In the historic industrial town of Hofors, a unique industrial test facility is being built representing a decisive step in the commercialisation of SaltX’s patented innovation, the electric arc calciner (EAC). The facility serves as the bridge between the previous smaller pilot and the full-scale industrial facilities that will be established together with our partners.
About three years ago, SaltX began exploring the potential of an electrified solution for the industrial process known as calcination. In this process, materials are heated to high temperatures in order to alter their properties through a chemical reaction, often with the aim of making the material harder, more stable or reactive.
For SaltX, this was of interest for two reasons: the technology had the potential to function as a charging reactor for the company’s energy storage solutions, and it showed huge potential to accelerate the electrification of the lime and cement industry, one of the world’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide. Development efforts intensified in 2022 with a first pilot, and work is now underway to complete our unique world-first facility, the Electric Arc Calciner Research Center (ECRC).
EAC – POTENTIAL TO ELIMINATE GIGATONS OF CO2
The unique feature of EAC technology is how the different components work together to create an ideal process for high-quality calcination, with the plasma-driven heating and reactor design being the key components of the furnace. The flexible electric heating and unique design allow the material to be processed optimally to achieve a high degree of calcination with good scalability. In addition, CO2 capture takes place in the same process, which means that no additional costly and energy-consuming carbon capture plant is necessary. Add to this a high level of energy efficiency, and you’ve got a solution that is one of a kind.
One central element of development efforts is the utilization of carbon dioxide. In an electrically powered heating system, there are few contaminants in the exhausted carbon dioxide, unlike in fossil-fueled heating. This creates a more efficient process for managing the captured carbon dioxide. The purity is so high that it could meet the requirements for carbonated water or soft drinks. SaltX is in dialogue with several different stakeholders about solutions for the reuse or storage of carbon dioxide. As SaltX has previously reported, industrial partners as well as specialists have confirmed the EAC’s capacity to also produce Portland clinker, which is the foundation of cement. Results confirm the technology’s potential to transform both the lime and cement industry from being one of the largest emitters to achieving net-zero emissions.
FROM PILOT TO FULL-SCALE TEST CENTER
The promising results from the pilot plant will now be further developed on an industrial scale in a new test facility that is planned to be operational by the fall of 2023. Here, the technology will be scaled up to 2 MW, a facility ten times bigger than the previous pilot plant. In addition to scaling up the technology, other subsystems will be built to provide a test environment where the complete process can be tested, evaluated and optimized.
Finally, there will be numerous material tests of different types of limestone, as well as its various qualities and dimensions. Once limestone testing is complete, it is possible to continue testing other materials and production processes, such as for aluminum, cement and magnesium.
AN INVESTMENT FOR THE FUTURE
Since SaltX took on the challenge of finding a solution for electric calcination for the first time, progress has been rapid. The investment we are making in the new facility is critical both for the company and for the opportunity to become a powerful driver in the industry’s transition. The facility, even before it was built, has generated great interest from most players, and the company looks forward with confidence to carrying out more tests requested by customers starting at the end of this year.
SaltX also intends to take active steps to encourage politicians, influencers and other stakeholders to visit the Hofors facility to find out for themselves how a new Swedish green industry is emerging. This presents great opportunities to increase the understanding of technology’s potential and the pivotal role innovation plays in helping more industries take decisive steps to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.
A NEW LANDMARK IN HOFORS
Demolition to make room for the new facility took place in March, and together with representatives from Hofors Municipality, we broke ground in April to kick off construction. Now, at the beginning of May, the earthworks and foundation are completed, so it will soon be possible to see how the roughly 25-meter-high (80 ft.) facility is starting to take shape and rise to the sky. The work will be closely monitored and regularly covered until the opening in the fall.