A Web-Based Solution

February 21, 2018 Christian Markussen

Christian Markussen, FLSmidth, Denmark, introduces a tool to improve the carbon footprint of cement plants.

The environment is a key topic of debate, especially since the UN Climate Change Conference, COP21, was held in Paris in 2015, where it was decided to reduce CO2 emissions to further reduce the global increase in temperature. To reach targets, it is necessary to know the amount of CO2 continuously emitted from major industries that burn either fossil or organic fuels. In the cement industry, a group of large cement companies initiated the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI). Today, the group includes 24 major cement producers, with operations in more than 100 countries, and represents around 30% of the world’s cement production. One of the CSI focus areas is emissions measurement and reporting, due to the fact that approximately 6% of the manmade CO2 derives from cement production. However, CO2 should not be the only focus, as NOX, SO2, THC and dust, among others, can harm the environment when occurring in large quantities.

As a consequence of this increasing focus on benchmarking carbon footprints, the need for a reliable, quality-assured environmental reporting system to provide a quick overview of greenhouse gas emissions is becoming increasingly important.

This article discusses the considerations the plant owner or environmental manager has to take, and how FLSmidth sees the environmental reporting system of the future.

Considerations when choosing an environmental reporting system
Both the analysers and the environmental reporting system are complete units at delivery, but the connection of the two is unique. It is therefore essential that they are well-documented and that a test report is completed after installation. When the analyser is connected to the environmental reporting system, it is important to ensure that the signal pathways are correct, and that they are measuring values as expected.

The kiln inlet analyser equipment at Lhoist Denmark, which was used to reduce the emissions

The analysers contain only momentary values, so these need to be saved in order to create reports. Most countries state that plants need to store the values for a minimum of five years and must secure the data against hardware failure, fire, and theft. It is therefore a good idea to choose a system with a backup function, to ensure the data in accordance with the rules.

When measurement points are transferred to an environmental reporting system, they must be saved, calculated and converted into short-term average (STA) values of 10 – 60 min., and long-term average (LTA) values, which are often one day or more. It is the STA and LTA values that are reported to the environmental authorities.

Drawing of the analyser solution supplied to Lhoist Denmark

It is tempting to see this part as simple mathematics, as the average of 30 min. is the sum of 30 min. of measurements divided by the number of measurements. Several suppliers of environmental reporting systems use spreadsheets, or similar solutions. This should be avoided, however, as the average calculations are more complicated than can be managed by spreadsheets. Even if it were possible, it would be impossible to verify all calculations. A typical emission reporting system, on the other hand, can easily handle 15 different signals. This gives a total of 47 million measurements in a year.

Example of a monthly report indicating how the different reports can be chosen

There are many factors to consider when choosing a reporting system: both the technical choices of analysers and the technical platform, as well as the more subtle choices, such as which supplier to work with and how to ensure the project is successful. A good starting point is to choose a system with a certification. In the EU, there is a choice between systems that have TÜV and MCERTS certifications. Both increase the likelihood of having a quality and solid product, and meeting demands. Unfortunately, there are also uncertified solutions on the market that either do not meet all the considerations for good reporting requires, or have quality assured systems. Ultimately, a good working partner must be found. Environmental reporting requires regular maintenance of analysers by service technicians. Collaborative partners should get to know the analysers and how they need to be serviced. Those new to environmental reporting, will probably have questions at the beginning and training will be needed.

As part of a strict quality policy, an important part in the development of the FLSmidth environmental reporting system was the certification process. In December 2015, the ReportLoqTM system was granted the MCERTS product conformity certificate.

Environmental reporting of the future
FLSmidth identified that the requirements for emission reporting systems were growing, including higher uptime, logging of data every 10 sec., preventing manipulation and fraud, being compliant with EU legislation and other country‑specific directives, the ease with which the environmental manager of several plants can get an overview, and access to support and updates. Using a traditional emission reporting system, based on a stand-alone server system, FLSmidth could see it would be difficult to fulfil all these requirements, especially providing an overview of several plants, as well as the easy support and easy upgrades. FLSmidth therefore started developing a new web-based emissions reporting system called ReportLoq.

A webbased reporting system
ReportLoq consists of an onsite controller and an onsite server that collect all environmental data from the analysis equipment as raw values. All raw values are transferred via a secure internet connection to the FLSmidth data centre. Should a connection breakdown occur between the onsite server and the data centre, the collection of data will continue on the onsite server, which has the capacity for up to 6 months’ data storage. For extra security in the ReportLoq system, the onsite controller stores data for up to 30 days. After the re-establishment of an internet connection, all missing raw values will automatically be uploaded to the FLSmidth data centre, where all data will be securely stored for a minimum of 5 years.

The web-based reporting system collects emission data every 10 sec. for environmental reporting purposes. Measurements are aggregated in STA and LTA calculations, using QAL2, QAL3, normalisation and confidence intervals. ReportLoq provides functionality to trend, view comment, and export raw and aggregated data upon request, as well as QAL functionality as described in EN14181.

Real-time monitoring
ReportLoq ensures that operating technicians can monitor the current emissions values, not only as traditional raw values, but also QAL2- and QAL3-corrected, normalised and validated values, using a simple user interface. Trends can be generated according to user needs, based on emissions components or desired time intervals. Instances of environmental breaches will appear as alarms, which can be commented on directly in ReportLoq. These comments can be printed as environmental exceeding reports and forwarded directly to the environmental authorities or used internally. Advanced prevention alarms, based on projections of current emissions data, enable the operator to respond appropriately in order to avoid non-compliance with environmental requirements. All data is securely stored on FLSmidth’s data centre, which also ensures automatic backup and removes the need for operation and maintenance of local server solutions.

Data validation
Each measured value will be saved in the reporting system with a describing status, explaining the conditions when the measurement was taken. The values recorded during shutdown, calibration, and analyser faults need to be managed correctly, and should not affect the STA calculations.

All these validation methods are continuously used in connection with system updates, guaranteeing that all data is correct and functional.

Ongoing maintenance
Backup and data protection of all environmental data is carried out by FLSmidth’s IT department. Monitoring of site data – age of logged data, controller status, onsite PC, etc. – is carried out by experts from the reporting department.

Future changes to emission requirements
It is possible that rules will change over time, and that, for example, limit values will be affected by a change of regulations to lower them. Imagine that today, the STA limit for SO2 is 200 mg/Nm3, and that it needs to be changed to 150 mg/Nm3 from tomorrow. The reporting system is designed so that the new values are stored with a from date, indicating when the threshold value should come into force. This ensures that data substitution and recalculation for earlier data still uses the old limit values. If the new and lower limit value is used for past recordings, this will generate undesired breaches and provide an incorrect overview, which is a problem as the data used can be 5 – 10 years old.

At the same time, the flexible system ensures that changes in the environmental permits can be implemented without calling for a larger restructuring of environmental reporting.

Availability and security
The transfer of measured values to the website is managed by the SiteManager/GateManager solution from Secomea. Secomea creates industrial equipment for remote access to data equipment via TCP/IP protocols, via a solution similar to VPN, using X.509 certificates for end‑to‑end encryption. The solution creates a connection between the FLSmidth data centre and the local reporting equipment, by creating a subnet including the equipment. The solution ensures that data can be safely transferred to the FLSmidth data centre, without the risk of third‑party involvement.

Implementation at Lhoist in Denmark
At Lhoist Faxe Kalk, an important objective was to reduce emissions of harmful gasses, such as NOX, in order to minimise any negative impact on the environment, and be in accordance with local legislation. Consequently, there was a need for a more stable analyser system at the kiln, which would provide accurate measurement of the connection between excess oxygen and NOX in the kiln, as well as a new emission reporting system.

The FLSmidth KilnLoq®  kiln inlet gas analysis solution with ReportLoq emission reporting system was chosen to provide full control over kiln fuel consumption and emissions. Through this, the plant reduced NOX emissions, improved daily operations, and reduced maintenance requirements.

By being able to continuously measure O2, NO and CO at the kiln inlet, Lhoist Faxe Kalk has reduced the oxygen at the kiln inlet from 4.0 Vol. % to 1 – 1.5 Vol.%, which minimised excess air and lowered total fuel consumption and emissions. It also significantly reduced the risk of explosive CO being formed, thus improving the safety of the entire system. The solution provided accurate NO measurements, which is a convenient way of monitoring NOX emissions. Such accurate measurements allow the operator to react and make the necessary adjustments when excessive levels of NO are detected, thereby avoiding emissions being exceeded.

The ReportLoq system not only reports on the emissions, but also includes reports on power consumption and product storage.

Thomas Maul, Process Specialist at Faxe Kalk explained: “Our old Excel‑based emission reporting system was not easy to use, and we could only access it from the kiln control room. Also, we didn’t have a QAL3 tool.”

Maul and his team chose FLSmidth’s ReportLoq system, which could combine all emissions data together with useful process and production data. It also provided full accessibility to all data from anywhere in the plant. With the successful implementation of the KilnLoq gas analysis solution and ReportLoq data reporting system, Lhoist Faxe Kalk has continued its core operations of lime processing with a reduced environmental footprint and more stable operating conditions.

The focus on emissions and emission reporting is growing worldwide, especially following COP21. Together with the CSI, this focus is also present in the cement industry. It is therefore important to achieve a well-functioning emission reporting system, which fulfils local legislation requirements and provides reporting, trends, and the option to make comments on alarms and events. On top of these general requirements, a reliable, quality-approved environmental reporting system provides the reputational benefits in the benchmarking of carbon footprint that are associated with being an early and proactive mover on emission reduction and reporting, as well as showing readiness to respond to mandatory emission reduction and reporting requirements. 

*This article was already published in World Cement, May 2017

Watch how FLSmidth's ReportLoq provides gas analysis, reporting and service in a single package here>

Christian Markussen

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