In an effort to take decisive action toward making a substantial impact on industrial cement emission reductions, the International CCS Knowledge Centre (Knowledge Centre) and Lehigh Hanson Materials Limited (Lehigh) recently completed a carbon capture and storage (CCS) feasibility study for the Lehigh Edmonton Cement plant in Alberta Canada. Driven by the need to create low carbon cement products and contribute to global climate action goals, this carbon capture facility would be the first for the North American cement industry.  

The main deliverable of the feasibility study was an Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE) Class 4 cost estimate to assist Lehigh in determining the economic viability of a potential CCS retrofit project capturing up to 780,000 tonnes/year of carbon dioxide (CO2). This study concluded that amine post-combustion capture technology can capture up to 95% of the CO2 from both the flue gas emitted from the cement plant and from the auxiliary steam boiler required to provide energy for the carbon capture process. 

“A commercial-scale CO2 capture plant at the Lehigh Edmonton cement facility could substantially accelerate the deployment of CCS across the cement industry and other hard-to-abate sectors in Canada and around the world,” says the Knowledge Centre’s Conway Nelson, VP Project Development & Advisory Services. 

Value of Iterations Across Industrial Platforms 

Due to the similarities in flue gases, the expertise acquired at the Boundary Dam Power Station Unit 3 Carbon Capture Facility and the Knowledge Centre's work to reduce cost and risk through the advancement of second-generation CCS technology, these foundational learnings in carbon capture have been adapted through this study for integration in cement production. 

With innovative technologies, significant advancements and cost reductions are created through the iterative process. “It’s an exciting time for large-scale carbon capture to go from proven and operating in small pockets of the world to actively and substantially supporting net-zero goals of industries and countries,” says the Knowledge Centre’s Mark Demchuk, National Director of Strategy & Stakeholder Relations. “CCS fits nicely as a strategy for companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, and with this study particularly in business cases for the cement sector.” 

Proving that carbon capture can be applied to cement production supports the drive to create low carbon footprint cement products that serve as sustainable building materials.i With the global demand for cement expected to increase by 12-23% by 2050, the positive results of this feasibility study are pivotal for the cement sector.

The feasibility study had a budget of $3 million (M) and was made possible through funding from Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) investing $1.4M, as well as funding from Lehigh with contributions by the Knowledge Centre.

Highlights of Lehigh Edmonton CCS Feasibility Study 

A cement plant of this size can capture 780,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.  

  • The study demonstrates feasibility of a 95 percent CO2 capture efficiency. 
  • The captured and compressed CO2 will be of suitable purity for permanent sequestration or other sustainable disposition.  
  • Flue gas pre-treatment required for CO2 capture would substantially reduce non-CO2 emissions of the existing plant, in particular the emissions of particulates (PM) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), which will be practically eliminated. 
  • The Lehigh Edmonton CCS facility could provide additional jobs in construction, manufacturing, and ongoing operations. The study estimates the direct project labour requirement during the construction phase at up to 2.7-million-person hours. 

Stay tuned for the public release of the full detailed Lehigh Edmonton CCS Feasibility Study.  

On the Horizon for Carbon Capture on Cement 

With the successful completion of the feasibility study, a few other elements were identified for improvement in the financial performance of the project. This includes optimization of the flue gas pre-treatment systems and the capture efficiency target as well as the addition of combined heat and power (CHP). These opportunities will be examined during a front-end engineering design (FEED) study to ensure that the final design is optimized prior to a final investment decision. “Our next steps are to focus on optimizing design details and to reduce costs and risks through completion of a FEED study,” says Nelson. “The momentum is contagious. As a first-generation CCS plant on a cement manufacturing facility, there are opportunities to apply the knowledge gained to this industry as well as other hard-to-abate sectors.”  

Post-combustion capture CCS projects, however, are capitally intensive and currently are not financially accretive to the shareholders of any large industrial emitters, including cement.  This is principally evidenced to date by the significant financial participation and support by governments for CCS projects across the globe.  Given the need to accelerate deployment and create the large-scale emissions reductions necessary to make progress against stated targets, there is a necessary role for governments to develop and administer supportive policy, regulations, and programs. “We are hopeful and encouraged by progress at the provincial and federal levels,” says Demchuk, “It is important that governments become active partners in CCS – it is this that will ultimately help to de-risk and support the business case and realize deployment.”


 i IEA (2019), Transforming Industry through CCUS, IEA, Paris