Metallurgists offer Ohorongo an energy solution that may reduce coal usage by 80%
When Petrus Elago (left) met Tobias Konzmann earlier this week, it was to finalise the paperwork on a groundbreaking deal that will see Ohorongo Cement use processed second-hand tyres as another alternative fuel to fire its kilns.
As Ohorongo’s Business Development Manager, Konzmann is also responsible for improved efficiencies which led him to consider various options for gradually changing the cement manufacturer’s energy mix.
This is where Elago of Metallurgical Research and Consulting stepped into the picture. Knowing that several cement factories in Europe successfully burn processed tyres as part of the fuel mix to fire their kilns, he approached Ohorongo to see if they would consider tyre fuel as a partial replacement for coal. Ohorongo already uses charcoal and compacted refuse as alternative fuels although these replace only a fraction of the coal required.
Their immediate goal is to replace 80% of their coal with a mix of alternative fuels in only two years from now. They were therefore very receptive to the metallurgical engineers’ proposal of investigating the suitability of fuel derived from processed tyres as a substitute for coal.
From a technical perspective, Ohorongo said their Sargberg plant is already equipped to burn tyre fuel as it has been designed and constructed to comply with European emission standards. If the tyre fuel proves effective, Ohorongo will reduce its environmental footprint substantially. Kiln fires typically burn at 2000° C, a heat at which the combustion process completely obliterates the chemicals in the tyres. Furthermore, Ohorongo’s smokestack filters are designed to filter out minuscule particles to ensure the least possible release of suspended solids into the atmosphere.
Per the agreement, Metallurgical Research and Consulting undertook to collect scrap tyres, shred them and ensure that the pellets are in a combustible format.
Naming local pollution as a major consideration, Elago said, after they have investigated the feasibility of tyre fuel, they engaged Ohorongo Cement as a potential offtaker for granular fuel. Ohorongo readily agreed.
“With gas temperatures of up to 2000 degrees Celsius, the cement manufacturing process guarantees a complete combustion and destruction of all toxic substances resulting in no harmful emission and will not compromise the product quality,” said Hans-Wilhelm Schütte, the Managing Director of Ohorongo Cement.
The use of tyre fuel has multiple benefits like less discarded tyres at landfills or in river beds, job creation in the new business, reduced carbon dioxide emissions at the factory, coal import substitution and local value added to a waste product which previously could only be used to stabilise embankments or make fodder troughs.