The state of California plans to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. Although that is more than 20 years away, it is crucial that companies and industries in the state identify solutions to assist in carbon reduction.
West Coast-based cement and concrete producer CalPortland is reducing emissions throughout production phases. At the Mojave Cement Plant, CalPortland has been an industry leader on energy conservation and environmental quality. The company was one of the first industrial companies to construct a 24 MW wind turbine electrical generation facility on its property to provide electricity for the operation of its Mojave cement plant. CalPortland continues its focus on environmental leadership by producing a lower-carbon blended cement and upgrading operations to reduce its carbon footprint.
Following the approval for use in state-funded projects from CalTrans, there has been increasing demand and use of portland-limestone cement (PLC). PLC reduces the amount of greenhouse gas associated with a ton of cement by approximately 10%. In addition to producing this lower-carbon blend, CalPortland’s Mojave plant has worked with community, regulatory, and environmental stakeholders for over a decade to successfully permit a greenfield mine site. Known as Gem Hill, the site provides the Mojave plant with volcanic tuff, a cement-friendly, carbon-neutral ingredient.
A pozzolan material, volcanic tuff reduces CO2 on a ton-per-ton basis when combined with clinker, making more resilient cement and concrete amid increasing environmental regulations. The use of pozzolan in the cement manufacturing process at the Mojave plant will result in carbon reduction by as much as 300,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of more than 336 million pounds of coal burned. For every ton of natural pozzolan used as a clinker replacement, the CO2 footprint of the cement produced is reduced by one ton.
Gem Hill is conveniently located 20 miles south of the Mojave plant. Sourcing nearby pozzolan in the regional market eliminates additional handling, transportation, heating, and related emissions. To establish the Gem Hill greenfield site, CalPortland and Kern County worked together to reach a mutually beneficial project that heavily involved input from nearby neighbors and surrounding communities in the permitting process. The process was designed by engineers and legal and technical consultants to achieve environmental goals while bolstering economic growth.
Other efforts to reduce emissions are focused on energy optimization. The plant has upgraded its cement vertical roller mill (VRM), which efficiently combines, blends, and finely grinds ingredients while using less energy. With modifications to the VRM, the Mojave plant showed substantial efficiency improvements resulting in more than $400,000 in annual electricity savings. CalPortland’s commitment to sustainability has been recognized by the U.S. EPA for almost two decades – the company has been awarded the EPA ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award for Energy Management for 19 consecutive years. This is a feat unmatched by any other industrial company in the U.S.