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Ansys software is helping Aixprocess, a German engineering consultancy, to explore process improvements to make cement manufacturing more profitable and more environmentally responsible.

The business has been investigating replacing traditional fossil fuels – which are becoming increasingly difficult to extract, expensive to use and are of limited quantity – with alternative fuels.

The efforts of Aixprocess are part of a collaborative project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research aimed at using fluid dynamics modelling tools to identify process improvements needed to help cement manufacturers remain competitive.

Cement manufacturing is a resource-intensive process in which limestone and other materials are crushed and milled, preheated to separate glass from solids, and then heated in a kiln at temperatures up to 1,450C.

Large quantities of fuel are needed for preheating raw materials and keeping kiln temperatures high enough to produce the calcium silicate and aluminates that represent modern cement mixtures.

Traditionally, the fuels used in cement making have been coal, oil and gas.

However, due to the increasing financial costs associated with fossil fuels – as well as the negative environmental impacts – cement manufacturers around the world are beginning to explore the use of non-traditional fuels such as scrap tires, paper waste and plastic waste.

These secondary fuels differ greatly from conventional fuels in terms of their physical characteristics and combustion processes, which can disrupt the complex cement-making process if they fail to maintain the proper temperatures, material concentration and other conditions required for a high-quality cement product.

To replace fossil fuels with alternative fuels in cement production facilities – without costly physical testing and process – engineers at Aixprocess have used engineering simulation software from Ansys to analyse the real-world impacts of these ‘green’ fuels.

The company used fluid dynamics to simulate the effects of these fuels on combustion rates and outputs, heat and mass transfer processes, and chemical reactions within cement kilns.

By relying on Ansys software instead of physical tests, the team of engineers estimated it was able to cut 30 per cent of its analysis costs.

‘By using software from Ansys, we have been able to analyse the effects of replacing 40 per cent of the traditional fuels used in an existing cement factory with alternative fuels,’ said Martin Weng, co-founder of Aixprocess.

‘Specifically, we worked on determining the process modifications needed to maintain high kiln temperatures and to stay within other operating critical parameters.

‘We have learned that to use these new fuels, we must compensate with increased oxygen pressure and an intensified materials blending process.

‘Real-world testing to reach this same conclusion would have taken much longer and been far more expensive,’ he added.

Based on their simulations, engineers at Aixprocess have a high degree of confidence that cement manufacturers can successfully replace traditional fossil fuels with alternative secondary fuels, leading to both economic and environmental benefits.

Next, they plan to use software from Ansys to analyse and optimise other aspects of the cement-making industry, including chemical reactions within kilns and the separation processes used to isolate gases and solids during the preheating phase.

‘By running fluid dynamics simulations with Ansys software, the Aixprocess team was able to make a number of subtle process changes and adjustments required by the new fuels – ultimately discovering the optimal set of conditions under which green fuels can be used to support a high-quality cement product,’ said Thierry Marchal, director of industry marketing at Ansys.

Aixprocess will continue to apply tools from Ansys as it seeks to improve other components and processes in cement-making facilities.

Ansys software enables fossil fuel replacement

Ansys software is helping Aixprocess, a German engineering consultancy, to explore process improvements to make cement manufacturing more profitable and more environmentally responsible.

The business has been investigating replacing traditional fossil fuels – which are becoming increasingly difficult to extract, expensive to use and are of limited quantity – with alternative fuels.

The efforts of Aixprocess are part of a collaborative project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research aimed at using fluid dynamics modelling tools to identify process improvements needed to help cement manufacturers remain competitive.

Cement manufacturing is a resource-intensive process in which limestone and other materials are crushed and milled, preheated to separate glass from solids, and then heated in a kiln at temperatures up to 1,450C.

Large quantities of fuel are needed for preheating raw materials and keeping kiln temperatures high enough to produce the calcium silicate and aluminates that represent modern cement mixtures.

Traditionally, the fuels used in cement making have been coal, oil and gas.

However, due to the increasing financial costs associated with fossil fuels – as well as the negative environmental impacts – cement manufacturers around the world are beginning to explore the use of non-traditional fuels such as scrap tires, paper waste and plastic waste.

These secondary fuels differ greatly from conventional fuels in terms of their physical characteristics and combustion processes, which can disrupt the complex cement-making process if they fail to maintain the proper temperatures, material concentration and other conditions required for a high-quality cement product.

To replace fossil fuels with alternative fuels in cement production facilities – without costly physical testing and process – engineers at Aixprocess have used engineering simulation software from Ansys to analyse the real-world impacts of these ‘green’ fuels.

The company used fluid dynamics to simulate the effects of these fuels on combustion rates and outputs, heat and mass transfer processes, and chemical reactions within cement kilns.

By relying on Ansys software instead of physical tests, the team of engineers estimated it was able to cut 30 per cent of its analysis costs.

‘By using software from Ansys, we have been able to analyse the effects of replacing 40 per cent of the traditional fuels used in an existing cement factory with alternative fuels,’ said Martin Weng, co-founder of Aixprocess.

‘Specifically, we worked on determining the process modifications needed to maintain high kiln temperatures and to stay within other operating critical parameters.

‘We have learned that to use these new fuels, we must compensate with increased oxygen pressure and an intensified materials blending process.

‘Real-world testing to reach this same conclusion would have taken much longer and been far more expensive,’ he added.

Based on their simulations, engineers at Aixprocess have a high degree of confidence that cement manufacturers can successfully replace traditional fossil fuels with alternative secondary fuels, leading to both economic and environmental benefits.

Next, they plan to use software from Ansys to analyse and optimise other aspects of the cement-making industry, including chemical reactions within kilns and the separation processes used to isolate gases and solids during the preheating phase.

‘By running fluid dynamics simulations with Ansys software, the Aixprocess team was able to make a number of subtle process changes and adjustments required by the new fuels – ultimately discovering the optimal set of conditions under which green fuels can be used to support a high-quality cement product,’ said Thierry Marchal, director of industry marketing at Ansys.

Aixprocess will continue to apply tools from Ansys as it seeks to improve other components and processes in cement-making facilities.

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