Taiwan Cement set to prioritize carbon capture

[Taiwan] Carbon capture techniques will continue to be a top priority for Taiwan Cement Corp’s (台灣水泥) Hualien-based subsidiary Hoping Power Co (和平電廠), chairman Nelson Chang (張安平) said yesterday at a news conference in Hualien, citing reductions in production costs and new business potential for growing microalgae as benefits.

Taiwan Cement, the nation’s largest cement maker, has since 2011 been involved in a carbon capture project at Hoping Power through collaborations with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) since 2011. The project aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and promote a circular economy.

PILOT PLANT

The pilot plant at Hoping Power is the world’s largest facility to employ the calcium looping process for carbon capture, the company said.

The calcium looping capture process uses calcium oxide, a common ingredient in cement products, as a sorbent for carbon dioxide and could reduce the carbon dioxide capture cost from more than US$45 per tonne to US$30 per tonne, the company said.

Taiwan Cement and ITRI last year signed an agreement to extend their technical cooperation on the project.

The pilot production lines are likely to begin commercial operations before 2022, Chang said, citing difficulty scaling up the project.

The firm has allocated a capital budget of nearly NT$70 million (US$2.3 million) to the technique in the past few years and plans to spend NT$10 million per year in the future.

Apart from lowering production costs, carbon capture technology also turned out to have unexpected business potential after the company found that captured carbon dioxide could be used to grow microalgae.

MICROALGAE

Microalgae — a major source of biofuel — can also produce astaxanthin, a key ingredient in high-value skincare products and medicines.

Taiwan Cement said it is seeking business partners to promote skincare uses for astaxanthin, instead of launching its own brand.

The company needs to stay focused on its core business and has no plans to tap into the retailing industry, Chang told the Taipei Times.

Taiwan Cement’s long-term goal was to transform itself from a traditional cement maker into a “green” service provider, the company said.

Revenue generated by the company’s two major energy subsidiaries, Hoping Power and Moli Energy Corp (能元科技), made up nearly 15 percent of Taiwan Cement’s total sales last year, while its cement business contributed 73 percent, data showed.

‘GREEN ENERGY’

Meanwhile, the company plans to launch a large-scale “green” energy project at the Changhua Coastal Industrial Park (彰濱工業區), Chang said.

He declined to provide details on the new project, saying only that it is to include wind power generation.

Many companies put their unused factories up for sale, but the company hopes to “revitalize” its abandoned facilities, Chang said.

 

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