World-first hydrogen trials demonstrate pathway to net zero cement

Concrete has strong sustainability credentials and is playing a vital role in meeting the UK’s ambition of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Increasingly, the industry is recognising the importance of measuring the environmental performance of a building over its whole life, rather than simply considering the impact of its construction.

JACKON UK receives daily questions regarding the carbon footprint of the materials we use. This is why discussing the life cycle of the current housing stock and future proofing buildings is so important. JACKON UK is relied on by many customers due to its broad range of climate-friendly, sustainable thermal insulation solutions and it is committed to contributing towards high-quality, energy-efficient and environmentally responsible buildings. 

The UK concrete industry is making great strides in its commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of its raw materials, and recent trials at Hanson Cement’s Ribblesdale plant in Lancashire shine a spotlight on one of many ways the industry is changing.

Led by the Mineral Products Association (MPA), Hanson UK and made possible by Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) funding, the trial used a mix of 100% net-zero fuel for commercial-scale cement manufacture. During the demonstration at the Ribblesdale plant, the proportion of fuels in the cement kiln’s main burner was gradually increased to a wholly net-zero mix consisting of tanker-delivered hydrogen as well as meat and bone meal (MBM) and glycerine. 

If fully implemented for the whole kiln system, nearly 180,000 tonnes of CO2 could be saved each year at Ribblesdale alone, compared to using the traditional fuel of coal at the site.

Dr Richard Leese, MPA Director – Industrial Policy, Energy and Climate Change, says: “Our sector is committed to advancing ground-breaking collaborative research and innovation to meet the industry’s climate change objectives. This world-first trial has demonstrated the potential of using net-zero fuel mixes for the manufacture of cement at commercial scale. 

“Building on the significant steps our members have already taken through the use of waste-derived fuels, in the future we envisage that combining the use of net-zero fuels with Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) technology will enable the production of cement to capture more COthan it emits.”

Energy & Climate Change Minister, Greg Hands, said: “This project, supported by £3.2 million in government funding, is a key example of how we are supporting industry to reduce emissions and move away from relying on fossil fuels.

“Fuel switching and developing hydrogen technology will be vital for decarbonising industries such as cement production and will help us further develop the green infrastructure needed as we drive forward the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution”.

Read more about this trial here