KPI: Clinker replacement factor >3025%, Activity index >80%
- Financial KPI: The cost to produce the new cement versus the strength achieved, €/MPa under constant workability. This is a dynamic KPI, the target value for which will be defined in reference to current pricing of LH existing products in specific regions and markets.
- Environmental KPI: CO2 kg/t of new cement (<520 kg CO2/t cement, LH target for 2030)

To achieve its objectives the ReActiv project brings together the global leader in cement production with the bigest alumina producers along with top research and technology centers with significant expertise in the field. Furthermore the European Alumina Association and the International Aluminium Institute are participating in the project to further the industrial dissemination and deployment of project results within the European and global alumina industry. The methodology developed under ReActiv can be replicated in by-products of other industrial sectors as well. To this end the project will seek to include via modelling and/or labscale enviroment other by-products in the developed flowsheets.
BR samples have been collected and analyzed from 7 different alumina plant in EU and beyond. Lab scale tests on dealkalinization have been performed successfully on all 7 BR samples; an depth study of this technology resulted in an empirical model of the process. Remaining alkali level can be tuned based on the amount of lime used.
Labscale development of 3 new SCM and 2 alternative cements based on BR has taken place, with initial positive technical results:
• A new SCM produced through the calcination of BR with other mineral/industrial residues,
• An iron-rich, glassy SCM, produced from BR vitrification
• An iron-free slag SCM, produced from BR smelting along with an iron-alloy by-product.
• A novel calciumsulfoaluminate-ferrite (CSAF)-clinker that uses 35 wt.% of BR as raw material
• A novel calcium aluminate cement (CAC) produced concurrently with metallic Fe via BR smelting.
A first industrial pilot run of the BR calcination has already taken place at MYTILINEOS.
In parallel, flowsheet data have been collected from all WPs, initial equipment have been selected and the initial process flow diagrams (PFDs) have been established, setting the foundations fora feasibility study.LCA work has begun in order to establish both the baseline of the project and to perform the individual assessment of the ReActiv tehcnologies. From the available labscale data, hotspot analysis has taken place and reported back to technology developers. The ReActiv communication plan has been established (deliverable D8.4) stakeholder analysis has been performed (deliverable D7.1) and the first cross-fertilization workshop took place (deliverable D8.5). The second workshop is already planned for September 2022
The project is so far on track with delivering the expected impact as described below:
i) Reduction potential of at least 30% of primary raw material use per ton of main high-volume final product
The technologies being developed show the potential to substitute cement clinker at levels of 30% with modified BR, a currently unused industrial by-product.
ii) Reduction of waste generation by at least 25%
The European clinker production in 2017 was 175 Mt, with a 30% substitution rate, this allows for more than 50 Mt of BR to be used each year in cement, i.e. surpassing the annual EU production of BR by 7 times. ReActiv can effectively achieve the 100% reduction of solid waste generation in the European Alumina sector. So this impact remains on track.
iii) Significant energy savings and reductions in CO2 emissions (including through a higher share of renewable energy) in the overall sustainable production lines in which the technology is fully integrated.
The CO2 emissions avoidance through clinker substitution is well documented and is further quantified in ReActiv, with extensive LCA/LCC of the new ReActiv processing technologies that will produce the new BR SCMs and new cement products.
Iv) Contribution to new standards for the use of secondary materials for new products
Initial work under this impact has begun within the project.
v) Replication potential
The ReActiv consortium represents 77% of the total European alumina production ensuring replication first by the project partners themselves. The replication of the ReActiv process is expected to snowball beyond Europe given the multinational nature of the industrial partners involved. LH has 270 cement plants around the world, while ALCOA operates alumina plants in Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia, RUSAL in Russia, Ukraine, Guinea, Australia, and Jamaica, RT in Australia and Canada, HYDRO in Brazil. Furthermore, European and International dissemination of project results will take place through the European Aluminium Association and the International Aluminium Institute, which are partners in the ReActiv consortium.

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