Green Moves

Green Moves

World over, the cement industry is moving towards less carbon-intensive fuels, developing clinker substitutions, employing other low carbon materials with cementitious properties, and new low-carbon and carbon-reducing cement formulations and production processes in an effort to bring down the carbon footprint. Despite the incremental improvements in process efficiency-that have been adopted by the cement industry in recent years-the rate of increase in emissions continues almost unabated, (OPC production is [still] responsible for around six per cent of all man-made global carbon emissions where only around half of the world´s OPC is used to make around 11 billion metric tonnes of concrete annually). The Cement Sustainability Initiative, developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), has brought together major cement producers from across the world, and in India too. Today, Indian cement industry is probably one of the most energy efficient industries, thanks to the remarkable efforts by the Government of India under the aegis of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. The industry has initiated the Performance-Achieve-Trade concept in a bid to bring down the energy consumption. However, in terms of reducing the carbon footprint-through the use of alternative fuels, reducing the clinker factor by the use of supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) such as fly ash, rice husk, etc., and artificial pozzolans by the use of recovered mineral components (RMCs) such as by-products of the iron and steel industries-there is much to be desired. The government needs to come up with new incentive schemes for R&D and strengthen the existing facilities. Without doubt, they also need to create new facilities to leverage the advancements happening elsewhere in the globe. Worldwide, R&D focuses more on lime-based cement like calcium sulfoaluminate cement, calcium aluminate and calcium alumina-silicate cement using bauxite, instead of the typical calcium silicates found in clays, super-sulfated cement (made by grinding a mixture of 80-85 per cent selected GBFS with 10-15 per cent calcium sulfate and about 5 per cent of Portland cement clinker), magnesium-oxide-based cement, alkali-activated cement/geopolymers, sequestrated carbon cement, etc.

From the market perspective, the recent merger of Holcim and Lafarge is sure to change the dynamics of the industry. On a positive note, both the majors have very strong R&D set up and have been instrumental in developing alternative cement formulations and production processes, globally. With a major vision of green and sustainable development and with a wide array of products, rather than just ´cement´, on a long term, the merger should bring in more value-added products and services.

On the other hand, UltraTech Cement, one of the biggest manufacturers of cement in India, is on a consolidation drive, and as per reports, the company is in a good position to buy the local assets that maybe put on the block by Holcim and Lafarge SA. This will not only bolster the market share but also is expected to bring a balance into market.

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