When the cement manufacturing plant in the village of Ravena in Albany County, N.Y., was built in 1962, it was considered the most advanced production facility of its kind in the world.
But that was more than 50 years ago, and a lot has changed since then.
Chicago-based Lafarge North America Inc., currently is overseeing a multi-million dollar modernization project that will result in one of the most advanced dry-kiln facilities in the nation.
Originally proposed in 2008 and granted an extension of project timeline by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) in late 2013, modernization of the facility will reduce demand for fuel resources such as coal and significantly cut plant emissions. Currently voluntarily operating under a first of its kind mercury emissions cap, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and mercury (Hg) emissions from the plant will be reduced by an additional 20 percent over the next three years until the new plant comes online.
Hundreds of construction jobs will be created during the project, in the process adding an estimated $170 million to the economy of Ravena and beyond. The modernization also will mean the retention of 110 local jobs, previously threatened by a potential shutdown due to production costs and overall economic conditions.
The new facility will be in place by mid-year 2016.
An official groundbreaking ceremony was held in April 2014 and was attended by a number of national, state and local elected officials and regional leaders, who supported the project and helped celebrate the event.
Lafarge has already signed binding contracts for vendor fabrication of the kiln, kiln motors, preheater cyclones and clinker cooler components of the replacement kiln. Fabrication of that equipment is under way and the first deliveries are planned for early fall.
“The project involves much coordination based on the complexity and phases of construction, in addition to the considerable amount of heavy equipment, steel and resources being used, and has been progressing on schedule and on budget,” said John Light, senior project manager at Lafarge North America Inc.
“The core of the project involves the replacement of Ravena’s two long wet kilns with a preheater/precalciner kiln, and the installation of a wet scrubber and SNCR technologies that provide a major reduction in emissions. There will also be a new raw mill, fuel grinding mill, and many new dust collectors,” he said.
In a wet kiln system limestone is ground up in a slurry mill and the resultant liquid slurry is fed to the kilns. “However,” said Michael Kralik, Ravena cement plant manager, “much energy is required to evaporate that liquid before the cement process can begin. A typical wet kiln is approximately 600 feet long for the required retention time to get that work done. In a dry system the limestone is ground up dry and fed dry into the kiln.
“Add to that the application of the preheater tower, which Ravena will have, and the new dry kiln is only approximately 200 feet long. The preheater uses kiln exhaust gases to preheat the incoming dry feed, increasing the thermal efficiency. The end product will be the same due to the limestone coming from the same quarry,” he added.
Originally constructed by the Atlantic Cement Company, Lafarge acquired the plant in 2001, bringing to six the cement manufacturing facilities it owns in this country. The Ravena plant is located on an approximately 3,000-acre site that also includes a nature trail on 150 acres of wild habitat. The original facility was built there to take advantage of its proximity to limestone outcroppings and the Hudson River, and the new plant will continue to utilize these natural features.
With an annual manufacturing capacity of more than a million tons of cement, the company has supplied many high profile projects in the northeast, including the Freedom Tower and World Trade Center Memorial in Manhattan and the Global Foundries plant in Malta, N.Y.
In summing up the impact of the Ravena project, Lafarge’s Light noted that “we are bringing today’s energy efficient technologies to Ravena. When the project is complete, Ravena will once again rank as one of the world’s most advanced cement production facilities, and can look forward to a long future and continued contribution to its community, while offering our customers the consistent, high quality and reliable product they have come to expect from Lafarge.”
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