ENVIRONMENT

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Initiative

Εxploit Milos island climate conditions for bentonite drying

Εxploit Milos island climate conditions for bentonite drying
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IMERYS Industrial Minerals Greece Single-Member Société Anonyme

IMERYS Group is the world leader in mineral-based industrial solutions, offering specialized solutions necessary for its customers. IMERYS INDUSTRIAL MINERALS GREECE SINGLE MEMBER SOCIETE ANONYME mines and processes industrial minerals, mainly bentonite and perlite.

 

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More information: https://www.imerys.com


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Objective Action

Reduce energy consumption in an environmentally friendly way.

 

Target Audience

Milos environment

 

Duration

This process has been developed and optimized during the last 3 decades and is still implemented.


Description

Imerys Group is particularly sensitive to issues regarding energy consumption, as much in response to the problem of climate change and because energy cost constitutes a significant portion of total production cost. 

Every year around 1,000,000 MTs of bentonite are mined on Milos island by Imerys Industrial Minerals Greece S.A. and almost all of that quantity has to be dried to about 15% on average. Milos is the largest European mining center for bentonite, a mineral with applications in foundries, iron ore pelletizing, civil engineering, per litter markets to name a few. It is estimated that Imerys production on Milos covers some 30% of the total European bentonite production.   

Significant energy saving is achieved by exploiting Milos’ climatic conditions -that is high temperature and wind during summer- for the natural pre-drying of bentonite in open fields, resulting in approximately 35% annual energy savings, compared to the energy that would be required if industrial drying was exclusively used. 

It is estimated that some 100.000 MTs of water are evaporated on a yearly basis through this field drying process. This is equivalent to actual savings of about 7,500 MTs of annual heavy fuel oil consumption, corresponding to CO2 emissions reduction in the range of 24,000 MT per annum. Milos is an island in the Aegean Sea, an energy importer (fuel transportation with vessels) and the above savings constitute a significant reduction not only of Imerys’ energy consumption but of the total energy consumption of the island.  

Another indirect effect of air drying is the increase in resource efficiency through the effective blending of variable bentonite qualities, allowing no sacrifice of raw materials and without undermining the quality for the end application. This is based on the fact that air drying takes place in large fields with sequential deposition of bentonite layers of relatively small thickness on top of each other. Each layer is left to dry for a couple of weeks, being intermittently exposed to air with use of agricultural type plough equipment. This process gives a lot of flexibility in blending, allowing optimal use of reserves of variable quality. In addition the mild drying conditions do not lead to destruction of the crystalline structure of bentonite, which is inherently associated with industrial drying, increasing therefore resource efficiency further.


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Impact on Society

It is estimated that some 100.000 MTs of water are evaporated on a yearly basis through this field drying process. This is equivalent to actual savings of about 7,500 MTs of annual heavy fuel oil consumption, corresponding to CO2 emissions reduction in the range of 24,000 MT per annum. 

Due to the size of the operations it can be claimed that the project alone contributes to 10% drying energy savings for the entire European bentonite production in average terms.  There is no other example of such a massive energy reduction per tonnage of mineral by utilizing air-drying in the industrial minerals sector to our knowledge.
Milos is a small island with various climatic particularities, among which strong winds, lasting drought during the summer and rainfalls during winter months. Taking advantage of these prevailing conditions, bentonite is pre-dried in open-fields. So, renewable sources of energy (high temperatures combined with wind) compensate for energy that would otherwise have to be derived from a non-renewable fossil fuel energy source. This practice promotes the wise use of non-renewable resources as a route to efficiency and sustainable progress. Natural air-drying is a direct use of renewable energy resources. Thus, given the size of the Milos Imerys bentonite operations and the big impact it has to the entire European bentonite supply, its sustainability dimension constitutes a remarkable achievement for the sector. It raises awareness in a sense that all colleagues involved in mining have to be aware of, targeting to decrease fuel consumption, contributing therefore to minerals sector image as a wise energy consumer. 
The practice also contributes to innovation resting in its simplicity: exploiting practices and equipment used predominantly in agriculture.



Initiative Location

Bentonite processing facility of Imerys Industrial Minerals Greece S.A. at Voudia on Milos island, Greece.


Working with Organization

No, this practice has been developed by Imerys engineers.


Workers Participation

Engineers and workers at the Imerys bentonite facility in Milos.


Benefits for Οrganization

This process has been developed and optimized during the last 3 decades. Major benefits are the fuel consumption reduction and the bentonite resources optimization in an island solely dependent on energy imports. Annual energy savings of approximately 35% is estimated compared to the energy that would be required if industrial drying was exclusively. This is equivalent to actual savings of about 7,500 MTs of annual heavy fuel oil consumption, corresponding to CO2 emissions reduction in the range of 24,000 MT per annum.




Connection with Global Goals



No Connection with Global Goals found





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