The LEILAC pilot plant

Calix first started operations in 2013 with a commercial-scale reactor, successfully directly separating CO2 from magnesium minerals. However, the temperature necessary to drive out CO2 from limestone is significantly higher. To apply this technology for the cement or lime industry, careful engineering and extensive testing is required.

In order to prove that this technology can be applied to the cement and lime industries, the LEILAC1 project involved the construction of a Pilot plant at the HeidelbergCement plant in Lixhe, Belgium. This has enabled the feat of constructing a first-of-a-kind pilot on time and on budget in 2019.Following a funding award from the EU as part of Horizon 2020, an EU research and innovation programme, the project started in 2016. Extensive research, development and engineering was necessary to design and construct the first-of-a-kind pilot – involving the dedicated, flexible and professional inputs from all of the project’s partners - particularly ECN part of TNO,  Imperial College, PSE, HeidelbergCement, Lhoist, CEMEX, Tarmac and Calix - which are playing a fundamental role in the design and technical development: ranging from extensive CFD modelling to engineering expertise and direction.

In October 2016 the project passed its pre-FEED study. A final investment decision was then taken in mid-2017. Despite being a first-of-a-kind pilot, the dedication of the partners and contractors involved enabled the pilot to be built on time and on budget in 2019.

With the commencement of operations, initial trials of the LEILAC pilot are extremely promising and the technology is working as expected. ​ The pilot’s trials have either used a slip stream of the host plant’s raw meal, or used raw meal or limestone trucked in from a variety of different sources for different testing campaigns, stressing the reactor as much as possible with short and long runs, heating the steel to above 1000°C. While still to be pushed to its full capacity, the pilot can separate CO2 at a rate of around 18000 tonnes per year, the equivalent to the annual emissions of around 8000 cars.

To accelerate further development, LEILAC will deliver a techno-economic roadmap. It has also undertaken comprehensive knowledge sharing activities including a visitor centre at the pilot. In order to reach the required  emissions reductions by 2050, CCS and CCU will need to be applied to a vast majority of the cement and lime kilns, depending on the achievements of the other CO2 reducing initiatives mentioned before. LEILAC is uniquely placed to demonstrate a solid technology to support Europe to achieve these targets in a timely, effective, and efficient manner. (See the FAQ for more information).

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This project has received € 12m of funding from Horizon 2020 program for research and innovation of the European Union under the grant agreement No 654465.