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Material efficiency and energy efficiency based on the example of production processes at Nordkalk Poland

Dominik Budny (info a, 10 May 2022

The increase in the prices of energy carriers since the second half of 2021, the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine are the main political and economic factors, which force manufacturers to reduce costs and generate energy from alternative sources.

To this end, production facilities implement programmes focused on material efficiency and energy efficiency. The first expresses the degree in which raw materials are utilised as compared to the previous production process, while the latter focuses on a ratio between the output and input of energy. The efficient use of materials and energy in the production process aims to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services, which has a measurable impact on the production cost, and consequently on the product price.

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As a leading supplier of lime-based products, Nordkalk has committed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in its current operations. The ambitious and specific objectives are set out in the long-term roadmap called eLIMEnate. Based on this, it has been determined that the geological and mining activities and the material handling will be free of CO2 emissions and the emissions from lime burning will be reduced by 30% at all Nordklak’s sites by 2035. The next step set by the company to be achieved by 2045 is that the production of burnt lime in its plants is to be done without the use of fossil fuels, while maintaining carbon neutrality. In addition to energy efficiency, the main means to achieve the above-mentioned objectives will be related to the use of, among other things, biofuels and renewable energy.

Nordkalk constantly enhances good practices at certain stages of production, including but not limited to through the use of biofuels. However, it should be kept in mind that the long-term climate-neutrality objectives require a number of commercial solutions. At European level, the company is taking part in SSAB’s extensive research project called FFS - Towards Fossil-free Steel in Finland. In the project, SSAB works together with industrial and research partners to explore different solutions and alternatives to produce fossil-free steel. The programme aims to eliminate the fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions by 2045, which is in line with the above-mentioned eLIMEnate programme.

Nordkalk Poland has been conducting a number of activities for years in order to improve material efficiency, including energy efficiency”, comments Piotr Maciak, Executive Vice President Central Europe.

The production facility focuses on the utilisation of its own resources at 100%. This is a big challenge because ready-made materials must be of high quality, and also have an appropriate chemical composition. In order to meet the required purity parameters, the material from the mine is separated into either usable material, which is directed to the production, or material treated as waste. To reduce waste as much as possible, it is sent to the washing lines where only high-quality material is left during the production process.

Nordkalk also uses a different approach to ensure the correct chemical parameters of its materials. As a result of the geological survey on one of the deposits, the company managed to separate part of the material, whose physical and chemical composition does not allow it to be used as a base for road-building material or industrial stone, but makes it very good material for the agricultural industry. The facility uses this material to produce dolomitised fertilisers.
Such actions increase the usage of available material, and thus bring us closer to achieving 100% utilisation of our industrial resources. In parallel with these activities, we are working to increase the energy efficiency in the broad sense. At present, we are running a number of projects. One of them is to reduce the consumption of energy used to drain an excavation. By changing the drainage system of the mine and the construction of a completely new pump plant, we managed to reduce the unit electricity consumption by 3% per meter of water pumped out. We are now implementing a system to control the consumption of natural gas used for drying meal and granulates. The system analyses a number of production parameters resulting in optimising the amounts of natural gas delivered to the installation”, explains the CE Production Director, Jerzy Kwiatek.

This year, Nordkalk Poland is carrying out the investments in the Miedzianka and Wolica plants, which are the construction of photovoltaic farms to help reduce the cost of electricity consumption. It is the simplest market-available solution that uses natural energy sources. The photovoltaic installations were built in two Nordkalk Poland plants. This is the first step towards the construction of energy sources of this type. The aim is high-power photovoltaic farms of approx. 1-2MW, built in industrial areas that are not used for mining purposes”, adds Piotr.

The examples mentioned above are the best evidence that the lime industry is on the verge of changes related to the production technology. Only the right strategy and systematic introduction of innovations at each stage of production will allow to consistently build strong leadership position in the carbonate raw materials industry.

Leader in Northern Europe

Nordkalk is the leading limestone company in Northern Europe. We deliver essential raw materials to numerous industries, and our solutions contribute to clean air and water as well as productivity of agricultural land.