MONDAY, April 15, 2024

High-emission cement industry to launch Saraburi Sandbox research pilot

High-emission cement industry to launch Saraburi Sandbox research pilot

The “Saraburi Sandbox” is a particularly prominent public-private partnership model for a low carbon city, soon to be implemented as a pilot project in Saraburi province, north of Bangkok.

The project was initiated by the Office of National Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO), along with project partners including Thai Cement Manufactures Association (TCMA), Thailand Concrete Association (TCA), and industrial entities in Saraburi, Thailand’s largest base within the cement industry.

The sandbox project aims to serve as a testing and learning site for advanced technology, research and innovation, regulations, knowledge and awareness building, as well as funding strategies, and environmentally sustainable approaches. Its successes are expected to be replicated in other provinces.

In the report below, The Nation explores the new technologies and innovations to be featured in Saraburi Sandbox that are expected to help push Thailand closer to the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and zero emissions by 2065.

High-emission cement industry to launch Saraburi Sandbox research pilot

Napier grass: An alternative energy for cement industry?

Jaroenchai Chaliewkriangkrai, president of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) Saraburi chapter, said the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and the TCMA have been working on research and development of alternative sources of energy to replace coal, the current main fuel driving the cement manufacturing industry.

He said researchers found that Napier grass, a perennial tropical grass native to the African grasslands, has potential as a biofuel with significantly lower emission than coal. The grass enjoys low water and nutrient requirements, and therefore can make use of otherwise uncultivated lands.

The FTI and TCMA launched a pilot project to grow Napier grass on 100 rai (16 hectares) of land in Saraburi’s Thab Kwang district with participation from surrounding communities. After 4-5 months, the grass can be harvested, dried and made into fibre that is usable as biofuel and can be sold to cement factories at 1.5 baht per kilogram.

Napier grass can also be used as animal feed, creating additional income for farmers during the off-season of rice and corn.

However, “growing Napier grass can be challenging for Thai farmers who are not familiar with the foreign plant,” said Jaroenchai. “Moreover, most farmers do not have the facilities to dry and transform harvested grass into usable fibre. This would require further investment in community grass drying factories.”

High-emission cement industry to launch Saraburi Sandbox research pilot

Turning waste into energy under the “Tarn Diew Model”

Rewadee Anuwattana, a researcher at Thailand’s Institute of Scientific and Technological Research, under NPXO, said the institute has been working with local communities in Saraburi’s Tarn Diew subdistrict in a pilot project to turn household waste into energy and other valuables.

She said the Tarn Diew Model sets out to educate locals of the 3Rs principle (reduce, reuse and recycle) and waste management practices, as well as to provide technology and know-how in building semi-autonomous waste sorting machines.

The Tarn Diew community can now efficiently manage 20 tonnes per day of garbage to create refuse derived fuel (RDF), recycled plastic, and biological extract for soil improvement, she added.

High-emission cement industry to launch Saraburi Sandbox research pilot

Green measures to be taken by cement manufacturers

Chana Poomee, chairman of TCMA, said that in addition to seeking cooperation from local communities, the Saraburi Sandbox will also urge industrial manufacturers to implement green technologies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the case of the cement manufacturers in Saraburi, the following measures have been actively promoted:

- Researching for alternative raw materials for cement manufacturing to replace “clinker”, which produces a high level of carbon. With the help of nanotechnology, the new materials are expected to also produce higher quality cement products;

- Adjusting the manufacturing process to reduce carbon emission and other environmental impacts;

- Research to implement an optimised construction process that would minimise cement wastage, time and needed labour;

- Switching from coal to biomass and RDF to help reduce carbon emission by up to 12 million tonnes per year, generate additional income for farmers, and reduce the level of PM2.5 air pollution caused by the burning of harvest leftovers;

- Launching a carbon capture along with utilisation/storage programme among cement manufacturers.

High-emission cement industry to launch Saraburi Sandbox research pilot