Biomass as solid fuel for the industrial production of modern masonry bricks and other heavy clay ­products

The production of heavy clay products has to contend with a lot of criticism and difficulties in many countries in the world. Especially the firing of clay bricks is regarded in many regions, particularly in emerging countries, as a major influencing factor for pollution and CO2 emissions. In industrial countries production of heavy clay products has to meet the regulations and ­restrictions for CO2 emissions.

Apart from the environmental aspect, it has also to be taken into account that fuel prices have increased over a long period and will continue to rise in future. As a consequence, fuel is one of the most important influencing factors for brick firing today. Of course, one target is always to reduce consumption as much as possible. But reduction of consumption often demands significant changes combined with high investment. Usually there are certain limits depending on the local situation of the brick producer.

The standard proposal to reduce consumption and emissions normally is to change to lightweight products and to switch to controlled gas firing. In many cases this has already been done, in others it is not immediately or not easily possible. Natural gas is not available everywhere and lightweight products are not yet accepted in every market. In European countries, this change had already been realized and now brick producers are facing ever stricter climate targets. One opportunity is the alternative approach using biomass as solid fuel.

As a leading company for innovation firing for heavy clay products, Ceric started developing firing solutions using biomass as fuel more than ten years ago. Biomass constitutes a renewable source of energy, which in many cases is just known for gasification plants, but, of course, it can also be used under certain conditions as a solid fuel for direct firing, too. The calorific values of typical biomass suitable for use in brick firing range between 3,000 and 5,000 kcal/kg. This corresponds to approximately half that of black coal, which keeps the daily volume of solid fuel in a reasonable range.

Ceric has developed a biomass firing system that enables controlled firing in industrial applications with similar comfort as for the use of gas or heavy oil. The first system, running with sawdust, has been in use for ten years now in France. First activities in Asia have been initiated in 2015.

The biomass firing systems can be installed in new applications but also for existing kilns. Single independent units with manual feeding can be operated, too, not just entire firing rows. Independent of the type of kiln, the firing units allow controlled co-firing with other combustibles.

Philipp Händle, Ceric Technologies, Paris, France

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