WorldCement.com (June 2, 2015) ─ More than 900 delegates from 29 countries attended the 57th IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Technical Conference, which took place in Toronto, Canada on 26 – 30 April. On offer was a host of technical papers and panel discussions, covering the areas of automation, drives, safety, maintenance, power, environment and sustainability.

“…Anna de la Garza from Zephyr Environmental Corporation gave a great paper on ‘Crafting an O&M Plan Template for PC MACT’, which delegates paid close attention to.” – Katherine Guenioui, Editor

This conference never fails to impress with the quality of its technical content and this year delegates were also treated to several panel discussions on the topics of alternative fuels, PM compliance, blending silo technology and NESHAP CEMS. The discussions incorporated the perspectives of cement plants, equipment suppliers and other industry experts, making them even more useful than in previous years.

Ed Sullivan got proceedings off to a cheerful start with the promise of optimism for 2015. The PCA is forecasting cement consumption growth of 7.5% in 2015, 7.9% in 2016, and is encouraging the industry to ‘embrace the optimism’. Sullivan predicts capacity utilisation at 90% in 2018 and for imports to exceed 20% market share in 2019. A supply gap of more than 50 million t is expected by 2035 and the import capacity will fall short of demand. No doubt future conferences will look at how the cement industry addresses this challenge.

Michael McSweeney, President of the Cement Association of Canada, reminded delegates that the cement industry has a good story to tell. He said that the impact of the cement industry on the environment cannot be ignored and that the CAC is in support of a cap and trade system. He was followed on stage by Glenn Thibeault, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Climate Change. Thibeault praised the cement industry for its leadership in moving towards a low carbon economy and talked about reducing regulatory burdens and streamlining the approvals process.

The papers were too many to discuss in detail, but some of the highlights included the alternative fuels panel discussion, which was moderated by Carrie Yonley of Schreiber, Yonley & Associates, a Trinity Consulting company, and included an introduction from Carrie of current regulatory issues surrounding the use of alternative fuels. Greg Mayes of Sustainable Processes LLC then talked through the practicalities of introducing alternative fuels to your operations, Marc Vermiere of Votorantim Cement North America and Steve Martin of Pond Biofuels talked a bit about their project at the St Marys Cement plant and Alex Guyse of Cemex looked at the use of CFD modelling in evaluating alternative fuels projects. Finally, David Rib of Mistubishi Cement gave an excellent presentation sharing his experiences at the company’s Cushenbury plant, which has been using alternative fuels since the early 1990s.

Another highlight was Carrie Yonley’s paper questioning whether the industry is ready to meet the 9th September 2015 compliance deadline and reminding the audience exactly what the requirements will be. This paper won third prize at the Awards Banquet at the end of the week. Other prize winners were John Kline, of John Kline Consulting, and Juhn Guynn from Roman Cement LLC, who won first place with their paper ‘Maximising SCM Content of Blended Cements’, another conference highlight. In second place was Alan Finch of Ash Grove Cement Company, with his paper: ‘A Cement Plant’s Experience in Investigating Power Sags Leads to a Reduction in Kiln Outages by Utilising Power Hardening Methods’.

The panel discussion on PM compliance was a lively one, with input from Corinne Fields of Clarcor, Andy Winston of BWF and Arron Heinrickson of Trinity Consultants. The concern in the industry at the moment seems to be less geared towards initial compliance and more focused on maintaining compliance, which will be the real test.

In that vein, Anna de la Garza from Zephyr Environmental Corp. gave a great paper on ‘Crafting an O&M Plan Template for PC MACT’, which delegates paid close attention to. The NESHAP panel, with input from Lehigh Hanson, Ash Grove and CalPortland, was also very insightful and showed the real benefit of the conference – sharing experience and best practice across the cement industry.

Alongside the conference, 157 exhibitors showcased their latest technologies and solutions and hosted evening events and hospitality suites. On the final day of the conference, delegates visited the St Marys Cement Bowmanville plant, which is a pioneering facility that excels in the area of energy efficiency and is soon to begin burning low carbon fuels. We were also able to learn more about the Pond Biofuels algae project and even saw some samples of the algae being produced.

The 2016 conference will take place in Dallas, Texas on 15 – 19 May and will tour the Ash Grove Cement Midlothian plant. For more details, keep an eye on the website: www.cementconference.org.