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Reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions of magnesia refractory products: A life-cycle perspective

An, Jing, Li, Yingnan, Middleton, Richard S.
Journal of cleaner production 2018 v.182 pp. 363-371
bricks, carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon markets, carbon sequestration, development planning, emissions, energy, energy use and consumption, environmental impact, furnaces, industry, issues and policy, magnesium oxide, China
China is the largest producer of magnesia refractory materials and products in the world, resulting in significant energy consumption and carbon emissions. This study analyzes measures to reduce both the energy consumption and carbon emissions in the production phase and use phase, providing a theoretical basis for a sustainable magnesia refractory industry. Results show that the total carbon emissions of carbon-containing magnesia bricks produced with fused magnesia are much higher than those of other products, and the total carbon emissions of both general magnesia brick and magnesia-carbon spray are lower than those of other products. Carbon emissions of magnesia products are mainly concentrated in the production process of magnesia. Manufacturers should select materials with lower environmental impacts and emphasize saving energy and reducing carbon emissions in the magnesia production process. Through scenario analysis we found that CO2 capture is an effective measure to reduce carbon emissions compared with just improving energy consumption. However, a robust CO2 market does not currently exist. Policy makers should plan on integrating CO2 capture in the magnesia industry into a regional CO2 capture and storage development planning in the long term. In particular, magnesia production is concentrated in a single geographical area which would and thus could take advantage of significant scale effects. In the use phase, extending the service lifetime reduces carbon emissions over the product lifetime, thus users should attempt to extend the service lifetime of a furnace as a whole. However, results show that it is not advisable to add a large number of repair refractories to extend the lifetime of existing furnaces.