Posted by Jill Lyman - email
A cement plant in Utah drew some national attention recently because of their unusual method of producing energy. They're burning diapers. That's right...diapers!
And another company actually pays to get rid of them.
A modern cement plant is on a much bigger scale, but even ancient Romans knew you could heat up limestone to make cement. Those Romans never imagined using Little Mermaid Huggies for fuel.
That's what helped the Devils' Slide Cement Plant save nearly a million dollars a year.
"Of our total operating cost, fuel cost is roughly one third," said plant manager, Keith Krugh.
The traditional fuel is coal. They add to the fuel mix, chunks of rubber tires, and chopped up waste plastic. Much of the waste is from Kimberly Clark Huggies Factory, leftover chunks of disposable diapers.
They dump the waste into burners that preheat limestone to about 2,000 degrees. It reduces coal consumption by 30%.
"We are also conserving a natural resource, and we're also keeping a lot of material out of landfills that would normally go there," said Krugh.
In the rotary kiln the temperatures get even hotter, an incredible 3,000 degrees, chemically transforming the limestone mix into portland cement. Waste, as fuel drew praise at a meeting of national business group exploring green, sustainable business practices.
Burning of tires and plastics has often been controversial around the country because of air quality issues. The company claims the waste they burn is often less polluting than coal, and they're not permitted to burn any form of hazardous waste.