What are the numbers*?

* Annually

What is it?

It is the final disposal of waste through its integration into the cement production process as a secondary raw material or wastes-derived fuel. In other words, it is a technique used for the permanent disposal of waste without generating environmental liabilities, by harnessing the energy and/or mineral potential of the material.

Coprocessing uses waste material duly prepared in different phases of the production process replacing natural raw materials and fossil fuels. Cement production, which nowadays adopts coprocessing in some of its important stages, consists of obtaining minerals through the extraction of limestone (source of calcium) and clay (source of iron, silicate and aluminum), or through the use of secondary raw materials (ex.: construction and demolition waste), which undergoes a crushing and grinding process to which some corrective materials can be added (sand, iron and aluminum ores, high content limestone, etc.) until a very fine material known as "meal" is obtained. After homogenization, the meal flows to the kiln and goes through a controlled thermal process (with a required minimum temperature of 1450º degrees Celsius) to form a by-product called clinker. Fuels assume an important role in the thermal process and can have fossil origin or treated wastes with power heat (ex.: used tires, treated urban waste, oil sludge, biomass wastes and biomass, etc.). In Cement Industry, the ashes coming from the burning process are also reincorporated into the clinker mineral matrix replacing mineral resources. The clinker together with gypsum and other additions are finely grinding created different types of cement, in compliance with national regulation.
The co-processing activity is carried out in cement plants, is a process that provides for the definitive, adequate, safe, environmentally sustainable processing of waste while also improving the quality of the cement produced.

CIMPOR recognises co-processing as a mechanism of industrial symbiosis and is an example of a circular economy, working to replace the old linear economic model of “extraction, transformation, disposal” to recover and recycle materials and energy sustainably.

Coprocessing as a tool for decarbonisation and sustainability at CIMPOR.

The international strategy for waste management is to promote sustainable management practices and more widespread recycling, using resources sustainably.

Moving towards a sustainable development model that returns materials/waste to the production cycle should be a priority for all countries and industries. This is how the concept of a Circular economy emerged, in which the basic principle is that of the efficient use of resources, prevention and sustainable consumption:

The cement industry has developed several actions over time in line with the principles of a Circular economy, as provided in the following infographic: 

Operations geared towards reusing and recovering waste or energy are prioritised over disposal operations that lead to lower efficiency and a loss of resources. As such, CIMPOR has implemented coprocessing operations of Refuse Derived Fuels (RDF) and secondary raw materials in its factories.

The co-processing of fuels is, by definition, the processing of materials derived from waste and secondary raw materials in cement production. The process is a safe and definitive solution to waste disposal.

Co-processing is carried out in compliance with all legal requirements. The process is monitored, and its environmental soundness upheld, ensuring it contributes to reducing the use of non-renewable natural resources while also providing economic advantages by reducing costs and energy dependence and generating jobs. 

Operations geared towards reusing and recovering waste or energy are prioritised over disposal operations that lead to lower efficiency and a loss of resources.

As such, Cimpor has implemented coprocessing operations of alternative fuelas and secondary raw materials in its Plants.

The co-processing of fuels is, by definition, the processing of substances derived from waste and secondary raw materials in cement production furnaces. The process is a safe, definitive, environmentally friendly solution to waste disposal, being monitored and its environmental soundness upheld, ensuring it reduces the use of non-renewable natural resources while also providing economic advantages by reducing costs and energy dependence, as well as generating jobs.

At CIMPOR, co-processing operations are carried out using state-of-the-art technology in line with that used by the most advanced companies in our sector, this being a process that is monitored by the Portuguese legal authorities certifying our environmental standards. 

Co-processing operations begin with a technical assessment of the potential uses of alternative fuels and secondary raw materials. This phase is essential and several variables are taken into account, such as the type, classification, origin, thermal potential, moisture, and homogeneity, among others. Only once technical feasibility and legal compliance have been confirmed may such material be supplied in the plant.

Waste management operators play a decisive role in these operations, as they provide facilities in which waste is transformed into Refuse Derived Fuels (RDF) and secondary raw materials.

Co-processing operations have been carried out at CIMPOR's plants since 2007, with several plant adaptation projects having been carried out, resulting in significant investments made.

The investments allows the Cement plants to receive, store, transport and feed alternative fuels to the kilns. Investments were also made to control air pollutant emissions to ensure their use is safe and environmentally sound.

(fig 1.) Installation of refuse-derived fuel reception and storage at the Souselas plant. (Fig 2.) Transport and supply refuse-derived fuels to Pre-heather tower of Kiln 7 in Alhandra.

Some of our projects have national and international recognition as benchmarks in the sector. One of the projects obtained an honourable mention in the 10th edition of the Green Project Awards. The project involved an investment made into installing a dryer that uses the residual heat of furnace gases to dry refuse-derived fuels in Souselas.

Throughout the last decade, co-processing operations in our manufacturing units have diverted over 1.7 million tonnes of unrecyclable waste from landfills - mostly textiles, plastics, used tyres and waste oils. This is equivalent to the total amount of municipal waste produced in Portugal over 2 years. In terms of CO2 emissions, co-processing operations have reduced the CO2 produced per year by 1 Mt, which is equivalent to the emissions from road traffic in the city of Porto over an entire year.

Coprocessing role is growing day after day, these operations are set to become increasingly important in the coming years, with plans already in place to expand the co-processing capacity of CIMPOR plants and replace over 70% of the fossil fuels used in our furnaces with alternative fuels. This will require new investments to be made into the best technologies available. This will allow for around 250,000 tonnes of waste to be diverted from landfills annually, producing the following results:

Cimpor sees co-processing as a strategic operation that contributes to:

  •  Achieve national and European waste targets;
  • Consolidate the principles of the circular economy;
  • Adding value to an entire waste management chain;
  • implement the best available technologies for waste treatment, using solutions that minimise investments and processing costs.


Project Data:
Project No.POCI-01-0249-FEDER-000770
Project Name:Modification of the alternative fuel feeding operation for high PCI RDF-MSW co-processing in the main burner of a cement kiln.
Support as part of the Productive Innovation Incentive System
Primary Objective:To boost research, technological development, and innovation.
Approval date:7/10/2015
Start date:2/5/2015
Completion date:30/4/2017
Total eligible cost:3,650,666 EUR
European Regional Development Fund:FEDER - 2,007,866.30 EUR
National/regional public financial support:not applicable

Project Overview:

In early November 2016, the new drying facility and upgraded transportation of RDF to the main burner of Souselas Kiln 3 were made operational. 

This project aims to fundamentally alter the alternative clinker production fuel supply system to kiln 3 as it seeks to implement a series of actions that will allow for the use of RDF-MSW (Refuse Derived Fuels with Municipal Solid Waste), with high caloric power, which will, in turn, allow for a substantial reduction in costs, in both energy production and in CO2 emission licences. To increase the calorific value of the RDF-MSW, it must be dried to reduce its moisture content. One of the innovations planned as part of this amendment is using heat from excess air - a by-product of the production process - to dry the RDF-MSW, therefore contributing to the efficiency of the production process.

This solution helps increase the reliability of RDF transportation systems to the Main Burner by replacing the current pneumatic system that uses mechanical conveyors. A dryer will also be installed to remove moisture from the RDF, with an evaporation capacity of 3 t/h, using excess hot air from the cooler.

The intention is to increase the rate of thermal replacement in the main burner. Before the project implementation, the Souselas plant co-processed 2.5 to 3.0 t/h of RDW with 20 to 40% moisture. With this alteration, it seeks to co-process up to 7.0 t/h of RDW with 15% moisture. The amounts of RDW able to be effectively fed into the to QP will only be limited by the amount of chlorine in the RDW itself.

Dryer Technical Specifications: 

Supplier: STELA

Screen dryer: type BT 1/6200-12, is designed for:

  • Product: RDW with no foreign bodies (loose, not frozen, dust-free, 10ºC);
  • Density: 100 - 250 kg/m3 (moist);
  • Average retention time for drying: 6 - 30 min, adjustable;
  • Height of material on screen: 70 - 140 mm;
  • Inlet air temperature: approx. 90ºC;
  • RDW flow rate at dryer inlet: 10,0 t/h;
  • RDW flow rate at the dryer outlet: 7,0 t/h;
  • Humidity of RDW at dryer inlet: 40%;
  • Humidity of RDW at dryer outlet: approx. 15%;
  • Water evaporation: 3,0 t/h;
  • Drying area: aprox. 74,4m2 (active drying area within the flow of hot air);
  • Fresh air: temperature 40ºC, 30-70% relative humidity, dust-free;
  • Dust emission: < 20 mg/Nm3 humid.

Events Following Completion of the Project:

The project obtained an honourable mention in the 10th edition of the Green Project Awards - GPA Portugal, in the Efficient Resource Management category. This event took place on the 12th of January 2018, at the Porto Customshouse Congress Centre.

"We are pleased to receive the award and are very honoured by the public recognition, which we can put down to the commitment of our teams to finding innovative, environmentally sustainable solutions. We received mentions from several official entities that made up the jury of the event, such as the President of the Portuguese Environment Agency, Nuno Lacasta, and the Portuguese Minister of Environment, Eng João Pedro Matos Fernandes, who made clear mention of the importance of the company's work to the entire community" said Sandro Conceição, superintendent of Cimpor's Co-processing Area.

Cimpor published an article on the project in the March 2018 issue of the International Cement Review magazine, which was written by Eng Francisco Leitão, Cimpor's Performance Programme manager.

To read the article, click here.. 

The project was recognised for reaching standards of excellence in the production and sustainable use of alternative fuels, having been awarded second place in MVW Lechtenberg e Partner's Alternative Fuel Award.

The project competed with over 20 others run by cement manufacturers, waste management and RDW companies worldwide. The specialists reinforced that RDW with increased moisture content that would not have been co-processed previously could now be used thanks to these developments. The implementation of the project has led to an increase in the thermal replacement of furnace 3 from 2.5 t/h with an average humidity of between 30% and 40% to 7 t/h of RDW with an average humidity of 15%.

Thanks to this recognition by the team of experts, the project was included in the official program of the 5th Alternative Fuels Symposium, which was performed between the 19th and 21st of September 2018 in Duisburg, Germany, and presented in a plenary session. The awards ceremony was also performed during the Symposium.


Dados do Projeto:

Projeto N:º POCI-01-0249-FEDER-000770

Designação do Projeto: Alteração da operação de alimentação de combustíveis alternativos para coprocessamento de CDR-RSU com elevado PCI no queimador principal de um forno cimenteiro.

Apoio no âmbito do Sistema de Incentivos à Inovação empresarial produtiva

Objetivo principal: Reforçar a investigação, o desenvolvimento tecnológico e a inovação.

Região de intervenção: Souselas

Entidade beneficiária: CIMPOR INDÚSTRIA DE CIMENTOS, S.A.

Data de aprovação: 7-10-2015

Data de início: 2-5-2015

Data de conclusão: 30-4-2017

Custo total elegível: 3.650.666 EUR

Apoio Financeiro da União Europeia: FEDER - 2.007.866,30 EUR

Apoio financeiro Público nacional/regional: não aplicável

Síntese do Projeto:

No início de novembro de 2016, foi colocada em serviço a nova instalação de secagem e o upgrade do transporte de CDR’s ao queimador principal do Forno 3 de Souselas. 

Este projeto visa uma alteração fundamental ao sistema de alimentação de combustíveis alternativos ao forno 3 de produção de clínquer, na medida em que prevê uma série de ações no sentido de permitir a utilização de CDR-RSU (Combustíveis Derivados de Resíduos com Resíduos Sólidos Urbanos) com elevado poder calorífico, facto que irá permitir uma redução substancial dos custos energéticos de produção e de licenças para emissões de CO2. Para aumentar o poder calorífico dos CDR-RSU é necessário secá-los de forma a reduzir a sua humidade. Uma das inovações previstas nesta alteração é a utilização do calor do ar de excesso, que é desperdiçado no processo de produção, para a secagem dos CDR-RSU, o que contribui para a eficiência do processo produtivo. 

Com esta solução, irá ser incrementada, de forma significativa, a fiabilidade do sistema de transporte de CDR ao Queimador Principal, pela substituição do atual sistema pneumático por transportadores mecânicos. Será instalado igualmente um secador para retirar humidade aos CDR’s, com capacidade de evaporação de 3 t/h, através da utilização do ar quente de excesso do arrefecedor.

Pretende-se o incremento da taxa de substituição térmica no queimador principal. Antes da implementação do projeto, a fábrica de Souselas coprocessava 2,5 a 3,0 t/h de CDR’s com 20 a 40% de humidade, e, com a implementação do projeto, passará a poder coprocessar até 7,0 t/h de CDR’s com 15% de humidade. A limitação das quantidades efetivas de alimentação de CDR’s ao QP será a quantidade de cloro proveniente dos próprios CDR’s.

Especificações Técnicas do Secador: 

Fornecedor: STELA
Secador de tela: tipo BT 1/6200-12, foi projectado para:

  • Produto: CDRs sem corpos estranhos (solto, não congelado, sem poeiras, 10ºC);
  • Densidade: 100 – 250 kg/m3 (húmido);
  • Tempo de retenção médio para secagem: 6 – 30 min, ajustável;
  • Altura de material na tela: 70 – 140 mm;
  • Temperatura do ar na entrada: aprox. 90ºC;
  • Caudal CDR’s na entrada do secador: 10,0 t/h;
  • Caudal CDR’s na saída do secador: 7,0 t/h;
  • Humidade dos CDR’s na entrada do secador: 40%;
  • Humidade dos CDR’s na saída do secador: aprox. 15%;
  • Evaporação de água: 3,0 t/h;
  • Área de secagem: aprox. 74,4m2 (área de secagem ativa com passagem de ar quente);
  • Ar fresco: temperatura 40ºC, 30-70% de humidade relativa, sem pó;
  • Emissão de poeiras: < 20 mg/Nm3 húmido.

Eventos Posteriores à conclusão do projeto:

O projeto obteve uma menção honrosa na 10.ª edição do Green Project Awards – GPA Portugal, na categoria Gestão Eficiente de Recursos. Este evento ocorreu no dia 12 de janeiro, no Centro de Congressos Alfandegários da cidade do Porto.

“É com satisfação que recebemos o prémio e estamos muito honrados pelo reconhecimento público, que resulta do comprometimento das equipas em busca de soluções inovadoras e ambientalmente sustentáveis. Fomos mencionados pelas diversas entidades oficiais que faziam parte do júri do evento, como o Presidente da Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente, Dr. Nuno Lacasta e o Ministro do Ambiente de Portugal, Eng. João Pedro Matos Fernandes, indicando claramente a importância do trabalho da empresa para toda a comunidade” referiu o Eng.Sandro Conceição, superintendente da Área de Coprocessamento da Cimpor.

Na edição de março da revista International Cement Review, a Cimpor publicou um artigo sobre o projeto, da autoria do Eng. Francisco Leitão gerente da Área do Programa Performance da Cimpor.

Para aceder ao artigo, por favor clique aqui. 

O projeto foi reconhecido como uma prática de excelência quanto à produção e uso sustentável de combustíveis alternativos e conquistou o segundo lugar na premiação Alternative Fuel, promovido pela MVW Lechtenberg & Partner.

O projeto concorreu com mais de 20 iniciativas de fabricantes de cimento e de empresas de gestão de resíduos e de produção de CDR's de todo o mundo. Os especialistas reforçaram a ideia de que CDR's que anteriormente não seriam coprocessados pelo alto teor de humidade, com a implementação do projeto passaram a ser utilizados. A implementação do projeto permitiu ampliar a substituição térmica do forno 3 de 2,5 t/h, com humidade média entre 30% e 40%, para 7 t/h de CDR's, com humidade média de 15%.

Com este reconhecimento pela equipa de especialistas, o projeto foi incluído no programa oficial do 5º Simpósio sobre Combustíveis Alternativos, organizado entre 19 e 21 de setembro de 2018, em Duisburg, na Alemanha, e apresentado em plenário. A cerimónia de premiação também foi realizada durante o Simpósio.