Carbon neutral lime kiln decarbonises industrial process —new technology could help to reverse climate change

2 min read

Singleton Birch — the UK’s leading independent lime supplier — is working with UK-based cleantech company, Origen, to develop a new environmentally-friendly way of producing lime.

Founded in 1815, Singleton Birch has been quarrying Lincolnshire chalk and producing lime at its Melton Ross site on Humberside for generations building a thriving business with exports around the world.

However, the creation of lime — a mineral created from limestone that is used in countless industrial processes including the manufacture of concrete, cement, sugar production and the purification of water — is traditionally considered to be carbon intensive. But now all that's in the past.

In what is seen as a major technological breakthrough, Origen has developed a lime kiln — based on its ZerCaL oxy-fuel flash calciner technology — that can separate and capture CO2 efficiently, at source, during the lime production process.

A world-leading authority on kiln design, fluid dynamic and carbon dioxide removal, Origen and its ZerCaL technology can decarbonise lime production and consequently help to decarbonise industries that rely on this important mineral.

This knoweldge and understanding has been gained via ground-breaking research at the University of Oxford followed by the development of a point-source carbon capture demonstrator at Heriot-Watt University.

Perhaps more importantly, the creation of zero-carbon lime can be used by the emerging carbon removal industry to permanently remove CO2 from the atmosphere and even the world’s oceans. [MH1] That's because lime naturally reacts with CO2 making it an ideal material to capture CO2 from industrial processes and from the atmosphere itself.

And it is the potential for future large-scale carbon capture and storage that is beginning to gain traction at a national level.

A project known as ZerCaL250 — a collaboration using Origen’s zero-carbon tech and Singleton Birch’s lime production know-how — has been singled out for future investment as part of the UK Government's Carbon Capture, Usage, and Storage (CCUS) cluster process.

It is one of eight industrial carbon capture (ICC) projects in the government’s East Coast Cluster, supported by zero-carbon partnership Zero Carbon Humber.

ZerCaL250 is one of a number of innovative CCUS technologies that will capture and store carbon emissions, preventing them from being released into the atmosphere.

Zero carbon lime — decarbonising a global industry and a key ingredient in industrial-scale carbon removal

In July 2022 — less than two years after Singleton Birch and Origen announced their intentions to develop the zero-carbon kiln — the project reached an important milestone with the main construction work finished. With the new zero-carbon lime kiln now complete, Origen is now focused on commissioning the plant ahead of its testing phase.

Once fully up and running in the second half of 2023 , it will extend the existing lime production facilities on Singleton Birch's Melton Ross site.

Replacing Singleton Birch's existing lime kilns with this more environmentally friendly ZerCaL lime kiln technology, will also help to decarbonise the site. And, more importantly, it will become a commercial-scale demonstrator for the global lime industry for the creation of zero-carbon lime.

With some 3-4,000 lime kilns in operation around the world emitting an estimated 400 million tonnes of CO2 a year, the technology being developed in Humberside could make a huge impact on global carbon reduction goals.

And when the CO2-absorbing qualities of Origen's zero-carbon lime are used as part of Direct Air Capture (DAC) solutions, it could be fundamental in creating a whole new industry focused on reversing the effects of climate change.

Using lime to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air

The first zero-carbon lime is expected to be produced in 2023 once the plant has been fully commissioned. But this is only the start. Origen is also working with other partners such as 8 Rivers, to work on a joint DAC project, entitled Calcite-Origen, which when functional will pull a thousand tons of CO2 per annum directly from the air.

This ground-breaking joint UK/US project to use Origen's zero-carbon lime and 8 Rivers' DAC technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere has the potential to be a scalable and affordable approach to carbon removal. This trailblazing project has attracted interest from global investors including financial backing from Frontier, an advanced market commitment to accelerate carbon removal.

In the decades ahead, even with extremely rapid reductions in emissions, it is estimated that globally, hundreds of billions – if not trillions – of tonnes of carbon dioxide will need to be removed from the atmosphere to ensure that future generations benefit from a stable climate.

The first steps are being taken here in the Humber by the partnership between Origen and Singleton Birch– one with a proud heritage that reaches back to the Industrial Revolution and the other a pioneer in the emerging field of greenhouse gas removal. It puts the Humber, its companie,s and the people who work there at the centre of a whole new industry.


Removal of CO2 from the atmosphere

Decarbonising high CO2 industry

Not only has Origen developed a technology that can decarbonise lime production and those industries that rely on this important mineral. Crucially, it has created a method to produce zero-carbon lime that can be used by the emerging carbon removal industry to permanently remove CO2 from the atmosphere and even the world’s oceans.


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Diana Taylor is the Managing Director of Future Humber. She is responsible for guiding the vision and strategy to market the Humber to the UK, Europe, and beyond. Diana works with partners and stakeholders to build the voice of the region and enable businesses and organisations within the Humber to succeed and grow.

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