Norcem tests four capture technologies side-by-side

project-news Claude R. Olsen
29 November 2013

In the new year, the cement plant in Brevik will start testing four different CO2 capture technologies.

​The NOK 93 million project will determine which technologies are suited for cement plants, and is being closely followed by the industry and authorities in many countries.

(Per Brevik)The cement industry is one of the largest global sources of CO2 emissions apart from power producers, and is responsible for approx. five per cent of global emissions according to the IEA. Efficient capture methods are therefore a very important contribution to reduce emissions.


Norcem started early and has long worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its plant, with energy efficiency measures and use of biofuel. The plant is now taking the lead in the European cement industry to reduce CO2 emissions.

"The vision is for there to be zero CO2 emissions in 2030 throughout the products' lifecycle," says project manager Per Brevik in HeidelbergCement Norge, which includes Norcem in Brevik.

Following a preliminary study and a long process related to additional approval by the EFTA Surveillance Agency, ESA, Norcem was green-lighted in May of this year. CLIMIT is contributing approx. NOK 70 million and the company and partners are contributing approx. NOK 23 million.

Post combustion

Following preliminary studies conducted by Norcem in 2008-2011 (CLIMIT project 206089), Norcem has chosen four different technologies for further testing. All will be installed after the combustion process.

"We have considered post combustion most relevant in an existing cement plant. Now we will test different capture technologies on concrete flue gases from cement production to find practical solutions for reducing CO2 emissions," says Brevik.

The project that started this year and will run to 2017, consists of eight work packages; one for each technology, one for the test programme, one for communication and one for benchmarking.

The project has been active for six months and is progressing according to schedule, though two of the minor technologies have stated that they are delayed by one month.

The article continues after the illustration.

Akers MTU.jpg

The suppliers will test their technologies in the highlighted buildings (coloured). Aker's MTU is located in the centre of the area. Illustration: Norcem

Four competitors

Amines: Aker Clean Carbon (ACC) has long worked to improved its amine process. This is the most mature technology, which will be the actual reference technology. ACC's mobile test unit (MTU) has captured CO2 from highly different sources in Scotland, the US and at Mongstad, and has several thousand hours of operation under its belt. The company will install its mobile test unit in Brevik in March 2014 and will begin testing after Easter. The capture capacity will be approx. 2 000 tonnes a year.

Membranes: Professor May-Britt Hägg and her colleagues at NTNU have developed membranes in polymers that can filter out CO2 from flue gas. The technology has been further developed in cooperation with the Norwegian-Dutch DNV Kema and Israeli Yodfat Engineers. A capture plant with membranes could be particularly appealing to the industry since it is more likely easier. No fluids or solids need to be moved, the energy demand is low and there is no waste. A test plant is arriving in Brevik before Christmas and testing will start at the end of January 2014. If the first phase is successful, a larger version will be tested in phase two from 2015.

Solid sorbents: The Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in North Carolina has developed a technology that is similar to the amine process, but where amine is replaced with a solid substance. The schedule is the same as for the membranes.

Carbonate looping: Alstom in Norway is most renowned for its ammonia process currently undergoing testing at Mongstad. The company has also developed a technology which includes calcium carbonate in the capture process. This is particularly interesting for the cement industry which has more than enough limestone. The challenge with the carbonate method is that it involves moving a lot of powder and the particles eventually wear down. The advantage is that used particles can be recycled in cement production so there is no waste. Alstom has started a pilot study at the University of Darmstadt in Germany. If successful, they will build a test rig which can be used for testing in Brevik at a later date.

Other challenges:

"Isn't it difficult to choose technologies when the four are at such different stages of development?"

"We have to take the many small steps. I think we will know enough to decide whether to run long-term tests with the membrane and sorbent technologies in the summer of 2014. In 2015, the project will have considerable information on which technologies are most suited, but whether it will be enough make a conclusion, we do not yet know," says Brevik.

One of the challenges involves clarifying how much flue gas impurity the membranes can handle before it impacts performance. But after positive results from tests at a coal power plant in Portugal, Brevik is optimistic.

The project will identify figures for energy consumption and environmental costs and demonstrate the bottlenecks in each technology.

The testing only applies to capture. The CO2 captured is therefore released back into the air.

Sharing results

Part of the project involves building infrastructure at the cement plant in Brevik so technology suppliers can easily set up their test rig and collect exhaust gas from the cement plant. When ACC has completed its tests in 2014, others can join and test their technology.

Since CLIMIT is covering 75 per cent of the costs, the project includes the requirement that results must be shared and disseminated. The technology suppliers will keep some elements to themselves, but Brevik promises that as much as possible will be made public. 

"There has been a clear desire from Gassnova to spread the results. The European Cement Research Academy (ECRA) is our partner and we can reach the entire European cement industry via them. The testing in Brevik is not something we are doing exclusively for ourselves. A project of NOK 93 million is a very big deal in the cement industry. We are used to completely different figures than the oil and gas industry offshore. The project is therefore being followed with considerable interest from the cement industry," says Brevik.

"We can tell that the eyes of the world are on Norcem when we are in international meetings, most recently at a meeting in the European project for zero emissions, ZEP, which functions as an adviser for the European Commission. A next step could be having such projects financed by the EU," says senior adviser Jørild Svalestuen in Gassno​va.


Name: CO2 Capture Test Facility at Norcem Brevik, Project Phase II, Test Step 1

Project leader: Norcem AS

Partners: HeidelbergCement, European Cement Research Academy, Aker Clean Carbon, Research Triangle Institute (RTI), DNV KEMA, NTNU, Yodfat Engineers, Alstom

Budget: NOK 93.3 million

Period: 2013-2017​



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