Congress to Fund Research Investigating Carpet as a Fuel for Cement Kilns
Contact: Robert Peoples, Carpet America Recovery Effort (706) 428-2115
Dalton, GA – December 9, 2003 – The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) – the voluntary initiative of the carpet industry and government to reduce the amount of carpet burdening our nation’s landfills – received a boost when Congress appropriated a $300,000 grant for the study of carpet as an alternative fuel source for cement kilns.
The appropriations bill was approved in Congress and recently signed by President George W. Bush. Representative Nathan Deal (R-GA) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) helped spearhead the project as did Representative Dave Hobson (R-OH), who serves as Chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.
The study, to be funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, will be supported by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers through their Research Committee on Municipal and Industrial Waste, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2004.
“I’m very excited about the cement kilns study moving forward and the possibilities it offers. There has been an ongoing effort for some time now to improve the mechanics of using carpet as an alternate fuel for cement kilns. Thus far, all the existing data demonstrates that carpet as an alternative, clean fuel source is a viable concept,” said Frank Hurd, Chairman of the Board for CARE.
Currently 4.7 billion pounds of carpet go into landfills annually across the U.S., with a BTU value of between 8,500-10,000 per pound. It has been estimated that by using 65 percent of all spent carpet as a fuel source, cement kilns can extract on an annual basis approximately 31.2 million million BTUs of energy.
In addition to the energy savings, burning carpet can be cleaner and less expensive than burning coal. The nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions from burning nylon carpet fiber have been shown to be negligible compared to the thermal oxidation of the combustion air that occurs at the very high flame temperatures of the kiln. There is a chance that the carpet will even reduce the NOx emissions if the flame temperature is lowered by feeding the carpet. Other emissions such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) will be positively impacted and the carbon content of the carpet is equivalent to that of other fuels so it is neutral to carbon dioxide emissions. Carpet also contains calcium carbonate, an ingredient in cement that kiln operators otherwise have to buy.
A key factor in the use of cement kilns as a resource is to jump start the collection infrastructure for spent carpet. Without high volume outlets that can take a wide variety of carpet material it becomes difficult for waste collectors to justify collection processes for particular types of carpet or for small volumes. These specialized fractions can be extracted from the stream going to the cement kiln as new products are developed and their marketplaces grow. Given the inevitable cycles in product demand, cement kilns offer a stable and robust option for diverting carpet from the waste stream, thus dampening these market fluctuations.
The cement kiln study will set up a trial with a small amount of material to establish the feasibility of feeding significant quantities of carpet to the kiln and to understand the modifications that would be required in order to support the feeding of up to 60 tons of material over a 24-hour period.
Experts have calculated that a cement kiln could burn at least 48 tons of carpet a day, replacing up to 15 percent of the coal burned as fuel. If only 10 kilns in the U.S. adopted carpet as an alternative fuel, this effort would help CARE reach its goal of diverting 40 percent of carpet from landfills by 2012.
“It certainly holds a lot of promise if all goes well. We’re constantly looking for market-based solutions for handling post-consumer carpet and I am convinced we will exceed CARE’s goals if opportunities such as this continue to push us in the right direction,” said Mr. Hurd, who also serves as Vice President of the Carpet and Rug Institute, the national trade association for the industry.