Co-processing, what's in a name

Recycling , Treatment

Vanheede tries to find appropriate processing methods for the largest number of waste streams possible. Ideally, waste is recycled. But certain streams aren't suitable for recycling. Currently, these are sent to the incinerator or placed in a landfill. Vanheede Alternative Fuels means to provide ways to upgrade these streams. 

Waste specific to pellet fuel

Vanheede Alternative Fuels takes some types of plastic, carpeting and textiles, and makes pellets which are used as an environmentally-friendly alternative fuel for major industries such as cement and lime. Their factories consume large quantities of fossil fuels and together represent a staggering 5% of global CO2-production.

When it comes to making pellets, very specific compositions are required, as the pellets are completely adapted to cement-production plants. It is important to use the right waste streams in transformation processes to obtain the perfect pellet. It's a sustainable tale of local production with local clients. The waste often comes from the French textile industry but also from our own plants. Vanheede Alternative Fuels selects the waste streams according to their calorific value (those with a high calorific value burn well and those with a low one burn less well). After transformation, we obtain a pellet that is equivalent to a fossil fuel such as oil, natural gas, coal or lignite. These pellets are called Solid Recovered Fuels (SRF). The process through which the waste is converted into an energy source has been named "co-processing" by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The cement industry requires vast amounts of fossil fuels. This consumption can be drastically reduced by using pellets. 

How is cement made?

To produce cement, you have to heat lime to an extremely high temperature - 1,450°C. This is done in a rotary kiln, the diameter of which can reach 6 metres. This operation produces a substance called clinker. The clinker is then ground down to make cement. Cement is the basic component of concrete production. 

Incinerating waste also produces ash. With classic incinerators, the left-over ash is often taken to landfills. But with cement kilns the ash is incorporated into the end product. It replaces part of the raw materials that would have had to have been added in the production process. This process does not produce any residual waste. Everything is incorporated into the end product.

So in this process the pellet is upgraded 100%. Some 80% of the pellet is consumed in the form of energy; the fuel. And the ash, which represents 20% of its volume, is used as a raw material in the clinker and, in the end, in the cement. Energy recovery and recycling! 

With co-processing, the circular economy loop is complete. The waste continues to exist but in a new form. The waste becomes fuel and the fuel becomes a raw material. The result means less landfill, less drying up of fossil fuels and less CO2-emissions.