“Regain said they had a mechanism which was patented by them that took the cyanide and reactive gases out of their waste products,” he says. “I had read a bit about spent potlining … I thought it was interesting but I need to know more. But then Regain started talking to us and said 'No, we actually cook in the kiln and drive the dangerous gases off'.”
Michael then began to wonder what Regain could do for Adelaide Brighton.
“When I realized that here are some aluminum guys with a waste product, which at the time was going to landfill, and they were likely to be able to get it at an extremely cheap price, that prompted us to go ahead and see if we could do business with them,” he says.
It was a relationship derived out of necessity as when the price of natural gas started to climb a few years ago, Michael knew they needed to keep their fuel costs down to remain competitive in the market.
“Our problem I suppose is, like any Australian industry our cost basis is quite high compared to some of the Asian countries, in relation to labor and staff,” he says. “Our energy costs were quite good, we have good technology, but we could just see that, that was the direction.”
After employing Regain, Michael says that there has been a small yet significant reduction in fuel costs, which is one of their highest expenses.
“Fuel for a cement manufacturer is the single biggest cost. It's higher than labor, it's higher than power, it's higher than raw materials,” he says.
While Regain’s economic impact has been important, Michael says Regain’s effect on their emissions has been in his own words, “extremely significant”.
“The main positive and biggest impact that we didn't expect from Regain, was that it has dropped our nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions dramatically,” he says. “Anytime you burn fuel, whether in your car or in a gas pipe house, you'll generate thermal NOx, which is a greenhouse gas. Before using carbon powder, we ran at 90% of our NOx limit set by the EPA. Now we are running at 50 to 60%!”
It is both the economic and environmental benefits that Michael says will see Adelaide Brighton and Regain continue working together in the future, though it’s clear the 40% reduction in thermal NOx, is what keeps him excited at the present.
“It’s been a big change and we didn't expect it,” he says enthusiastically. “We even thought the original measurement might have been a mistake, so did another test and it was the same.”