Local news

Using peanut shells as a renewable energy source to reduce GHG emissions in Andersonville

Our Andersonville plant in the USA is reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by fueling its kilns with a renewable local biomass source – peanut shells.

Imerys Andersonville: using peanut shell as a renewable energy source

Reducing emissions with biomass

Our Andersonville plant’s Mulcoa brand is recognized as the global benchmark in high-quality sintered mullite production, made from the region's renowned refractory-grade kaolin clay using a unique 50-year-old process. 

Located in the heart of Georgia’s peanut-producing region, the site has historically relied on coal and natural gas to fuel its kilns. However, in alignment with our Group’s ambitious strategy to reduce its Greenhouse gas emissions, the facility has embarked on a mission to move away from fossil fuels and embrace a more sustainable energy source – biomass waste.

The benefits of this project are twofold. Firstly, it is expected to reduce our plant's GHGs by 110,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, which equates to a 4% reduction in Imerys' total annual GHG emissions.

Supporting our refractory customers' sustainable development goals

In a context of high energy price fluctuation, using local biomass also helps us to be more resilient and agile, to the benefit of our customers. Leah Wilson, our Chief Sustainability Officer, says: "As we reduce our own emissions, we are able to provide our customers with lower carbon minerals, helping them create more sustainable value.

To facilitate the transition to biomass energy, we have made significant upgrades to our Andersonville facility. This work includes the installation of new high-efficiency biomass burners for the kilns, specially designed to operate on the peanut shell feedstock. 

The plant's entire material handling and storage systems were also modernized to accommodate the shift away from fossil fuels.

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Imerys Andersonville

"Switching from heavy fuel to biomass or low-carbon alternatives is a key aspect of our roadmap,” explains Leah. “We have around 20 fuel switching projects in our climate pipeline that represent a total of 295,000 tonnes of CO2 reduction between now and 2030 – many of these are biomass related.

This initiative also leverages a short supply circuit, ensuring efficiency and reducing transportation emissions. By integrating biomass, we foster new business opportunities for local agriculture, enhancing the regional economy.

Graham REID, Hub Director for the refractories, abrasives & construction related activities in the Americas, says: “For an energy-intensive site like ours, making this investment was an absolute necessity. It's easy to talk about going more sustainable, but we're actively demonstrating our willingness to make the necessary investments to drive real change.

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