From grey to green cement: Why is analytical data so important in the upcoming building materials revolution?

It’s predicted that 2 billion people will move into cities over the next 30 years. That’s a lot of people – and all those people will need a lot of new infrastructure to be built for them! Much of this growth is likely to rely on cement and concrete, and so the challenge is to build a truly sustainable future for our cement and concrete industry.

On average, 850 kg of CO2 is currently produced per ton of clinker during cement production. This makes the industry responsible for around 7-8% of total CO2 emissions worldwide, and means that sustainability – moving to ‘green cement’ – is an urgent priority.

Innovation paves the way

This challenge will have many different solutions, including saving natural resources and considering efficiencies at all stages of the value chain. We need to create a whole new cement ecosystem involving all stakeholders, from manufacturers to construction companies.

The good news? It’s already happening.

From clinker and cement production through to construction and building design, innovation is finding new ways of working. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight – but by working to make each individual stage better, we’ll be able to step back and see the huge achievements we’ve made together.

So, how can you get involved with all this innovation?

Cement solutions now

In the short- to medium-term, the first step is to work with the conventional methods we have – and that means addressing clinker. Better production efficiency, digitalization, and alternative fuels or renewable materials can greatly reduce the CO2 released during clinker production.

Materials analysis leads naturally to more efficient processes further down the line – for example, your kiln works more efficiently, and you need less correction of your feed composition. X-ray diffraction, such as with the Aeris Cement, lets you monitor mineral phases and control additions to clinker. Particle size distribution analysis, using a laser diffraction instrument like the Mastersizer 3000, can ensure proper raw grinding.

Cement of the future : Green Cement

The second step is to explore green cement products, such as novel or blended cements, and low-carbon concretes. Clinker substitutes such as calcined clay, pozzolans, fly ash and slag produce blended cement with a lower carbon footprint. Exciting new processes allow concrete to sequester carbon from other industries – potentially mitigating 2 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions (that’s a ton for each of those future people moving to the city!). Geopolymer cements also offer another alternative path towards sustainability by using industrial byproducts and less processed materials.

Data lights the path

The cement production process is complex, and every variable can affect the cement’s final performance and strength. Innovation needs to be done carefully to avoid higher costs and waste. The key to success? Precise monitoring and analytic data – not only to control these complex processes and ensure high quality, but also to comply with industry standards and regulations.

Monitoring brings great benefits, too. Being able to control elemental composition and particle size more precisely than ever before allows you to use alternative materials or fuels. In the short term this can help to cut costs and mitigate supply chain instability – and in the long term, can enable efficient, green cement processes across your entire production flow.

Comprehensive process control

Malvern Panalytical offers complete process control solutions that meet the evolving needs of the modern green cement industry. Our comprehensive solution packages are now the standard for most process industries, including more than 400 cement plants worldwide. From fully automated laboratories to instruments for manual sampling or on-line analytical monitoring, our solutions can be implemented at every stage of production to improve efficiency, cut costs, and power innovation.

 

Written by: Murielle Goubard, Posted by: Malvern Panalytical (www,materials-talks.com)

ProLab

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *