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Dangote Cement prospects use of sustainable alternative energy

By Taofeek Ali
27 February 2023   |   3:52 am
The Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from burning fossil fuels have been confirmed to contribute significantly to climate change and its adverse effects on the planet earth.

The Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from burning fossil fuels have been confirmed to contribute significantly to climate change and its adverse effects on the planet earth.

To ensure a sustainable future, the United Nations has charged organisations around the world to take action to reduce carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other GHG emissions using alternative energy to save the mother earth from further depletion.

With this in focus, Dangote Cement Plc, a pan Africa cement manufacturer, on the occasion of World Earth day, threw up the gauntlet, leading the rest of African industries to champion use of sustainable alternative energy.

The intention is to save the planet, which has long been exploited through various human activities such as urbanisation, agricultural practices, wildlife trafficking, deforestation and other activities, which are driven by the use of fossil fuel. It has led to a sort of environmental destruction, which is now hurting man in numerous unfriendly forms such as global warming, climate change and pollution.

Alternative energy is a set of potent methods of generating energy from renewable sources, having prospects of low risk of harming the environment. These renewable sources, despite their potential for wealth generation, are taken for granted and are thrashed, albeit out of ignorance.

It is against this background, that Dangote Cement charted a course for itself to be part of efforts at redeeming the earth. The company keyed into the global action, being championed by the United Nations, to reverse the trend and invariably turn the waste materials hitherto thrashed into wealth for the benefit of the people and good of the society.

The company set up a team comprising of sustainability, alternative fuel and health and environment experts to drive the efforts. The team embarked on sensitisation visits to some identified locations with abundance of the renewable energy sources across the country to enlighten the stakeholders in the value chain, on ways and means to preserve the waste for use as alternative fuel and economic empowerment.

This was the mission to Ikire, in Osun state, South west Nigeria, where large deposits of Palm Kernel Shell (PKS) are mostly burnt as a waste because it is seen as having no economic value.

And so, the team in convoy waded through the rusty ancient community. The motorcade then slowed to a crawl through a number of farm settlements before it finally stopped at Buoye village.

Buoye is one of the hamlets famed for palm oil milling as a major source of livelihood for the people. As the team members disembarked from their vehicles, they were confronted by heaps of PKS, a discarded material from the palm oil milling considered as a waste but which the company now seeks to convert to income for the millers.

On arrival, the Dangote Cement team led by Peter Anagbe, Head of Alternative Fuel Project (AFP) and Dr. Igazeuma Okoroba, Head of Sustainability in company of others watched curiously the procedure involved in extracting palm oil from the fresh palm fruit with the use of a combination of manual and local technology.

Anagbe, an engineer, said of the visit; “This is one of actions being taken by the Dangote Cement management to migrate to alternative fuel as a sure way of addressing the climate change occasioned by the depletion of biodiversity and destruction of the ecosystem.

Moved by the native intellectual ability deployed for the palm oil milling, the team began to probe into the villagers understanding of the PKS as a waste. The head of the milling site, Hameed Adekunle, who though is not well versed in western education, was quick to explain how so much of the waste collected over time had occupied the space needed for palm milling convenience and had to result to burning the heaps of the shell.

This, according to him, they have been doing for years. It was at this juncture that the Dangote cement officials explained their mission to their hosts.

The team further clarified its mission, which is, to preserve the environment and a task in which the PKS collectors are critical stakeholders, it somewhat sounded quite paradoxical to the millers that the team actually came not because of palm oil but for the PKS.

Okoroba explained that the environmental sustainability is a call to duty to conserve natural resources and protect global ecosystems to support health and wellbeing, now and in the future. And if action is not taken fast, the climate change as being experienced now could affect the sourcing of alternative fuels. This is the reason we are visiting.

Anagbe added that one way of achieving this is to discard the use fossil fuel, which make up over 90 per cent of the fuel used in manufacturing, transportation and emit high amounts of GHG and embrace alternative fuel, which the PKS has been found to be very appropriate.

He explained that with the ongoing global attention being paid to deployment of alternative fuel, Dangote Cement, as a global player is leading the efforts to examine critically the alternative fuel value chain and map out how the waste collectors could be empowered to raise the awareness as to the usefulness of the PKS and expand their capability to collect more through the provision of modern technology as opposed to the current primitive methods and get more reward for their efforts by incentivizing the waste collection.

He said: “Dangote Cement like any other company in cement business make use of heat in production process and therefore alternative fuels are considered as a solution to reducing carbon dioxide and GHG emissions in the factories.”

Dangote Cement apart from empowering the local PKS collectors has mapped out a course of action to explore alternative fuels such as biodiesel, ethanol, electricity from renewable sources, propane, and hydrogen.

As a business continually driving values for its stakeholders, the company is bent on energizing stakeholders in the value chain of PKS supply. This according to Dangote officials is a deliberate strategy to shore up and sustain the PKS availability as a waste.
Going forward, the millers were assured Dangote would engage in periodic value chain analysis and community engagements with the waste (PKS) collectors as well as the palm oil millers in communities across Nigeria to explore avenues to empowering them to bolster production which in effect will lead to sustainable generation of PKS to be co-processed in the cement kilns to recover energy and leaving zero waste. “This is part of our contribution to the global environmental preservation efforts and circular economy”, the team stated.”

Urging the waste collectors to see opportunities in the unfolding global action to preserving the environment for the betterment of all, Anagbe urged the people to be positive at alternative value adding opportunities to wastes in whatever they are doing taking a cue from the PKS, which hitherto was a waste which is openly incinerated, thus causing environmental pollution.

In an apparent appreciation of the message brought to them by Dangote Cement, Mr. Adekunle, who conducted the team round the site of palm oil mills in the area explained that the main stay of the community economy is palm oil milling and that the use of PKS for co-processing offered them another opportunity to expand and diversify.

He, however, lamented that the process involved in palm oil production, which in turn generates PKS waste, is a very tedious one giving the archaic method they use and would therefore appreciate any support from Dangote Cement for them to acquire modern technology to process the palm oil and in turn, generate more PKS.

To drive home the point that the palm oil million is a family affair, he explained that the entire process of getting PKS from the point of harvesting the palm tree involves as much as 30 people depending on the number of the palm tree being processed.

Adekunle expressed gratitude at the gesture of the management of Dangote Cement noting that the cement company was the first to visit them at the mill and show empathy saying “this means Dangote cement values us as a critical stakeholder in the entire value chain of ensuring zero waste-to-landfill by evacuating the waste palm kernel shell (PKS).

The Dangote team also met with the various stakeholders within the Ikire hub, during which the participants enumerated the various challenges faced by them while trying to collect the waste from different locations.

A leading collector, Prince Oloyan Lawal, recounted various challenges faced in the task of the waste collecting describing as a key challenge the issue of logistics as they have to move from one settlement to the other to collect the waste and the settlements usually not motorable.

Speaking on behalf of others, he thanked the Dangote Cement team for coming to enlightening them more on waste management and the benefits inherent therein. He stated that most of them are farmers and that the value exchanged for the waste (PKS as a by-product of palm oil) collection is seen as a part time activity and given the enlightenment by Dangote Cement team, they would devout more attention to the activity.

Igazeuma urged the stakeholders to have an open mind-set towards a circular economy as most of the materials which are dumped as wastes are now sources of wealth which also improves the environment as well as the economy of the rural dwellers. She promised that Dangote Cement would partner with them to ensure that they reap the desired benefits from the culture of turning waste to wealth and thereby protecting the environment.

Anagbe said his company considered PKS as an alternative fuel, and to gradually migrate to its use, it has devised a pneumatic feeding system. The team then headed to the 12 million metric ton per annum capacity Cement Plant at Ibese in Yewaland, in the Western part of Ogun State to inspect the Alternative Fuel Pneumatic Feeding System and the PKS storage area.

He explained that the feeding system was fabricated and assembled in-house by Dangote Cement engineers using obsolete equipment that were recycled. The feeding system systematically dozes the PKS into the calciner of the cement kiln, where the waste is co-processed at high temperatures, leaving zero waste and emissions.

On duty was the acting Ibese Plant Director, Myneni Nageswara, who applauded efforts by the Alternative Fuel Project team, at ensuring that Dangote Cement is not left behind in the global efforts at providing alternative fuel sources to traditional fossil fuel, thereby mitigating the impact of emission and conserving energy.

He, particularly, described as a job well done the fabrication of the Pneumatic Feeing system, which uses the PKS to thermally substitute the heat energy required by the kiln in the cement making process. He urged for the fast-track installation of additional feeding systems to increase the waste co-processing capacity of the plant.

Underscoring the essence of the tour of the project, Anagbe explained that the visit was necessitated by the shift in global attention to alternative fuel sourcing, which is expected to contribute to the realization of ‘zero emission’ and ‘zero waste’ concepts.

He added that alternative fuel can be produced from other agricultural wastes, municipal wastes, commercial and industrial wastes, thereby contributing to minimise waste to landfills.

Giving details of the pneumatic system and why the company decided to settle for it, the Head of the Ibese Cement Plant Alternative Fuel Project, Sumaila Muhammed, an engineer, explained cement production involves the mixture of limestone, clay and laterite and the process requires high temperature.

In fact the critical temperature for cement clinker to form in the kiln is 1450 OC. And a high volume of fuel is required to reach the temperature level. “Global energy demand is predicted to grow by two times by the year 2033. Fossil fuels requirement will then increase by 100 per cent as the source of energy and fear for CO2 emission increment is by 100 per cent.

Therefore, to produce cement and at the same time ensure environmental sustainability, there is the need for new energy resources with net zero CO2 emission and low price.

Alternative fuels and raw materials to be used in our Ibese plant to substitute fossil fuel in our cement production process is very imperative, hence, the design of Pneumatic Feeding System in Kiln A to feed AFR at 25 TSR.

The basic raw materials considered in the pneumatic feeding system design are Palm Kernel Shells (PKS) and Rice Husk. Others are Saw Dust, Coconut shells and Sugarcane bagasse.”

Availability of AFR Supply
Muhammed, disclosed that Nigeria generates about 32 million tons of waste per year (including all stages of the value chain), plastic constitute 8 per cent of the waste and large numbers is agro-based waste and the figure is expected to double by 2040.

Rice Mills and Palm Oil industries produce abundant of solid biomass waste. This waste has potential to produce renewable biofuel.
“As DCP Ibese recognizes the need for proper management of waste and environmental sustainability, we embarked on AFR mapping within our host communities and many states in Nigeria after establishing large volume of agricultural waste and some being burnt indiscriminately, we decided to collect these wastes and convert them into valuable energy resources, smokeless renewable biofuel. Large volume of waste generation leads to environmental sustainability challenges. Renewable biofuels are carbon neutral (CO2 from biomass combustion is absorbed by plant during growth)

“Implementation of AF pneumatic feeding system in Kiln A targets 25 per cent TSR using rice husk and PKS. Average CO2 emission per ton clinker produced reduction by 5.2 per cent zero waste generation, as the whole exercise is a concept of waste management.

Rice husk and PKS are inexhaustible source of renewable alternative fuel for firing in calciner/kiln and contributes significantly to waste management in Nigeria.”

Anagbe and his team members are happy at the outcome of their visits saying, “we were able to educate on the issues of environment and its effect on the planet earth. We created the desired environmental awareness to the local waste collectors, whose activities have largely been unappreciated and provided information on the treasures in the waste thrash, which is the way to go in transiting to alternative fuel. To motivate them we are empowering them with free modern technologies with which to collect wastes and make the collection a real source of livelihood.