by Alan Jacques
IRISH Cement is to seek planning permission to replace fossil fuels at its Castlemungret works with alternative fuels from materials such as rubber from used tyres as part of a €10 million development plan.
The company plans to replace fossil fuel, used on site for cement clinker production, with alternative fuels to improve the sustainability of the Limerick operations, where 80 people are employed.
Limerick is currently the only cement plant in Ireland not licensed to use alternative fuels.
Used in cement plants across Europe for over 35 years, alternative fuels have also been deployed at Irish Cement’s plant at Platin in County Meath for the last five years.
Alternative fuels are derived from residual waste materials that have a useful energy value which can be recovered safely and recycled in the cement manufacturing process.
Locally sourced alternative fuels account for almost 50 per cent of the fuels used to fire Irish Cement’s kilns at Platin. According to Irish Cement, the very high temperatures inside the kilns (1450°C) mean that these fuels are completely combusted and then recycled into the final cement product, with no ash or emissions released into the atmosphere.
“Limerick is Ireland’s oldest cement plant and its 77 years of operations has been sustained by continuous investment in new technologies and processes throughout the decades,” Limerick plant manager Pat Robinson explained.
“After a recent period of reduced demand, production is once again on the increase for domestic and export markets – but this fuel replacement programme will be key to sustaining this growth,” he added.
Mr Robinson believes that the opportunity to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels will prove critical to Irish Cement’s ability to operate competitively and sustain jobs in the future.
“The replacement of fossil fuels is not only good for the environment but also good for our business. In advance of our planning application to Limerick County Council, we have started an engagement process with our neighbours and local stakeholders to discuss the project and its importance for the future of Limerick works,” he told the Limerick Post.
This will include, amongst other elements, the distribution of a project booklet and an opportunity for local people to discuss the project with Irish Cement personnel.
In the coming weeks Irish Cement will submit a planning application to Limerick County Council and also seek a review of its Environmental Licence from the EPA to permit the use of alternative fuels and raw materials in its processes.