The Public Works Department and Waste Management Agency (WMA), Ras Al Khaimah recently organised a workshop on “Alternative Fuels to the Cement Industry”. The half day event focused on the possibilities related to the utilisation of municipal solid waste as an alternative fuel in the cement industry.

The workshop was attended by major cement industry companies in Ras Al Khaimah, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), technology providers and other industry players including Entag, Egypt.

Sonia Nasser, Executive Director at RAK WMA, welcomed the delegates and gave a presentation on the Agency’s programmes to divert waste away from landfill and encourage various sectors to actively participate in their recycling initiatives.

In his speech, Eng. Yousif Al Rayssi, Director-Waste Management Department, MOCCAE, highlighted the significance of the topic and touched upon the new federal regulation that has been issued – Federal Law 12/2018, the integrated waste management regulation.

By second quarter 2019, a Ministerial Decree on the use of alternative fuels will be issued imposing a compulsory 10 percent alternative fuel from municipal solid waste for all coal fired cement plants, he revealed. Import of alternative fuels or materials derived from waste is prohibited.

With regard to the action needed, the authority would like to convene a meeting with all cement process engineers to further discuss the challenges in feeding RDF into their cement plants.

Christian Abl and Jordan Mandalov from Emirates RDF LLC gave a presentation highlighting their expertise and provided an update on the MOCCAE RDF facility in Umm Al Quwain. The RDF plant would start operations by July 2020. The estimated municipal solid waste (MSW) input is 1200 tons per day, and the estimated RDF output is 800 tons per day, the presentation indicated. Expected RDF product specifications: Size max 90mm; NCV > 15MJ/kg; Moisture < 20 percent; Chlorine Content < 1 percent; Potential price: Coal price as per the energy content, with 30 percent discount.

Cement plants including Star Cement and Gulf Cement focused on the best practices, with the former sharing their experience on the use of alternative fuels. The presentation revealed cement plants’ preferred requirements for an AF product: Size max 50 mm; NCV > 20 MJ/kg; Moisture < 10 percent; Chlorine content < 0.3 percent; SO3 and Alkalis < 2 percent.

An increase in the AF market monitoring with regulations and a better-defined framework is required by the cement plants: The alternative fuel provider needs to ensure efficient logistics, and a supply on a frequent basis; Ease the approvals for other waste materials implementation (ARM, AF from industries) and to streamline NOC approvals from EPDA and the cost of having to pay for NOCs for each material; Support and help needed for cement industry in UAE, such as awards for the best practice, reduced permitting costs if they use alternative fuels; Need to explore the value of C02 emission reductions.

Action suggested: Review NOC process scheme, organise regular meetings to share knowledge and improve co-processing initiatives.

RAK Waste Management Agency (WMA) stressed that waste diverted to cement pants as alternative fuels is an important initiative for the agency to achieve the target of 75 percent municipal solid waste (MSW) diversion from landfill by 2021. As part of the measures being introduced, in 2018, the WMA had implemented test and trials with the cement industry for homogeneous MSW streams. Camel manure, wood waste, some industrial wastes have been processed in cement plants, increasing the MSW diversion by 6 percent in 6 months.

WMA said it will also invite investors to develop processing capabilities to increase waste diversion to cement plants. The main potential for alternative fuels comes from the upgraded material recovery facility (MRF), the presentation indicated. More than 36,000 tons of SRF product could be produced by simply including additional processing facilities to the MRF.

Actions include diversion of new homogeneous waste streams to the cement industry; improving the testing and trial processes to facilitate the implementation; and securing investment for processing equipment.

Dr. Hisham Sherif from ENTAG, Egypt presented case studies on successful RDF projects in Egypt. From studying the alternative fuels implementation in Egypt, key takeaways are: Egypt managed to implement alternative fuels without any regulations from the government and managed to raise thermal substitution rates of cement plants by 10 percent on average; From an existing integrated MRF plant in Egypt, RDF production is 20 percent of the MSW input; A bio-mechanical process is efficiently converting organics MSW fraction into BDF product, blending BDF and RDF increase the product quality and the plant efficiency.

Dr. Hisham’s recommendations included: The creation of a dedicated regulatory institution for solid waste management that builds capacities at the national level; Developing policies and procedures inclusive of key stakeholders, including the informal sector; Expanding public private partnership (PPP) programmes and incentivising small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to participate in the solid waste management sector; Creating a framework for adopting waste to energy technologies. This would include preset standards for RDF and plans to integrate waste to energy projects into economic sectors such as cement industry; Cement industry people should rely on using alternative solid fuel mix (BDF & RDF) in order to obtain maximum benefits.

Challenges and opportunities

Some remarks and questions were put forth by the attendees during the discussions following presentations:

  • Quality monitoring by testing the materials on regular basis, and following standard classifications are key elements when implementing alternative fuels at cement plants. The cement industry is constrained by tight quality requirements and is driven by cost efficiency.
  • Regulation and incentives are required to facilitate the alternative fuel market. Similarly, data collection and reporting is key to ensure regulation is properly implemented. Co-processing is also a waste management initiative and cement plants must be incentivised to treat municipal waste quantities. Is there a possibility for Emirates RDF LLC to provide free consultation or reduce cost of consultation to cement plants on feeding systems?
  • Rules on imports and alternative fuels provision across emirates must be reviewed; one RDF plant is not sufficient to ensure 10 percent alternative fuels substitution in 8+ cement companies.
  • An integrated waste management system that is located closer to the plants is better to efficiently produce high quality AF product and meet the waste management targets.
  • Further discussions and knowledge sharing are needed between different stakeholders to build a safe environment for coprocessing in the UAE.