Tackling the Environmental Impact made by Cement Industry 

Cement is one of the most ecology-polluting sectors in the world. The environmental impact of the cement industry is humungous. Responsible for about 8 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2015, the cement industry in India would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, leaving behind China and the United States. so we must think of concreting sustainability through reducing use of carbon containing cement. As per the International Energy Agency and the Cement Sustainability Initiative, by 2050, cement production could increase by as much as 23 per cent. This creates a crucial challenge in the fight against climate change. One 2018 study projected that by 2030, cement-related emissions would have to decrease by at least 16 per cent. Even more after that, if nations are to reach the 2015 Paris Climate Accord goal of staying below two degrees Celsius of warming this century. Recently, the World Cement Association organised the first-ever global conference on climate change, where industry leaders and experts explored measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the industry. This is a good initiative and will help in concreting sustainability.  We should also check how cement and carbon in it has impacted our climate.

Cementing in Construction – Mapping the Concrete Journey 

Architects, structural engineers, architects, and designers have adopted concrete as a combination of sand and gravel, a cement binder and water, and excellent building material. It is cheap, it can be manufactured almost anywhere, and it has all the right structural qualities that you want to create for a sturdy building or infrastructure. It is still the go-to material worldwide, despite documented durability concerns with the use of steel reinforcement, which can crack concrete from the inside. Building without concrete is possible but is a significant challenge at the same time .

Since the 1950s, these unrivalled concrete attributes have helped increase global cement demand, with Asia and China accounting for the bulk of growth from the 1990s. Since 1950 and almost fourfold since 1990, production has raised more than thirtyfold. Between 2011 and 2013, China used more cement than the US did in the entire 20th Century. However, with Chinese demand now appearing to be dropping off, most potential construction growth is expected to occur in South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa’s emerging markets, driven by rapid urbanization and economic development. In the next 40 years, the floor area of the world’s buildings is expected to double, prompting cement demand to grow by a quarter by 2030 

Cementing Detrimental Climate Impact 

Because of the harmful environmental impact of the cement industry, it becomes essential that the highly polluting and energy-hungry industry be changed as soon as possible because, in the future, countries will need even more cement to create a modern infrastructure that will help protect populations and economies from the extreme weather induced by current climate change. Cement is the leading concrete component and is manufactured globally to construct homes, bridges, roads, highways, and dams. Due to the easy availability of raw materials and high transportation costs, the cement market is primarily driven by domestic use. The process releases about a tonne of carbon dioxide for every tonne of cement produced. Around 50 percent of the emissions come from the processing of clinkers, 40 percent from the combustion of fuel, and 10 percent from the usage and transport of energy. Suppose countries act to adopt effective computing climate action plans that eventually underpin the Paris Agreement’s success. In that case, they will increasingly need to ensure that bidding for construction projects under those plans is awarded to companies with the lowest carbon footprints at the most competitive costs. This will definitely contribute in concreting sustainability.

On Reducing Climate Impact Within the Supply Chain 

Proper control of CO2 emissions from cement producers is the first important step in concreting sustainability and mitigating the environmental impact of the cement industry. CSI member organizations are committed to creating a mitigation plan for climate change and reporting their CO2 emissions, reduction goals, and progress in achieving them. For cement producers, there are many pollution reduction options, including enhancing energy quality, the use of recycled and waste materials, the implementation of low carbon fuels, and lower temperature processing of cement. 

Smart devices that monitor and track operations or apply machine learning to enhance process control at plants may save 10% of the fuel used in cement production and will help in concreting sustainability. By converting to renewable fuels, including natural gas, biomass and waste-derived fuels such as tires, sewage sludge, and municipal solid waste, indirect emissions from fossil fuels’ combustion to heat the kiln may be minimized. These less carbon-intensive fuels could reduce cement emissions by 18-24 percent by 2050 and thus, can help in reducing the impact of the cement industry on the environment and thus in concreting sustainability.

Reducing the calcination process emissions requires looking at a material other than limestone. Blended cement replaces other ingredients, mainly coal fly ash and blast furnace slag, with some of the limestone-based clinker. It could reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 20 per cent, but other environmental regulations restrict its widespread use. CO2 emissions can be captured by carbon capture and storage after they are made (CCS). In addition to conventional CCS methods already used in some power plants, concrete manufacturers can use their product as a CO2 drain. CO2 penetrates concrete through the process of accelerated carbonation and reacts with calcium hydroxide to form calcium carbonate in the presence of water; the result is stable, long-term CO2 storage. 

Efforts to Mitigate Environment Impact within the Indian Cement Industry 

The partial replacement of traditional clinker with substitutes such as fly ash, bottom ash, and slag has been another solution, both of which are by-products of other industries that would otherwise end up in landfills. In the ironworks field, fly ash and bottom ash comes from thermoelectric power plants, while slag is a waste from blast furnaces. National governments acknowledge that their own climate goals must be stepped up. In green energy and EVS, India is already a pioneer. India’s renewable energy potential accounted for over 20 per cent of the overall mix at the end of June 2018, and it plans to make at least 15 per cent of vehicles on its roads electric in five years. India set a groundbreaking goal in 2014 to grow 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2022. The State of Karnataka has set its own goal to grow 2 GW of additional solar generation by 2021 to support that objective. However, some charges on solar generation meant that solar power rates varied widely, making it less affordable and less appealing to companies than fossil-fuel electricity. 

Certain companies are working towards concreting sustainability by tackling the environmental impact of cement industry. Low-grade limestone, along with fly ash (waste from thermal power plants) and slag (waste from the steel industry), is used by ACC, Ambuja, Dalmia Cement, and UltraTech Cement in their blended cement, which is an efficient way to both recycle industrial waste and reduce the carbon footprints of companies and ultimately concreting sustainability. As an alternative to traditional bricks, Ambuja’s other developments include the launch of its Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) blocks in 2018. The AAC blocks’ more robust insulation properties decrease the need for energy to fuel either air conditioning or heating. Also, Ambuja is working to reduce water use through modular curing, instant mix proportion, and rainwater harvesting services. 

On Achieving Net-Zero Emissions 

By mid-century, it is theoretically and financially feasible to reach net-zero carbon emissions from heavy industry industries, including cement. Emissions from cement production are primarily due to the energy used to heat kilns and the chemical processes that turn calcium into calcium oxide. The main measures that cement firms should take are: 

Improving energy efficiency: 20 potential technologies and combined steps could deliver 10% energy savings in the traditional thermal cement production process. 

Change the fuel for heat: 35 per cent of the emissions from cement production are made up of the heat required to manufacture clinker. By switching from coal to gas, this can be minimised in the short run. In the longer term, cement companies should consider increasing the use of waste or biomass as a fuel, substituting hydrogen for fossil fuels, and switching to electricity as a heat source. This will result in concreting sustainability.

The Verdict 

Low-carbon cement is still far from achieving broad-scale adoption. Maybe it’s going to take 20, 30 years, maybe more. But we are beginning to see that path’s first glimmers. Given its carbon footprint’s monumental scale, cement alone could make or break efforts to slow global warming. The only way forward is to keep pushing the whole industry to speed up its efforts towards tackling the environmental impact of cement industry. To delay or avoid this challenge is not an option. Click to know more about how Low Carbon cement will help environment . Other than cement we can also find other ways to reduce carbon.


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