Main content area

Energy efficiency and environmental assessment of a typical marble quarry and processing plant

Gazi, A., Skevis, G., Founti, M.A.
Journal of cleaner production 2012 v.32 pp. 10-21
European Union, business enterprises, carbon dioxide, construction materials, energy conservation, energy efficiency, environmental assessment, environmental impact, modernization, production costs, resource management, wastes, Europe
Marble is one of the most aesthetically pleasing, durable and long lasting decorative and building materials and plays an important role in the economy of several European countries. The majority of quarrying and marble processing activities worldwide are performed by Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs), whose operations are characterized by low productivity coupled with low penetration of new technologies, high production costs and an overall lack of sustainable resource management coupled with significant amounts of waste material produced mainly during the quarrying stage. There is a marked need within the sector for increases in production efficiency coupled with substantial reductions in material waste that can be achieved by adopting best available production and processing practices, promoting technological innovation, incorporating energy saving technologies and modernizing the sector's organizational structure and management practices. The present work provides a systematic approach for assessing the current energy and environmental status of a typical European marble quarrying and processing SME and proposes measures for meeting cleaner production objectives. An evaluation methodology was developed, through consideration of several realistic plant operating scenarios. The total energy inputs for specific products and processes together with appropriate environmental indices (equivalent CO₂ yield) were calculated and compared to corresponding data from similar companies across the European Union. Possible measures that may improve overall plant energy efficiency and environmental impact are also proposed.