Initiatives to improve production efficiencies have significantly reduced Lafarge’s consumption of natural gas and water.
A number of initiatives have been implemented recently at the Altona and Matraville plasterboard manufacturing plants to improve efficiencies in production and to reduce consumption of natural gas and water. The main programs were the installation of a new heat recovery system in Altona and a calciner throughput increase in both plants.
The new waste gas heat recovery system at Altona improves the dryer process by capturing waste gas and then introducing it into the burner combustion air fans intake and into the recirculated air stream of the first zone of the dryer. This new energy-saving technology will help the Altona plant to save up to 8% of the site’s natural gas consumption and to reduce greenhouse pollution by 1,600 tonnes – the equivalent of removing 370 cars from Victoria’s roads. The heat recovery system also has the ability to recover some of the evaporated water and re-introduce it back into the process at an estimated recovery rate of 2.5 mega litres per annum.
In 2008, the calcining process at both the Altona and Matraville plants has had a gypsum throughput increase, or an increase in the amount of stucco that is converted from gypsum. The calcining process causes the gypsum to lose 75% of its water and along with the drying process consumes the most energy during the production of plasterboard. By increasing the gypsum throughput, the ratio of gas consumption to tonnage of throughput has been decreased. This means that making a tonne of plaster will now require less energy.