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National Cement of Alabama Inaugurates
$300-million Addition to Longtime Ragland Operation

National Cement of Alabama commissioned the new kiln line in a ceeremony on July 21, 2022.
National Cement Company of Alabama's longtime Ragland manufacturing plant is just concluding a two-year, $300-million project to install cement production equipment designed to take advantage of the very latest carbon reduction practices and modern energy technologies, chiefly substituting fossil fuels with alternative fuels.

The key component of the production line is a rotary kiln that replaces coal with various fuels such as recycled wood chips, saw dust from area furniture and cabinet manufacturers, and Tire-Derived Fuels (TDF) composed of shredded scrap tires.

Guy Sidos, Chairman and CEO of the Vicat Group, notes : “It is our fervent ambition to use alternative fuels in all of our cement plants throughout the world. We are firmly and actively committed to replacing fossil-derived energy with regional recycled wastes, taking an ecological stand today that transitions and reduces our carbon footprint. We insist our investments contribute to local development and we’re extremely proud of the modernization and transformation of Ragland, our very first acquisition outside of France.”

The new Ragland kiln line will increase the existing plant’s capacity, improve the thermal and electrical efficiency of the production line, and help lower the company’s overall CO2 emissions. Additionally, the major upgrade of the production line will allow for the introduction of a new low carbon cement to our customers in the southeast.

“This highly energy-efficient operation, combined with our new clinker, will make our cementitious product one of the lowest carbon cements in this market,” says R. Spencer Weitman, President of National Cement Company of Alabama. “This major investment on behalf of the Vicat Group results in at least a 40% reduction in our carbon footprint, vastly improves our environmental impact and is a big step in the entire cement industry’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality across the concrete value chain by 2050.”

National Cement of Alabama embarked on the ambitious construction project in January 2020 first with complex civil engineering site work and slipform construction of a 256-ft blending silo. During 2021, crews simultaneously erected a vertical raw mill, a preheater tower with an advanced kiln line and cooler, an automated clay storage system, an alternative fuel storage facility and finally, a fully automatic integrated laboratory and control center.

The primary goal of the improvement project is to meet the global climate challenge head-on and be ready for the Southeast’s coming demand for building materials that have a lower carbon footprint. “By 2023, it’s expected that all of the Type I general purpose portland cement (OPC) produced in Ragland will be switched to Type IL portland-limestone cement (PLC), an innovative blended cement that contains up to 15% limestone,” notes Weitman.

On hand for the July 21, 2022 commissioning are (left to right) Eric Bourdon, Deputy Managing Director, Vicat Group, Spencer Weitman, President, National Cement Company of Alabama, Inc., Hervé Lapillonne, Project Manager, Vicat Group, Pascal Lamontagne, Plant Manager, National Cement Company of Alabama, Inc., Guy Sidos, President and CEO, Vicat Group, Marie Godard Pithon, Manager of Performances and Investments, Jean-Claude Brocheton, Sr. VP of Engineering, National Cement Company of Alabama, Inc., Pascal Meric, Corporate Cement Director, Vicat Group, Éric Holard, CEO, National Cement Company, Inc.