Tracking emissions with Viridis Carbon

Susan Strumbo
Marketing & Communications

The decarbonization of industrial processes is one of the urgent environmental commitments that have become more challenging since the Katowice climate package at COP24. Policymakers and corporations need reliable information to develop effective policies, guidelines, and environmental control mechanisms. Obtaining transparent information on emissions from complex production processes, such as steelmaking, is difficult, as the data in steel plants is scattered across various sources, so compiling inventories and reports becomes a time-consuming process requiring greater transparency.

Digitalization is an inevitable path to the new way industries need to operate and is essential for managing vast amounts of information. It involves integrated intelligence that can transform numerous pieces of data into valuable insights. SMS has developed Viridis Carbon, a digital solution that tracks and manages emissions in the steel industry in real-time. It enables bottom-up tracking of direct emissions and offers a reliable methodology for accounting, managing, and reporting indirect emissions. In addition, it fully supports industry certifications such as ISO 50001 and ISO 14064. Certificates with directly measured carbon footprints, thereby improving the transparency and accountability of carbon emissions, can be provided for each individual product. As a result, customers can find out how green their steel is.

Calculating the emissions

To calculate emissions, industrial processes are mapped, and boundaries are established for each function, thus creating a unit system. Raw material streams entering the system are considered indirect emissions generated outside the boundary limits. Emission streams generated within the system boundaries, such as particulate matter or greenhouse gases (GHGs), are regarded as direct emissions, whether these are fugitive or stack emissions. This bottom-up approach provides for an evaluation of the performance of each process within the facility, identifying improvement opportunities that may not be assessed in approaches that only consider the CO2 intensity. The methodology follows international standards and regulations, ensuring relevance, completeness, consistency, accuracy, and transparency.

Acquiring the data

Viridis Carbon can work with various data sources. It reads emission data directly from CEMS-equipped (Continuous Emission Monitoring System) emission points and performs configured analyses. It also applies statistical methods and alternative measurements or calculations to fill measurement gaps and track deviations and trends over time. Data on emissions at points where direct measurements are not feasible is enhanced. The common approach uses periodic isokinetic measures and calculates emission factors based on fuel usage; Viridis Carbon improves accuracy by considering factors such as fuel composition variations and burner operation.

Inventorying the emissions – a study case

To assess the potential benefits of implementing Viridis Carbon, a study was carried out to compare the process of preparing a scope 1 emissions inventory using Viridis Carbon with the current manual approach in a South American integrated steel plant. The comparison focused on the following aspects:

  • Effort: the person-hours required for data collection, calculations, report writing, and information review
  • Duration: the elapsed time between the start and end of compiling the inventory
  • Completeness: the percentage of total direct emissions in the plant covered by the inventory
  • Information consistency: the percentage of direct emission streams calculated using mathematical and statistical criteria, methodologies, norms, and standards.

The figure below shows the time and effort required for creating the annual emissions inventory using both the current manual approach and Viridis Carbon. The plant’s current process takes three weeks and 135 person-hours, while Viridis Carbon only takes two person hours over a half working day for generation and review purposes.

Regarding completeness, the audit showed that the manual inventory covers 84% of the emissions based on international standards and regulations for this facility type, whereas Viridis Carbon tracked 99% of these emissions. In terms of consistency, the audit found inconsistencies in 16% of the calculations in the manual inventory, while none was found in the analyses performed with Viridis Carbon. The discrepancies concerned measures resulting from inconsistent statistical values and questionable emission factors without proper validation using standards, regulations, or measurements.

The benefits of using Viridis Carbon

Data transparency is a crucial benefit of Viridis Carbon. It centralizes information from various databases, improving emissions' traceability and identifying areas for improvement. For example, if a reheating furnace increases SO2 emissions, it may indicate a problem with the acid scrubber. This allows for quicker preventive measures, as opposed to assessing only the plant's overall CO2 intensity.

Emissions can be reported differently, and standards depend on their intended purpose. Viridis Carbon offers several reporting standards that can be configured, making bureaucratic processes more efficient. Obtaining permissions and certificates from entities such as the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) or emissions trading system (ETS) is facilitated by the system's suitability and the accessibility of necessary data.

Viridis Carbon uses a real-time, bottom-up approach to calculate precise emissions for each product or batch. With product carbon footprint (PCF) tags, customers can see and compare carbon footprints, enabling differentiated pricing based on quality and environmental performance, benefiting the automotive industry, among others. These measures enhance a company's credibility with policymakers, regulators, and consumers.