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Cementing a More Efficient Future for Industry

What is the most important building block of our modern world? You might be tempted to say connectivity, power, or computing? The chances are it’s something a whole lot more simple – cement. This fundamental building material is the foundation of modern infrastructure.

Concrete .. is the second most consumed item in the world

Cement is so widely used in modern society that concrete, of which cement is a critical ingredient, is the second most consumed item in the world after water.

A massive 4.2 billion metric tonnes of cement was produced in 2016. Yet with that huge demand comes a huge energy bill.

In fact, it’s estimated the cement industry is so large that it accounts for around 5% of global carbon emissions. That means building a more efficient industry not only makes smart business sense, it’s critical for our environment. The recent agreement signed between TNB Remaco and Concrete Industries Malaysia (CIMA), shows the type of exciting opportunity that innovation for efficiency can deliver in this field.

Efficiency is heating up

TNB Remaco and CIMA have signed an agreement to utilise waste heat from Negeri Sembilan Cement Industries Sdn Bhd (NSCI) plants in order to generate electricity. This RM200 million project is expected to reduce NSCI’s energy costs by 9-12%, creating a greener, more efficient operation.

Under the agreement, TNB Remaco will design, develop and operate the 23MW plant which is set to utilise the latent heat energy created in cement production that would otherwise go to waste. This agreement not only offers a competitive advantage in reducing energy costs, it shows the organisations’ ambitions to explore the potential in the emerging market for efficient industry.

This is a market with huge global potential. A U.S. Department of Energy report suggests between up to 50% of industrial energy is wasted as heat. That’s not just a cost for production, it’s a cost for our planet.

In fact, it’s estimated that as much as half of the world’s energy ends up as waste heat. That’s a staggering estimation in a world battling to combat the growing threat of climate change. The surging global demand for electricity, accompanied by our increasing realisation of the need for efficiency, means the waste heat to power market is expected to surpass US$30 billion in value by 2024. That’s all down to some smart innovation, helping deliver a smarter industry.

Delivering power with heat

The idea of using excess heat to generate energy is by no means a new one. Scientists as far back as 1821 were exploring the intriguing possibility of heat to energy conversion. What’s changed in our modern world is the ability for that innovation to deliver results, for everything from power plants to cars and consumer devices.

the cost of technology was paid back in efficiency savings in less than 6 months

Industrial processes are by and large an energy intensive game. Industry in Malaysia accounts for over a quarter of total final energy demand. Delivering innovative energy solutions like the TNB Remaco partnership with CIMA is an important route to mitigating that impact.

Industries around the globe have adopted and demonstrated the success of waste heat recovery in a diverse range of sectors. In India, the world’s largest consumer of commercial energy, the energy-intensive glass industry successfully utilises technology to convert waste heat into energy. By implementing waste heat recovery, the industry was able to realise energy savings of up to 30%. In fact, studies show that the cost of technology was paid back in efficiency savings in less than 6 months.

It’s not just traditional industries that are looking to utilise waste heat. Our global need for information means data centres which house the workings of our digital world are equally keen to deliver on their green credentials. The Telehouse West Data Centre in London, UK, utilises the excess heat created in large data farms to deliver local power to the community. This produces up to 9MW of power for the local grid, and reduces the carbon footprint of the company by an estimated 1,110 tonnes.

Innovation deserves the heat

The little things really do add up. When it comes to cement, that adding up is building the world around us. When it comes to sustainability, adding those efficient savings across industry could have a big impact. Industrial heat presents a huge opportunity for global power generation. While the science behind the process might have emerged almost two centuries ago, recent innovations are helping drive forward that opportunity today.

We’re increasingly able to power a world using innovation that eliminates waste, whether that’s with efficient furnaces in India or renewable data centres in the heart of London. Now, with the agreement signed between TNB Remaco and CIMA, we’re on a path to create the foundation for an efficient future, while producing the building blocks for a modern Malaysia.

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