A tight contemporary bottleneck for Carbon Recycling from Municipal Wastes

Today there are 5,670 cement plants operating worldwide and estimated to currently “neutralize” over 100 million tonnes of waste derived materials representing 20% of the full potential. For diverting local Municipal Wastes from going into waste dumps today cement industry holds itself out as white knights of civilization. Consequently high landfill-ratio countries’ governments were successfully effected by the recently even more concentrated cement industry to empower them to principal “bearers” of waste! For volumes beyond the 40% consumed by clinker production they in addition bargain for waste to energy power generation feed-in tariffs and complain it no more being covered by Carbon offset trading schemes. Although Carbon abatement cost only burden societies’ free disposable incomes and finance cost-overruns of lavish Carbon squandering into the atmosphere. On other hand recycling Carbon from Municipal Waste could globally save drilling 3.5 billion barrel of oil per year, we currently send out money for, potted into oil-wells for good. Building a new waste refining industry instead could create 1.5 million new high level jobs from Recycled Carbon’s crude oil substitute U$ 150 value per tonne unnecessarily blasted CO2 that could contribute to societies’ wealth in lieu of today’s socialized cost overrun charges.

Switching to Carbon Recycling from Municipal Wastes however requires an eco-system changing innovation unlikely to take place if not in the best interest of the new bearers of ambient Carbon resources. As long as regulatory regimes incentivize mere energy-recovery from carbonaceous residues by securing feedstock availability and off-take values to utilizers the need for an innovation is neutralized by syndicating cost inefficiencies to ordinary people. Once the need for a game changing innovation is vested with the general public it falls under the general palsy of community members to change any ongoing games on their burden. Waste management stakeholders were too intimidated by political proximity and power of Cement Industry to look beyond solving immediate landfilling issues and deem it cheap enough to applaud. So in our search of partners for Carbotopia™ we got repelled for the last five years now!

I once scoped a Romanian project in a pre-contest of bids for Regional EU Structure-Funding and learned from a local cement industry to need 3 Giga Joule Heat plus 110kWh electricity per tonne cement. They used 6% of output weight in not pre-dried refuse derived fuel, to allow more petroleum coke as primary fuel being cheapest but poorer in ashes needed to complement the end-product. Carbon Emission for 3 Giga Joule resulted in 0.35 tonnes CO2 per tonne Cement. If heated with 85m³ Natural Gas emissions could decrease to 0.16 tonnes CO2 per tonne, 2.2 times the Carbon Efficiency. The Waste-to-Energy part only could be substituted at 4.2 times the Carbon Efficiency using Natural Gas! But 1 Giga Joule Natural Gas costs 5.0 U$ instead of 3.5 U$ for Petroleum Coke or 3.3 U$ for the RDF blend. A saving of 5.1 U$ per tonne Cement for 0.19 tonnes higher CO2 emissions, equivalent to U$ 26.8/ tonne CO2. The Waste-to-Energy part shows also 26.5 U$ per tonne CO2 from Municipal Waste energy equivalent. Ashes adding to cement output could also be supplied from Carbon Recycling plants. But would real Carbon Efficiency be too expensive for Cement Industry? Here we come out at about 7% additional Cement manufacturing cost. Cement prices usually account for 3-5% worth of structural works meaning 3.5‰ max. bottom line.

So the question is, whether peer members among Cement Industry will take their held out Corporate Social Responsibility to a level of leading the change of our eco-system into Carbon Recycling business from the resources they have been entrusted long term. They could make profits from local closed loop economy benefits for people instead of continuing to make their earnings on the expense of people and the planet.

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