DTU, FLSmidth, Danish Technological Institute and others will develop methods to replace fossil fuels with electricity in cement industry.

Concrete in construction is built using cement, which contains a large amount of burnt limestone. But burning limestone requires heat, and limestone itself emits CO2, which today accounts for approximately 7% of the world's CO2 emissions.

Through the new partnership, ECoClay, three DTU departments (DTU Compute, DTU Wind and Energy Systems, and DTU Chemical Engineering) together with FLSmidth, and the Danish Technological Institute and others will work on developing and commercializing new technology so that fossil fuels can be replaced in production of cement with electricity produced from renewable energy sources.

The Project Manager, FLSmidth, is one of the world's largest suppliers of equipment and services to the cement industry. The company expects that ECoClay will contribute to reducing CO2 emissions from cement production remarkably.

'The importance of this partnership is significant. ECoClay will accelerate the green transition of cement production and set a new standard for the industry. ECoClay is another important step towards achieving our zero-emission promise to get the cement producers to be able to operate their plants without emissions in 2030,' says Carsten Riisberg Lund, Cement Industry President, FLSmidth.

Senior Researcher Peter Arendt Jensen at DTU Chemical Engineering adds:

'We are looking forward to this collaboration, which includes several companies and three DTU departments. The partnership will play a significant role in converting the energy-intensive industry from fossil fuels to the use of electricity from carbon-neutral technologies.'

Burnt clay reduces emissions

In recent years, the cement industry has been working with burned clay as a partial replacement for cement in concrete.

The so-called clay calcination is an important step in reducing the large CO2 emissions, because by replacing up to 30% of the limestone-based clinker, you can achieve significantly reduced CO2 emissions per. tons of cement.

The ECoClay partnership, which also includes several international partners, expects to be able to reduce CO2 emissions to further 10% by developing a method to use electricity instead of fossil fuels like coal for clay calcination.

A central problem in energy-intensive industrial sectors

In the project, the Danish Technological Institute will develop a practically usable method for burning clay particles using electricity.

'Electrification of industry's high temperature processes with renewable energy sources is important for the green transition and a core area for the Danish Technological Institute. We look forward to help making the renewable energy usable for the cement industry and contribute to the work towards making cement CO2 neutral,' says Mikkel Agerbaek, Executive Vice President Materials, Danish Technological Institute.

At DTU the researchers will develop the control systems that are used to quickly and efficiently control the electrified calcination process economically efficiently and flexibly, but also to control the electrified process towards the electricity system so that the process and its thermal storage are adapted to fluctuating electricity prices economically optimally.

'It is a relatively new sphere we are moving into, but we look forward to the collaboration with the industry and our DTU partners. With the ECoClay project, we address a highly topical issue with the electrification of the very energy-intensive industrial sector,' says Associate Professor Chresten Traeholt at DTU Wind - Department of Wind and Energy Systems.

DTU Compute - Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science - is an international leader in knowledge within model predictive regulation for industrial processes and energy systems:

Digitization tools such as online integrated forecasting, management, and optimization software based on model predictive regulation are needed for electrification and decarbonization of the process industry and the cement industry in particular. We are pleased that DTU Compute's competencies within digitization and data science in the form of model predictive regulation are now brought into play for a first step towards CO2 emission-free cement production,' says Professor John Bagterp Jorgensen.

Full-scale production should run by 2025

After the initial laboratory development and testing of the technologies for high-temperature electric heat development, the possibilities for storing energy from renewable energy sources, and adaptation to the electricity grid, the technology must be tested and demonstrated at FLSmidth's R&D Center in Mariager in Denmark.

According to the plan, the first commercial full-scale production of electric clay calcination should be ready by the end of 2025. The goal is that the new process is both better than the conventional burning of clay, has a lower environmental footprint, and a lower emission of emissions.

The project is partly funded by the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP) under the Danish Energy Agency.


FLSmidth: Project manager. FLSmidth is one of the world's largest suppliers of equipment and services to the cement industry. ECoClay is part of FLSmidth's MissionZero program, which will make it possible to run zero-emission cement production in 2030. After the initial laboratory tests, ECoClay will be tested at FLSmidth's R&D Center in Mariager, Denmark before a full-scale test is set up with the producers in the partnership.

Danish Technological Institute: The institute will carry out laboratory experiments, which will develop a practical possible method of burning limestone with electricity instead of gas. Among other things, by characterizing the properties of the clay when using rapid electric heating in the process.

Technical University of Denmark, DTU: DTU Chemical Engineering, DTU Wind, and DTU Compute will provide digitization technology for design and control of the electrification of the new process for cement production. Based on detailed process models in the form of computational fluid dynamics, advanced design models are developed for the process. Likewise, advanced control systems are being developed based on DTU's internationally leading knowledge within model predictive regulation for industrial processes and energy systems.

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