NCB: The force behind sustainable best practices

NCB: The force behind sustainable best practices

Next year, in 2012, the National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCB) completes 50 years of service to the industry. During the last five decades, NCB has helped achieve enhanced sustainability in cement and concrete production, contributed towards Quality Management and Standardization to the industry, assisted the industry in continual improvement in testing, and helped the Indian cement industry operations to become highly energy efficient.
NCB has been contributing towards Quality Management and Standardization to the industry with its upgraded facilities and NABL accredited laboratories. During the year 2010-11, NCB calibrated around 2000 equipment for various parameters such as force, pressure, dimension, temperature, revolution, mass and volume etc. 6300 vials of various Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) were also supplied to testing laboratories of cement and allied materials. NCB also conducted a study on proficiency of testing laboratories through inter-laboratory comparisons and a workshop on Inter-laboratory Comparisons and Proficiency Testing (PT) on PPC and Fly ash was organized to assist the industry in continual improvement in testing.
Ashwani Pahuja, Director General, NCB
, elaborates on NCB's role and functions in this emailed interview.
As a support organization providing research, technology development and transfer, education and industrial services for the cement and building material industries what are the current concerns?
Following areas of concern where R&D is required, have been identified for taking up specific projects:
  • Research for newer methods of manufacturing such as application of Nanotechnology to cement and concrete.
  • Investigations for geo-polymeric cements, Portland Limestone Cement
  • Improved Refractory engineering practices
  • Bench marking of quality parameters in Indian Cement Industry.
  • Processing of flyash for enhanced use in cement/concrete.
  • R & D work to identify new pozzolanic materials for use as additives in cement.
  • Development and finalization of standards for composite cement for utilizing all types of pozzolanic materials to clinker for cement making.
  • R & D studies for reduction of green house gases (GHG's) in cement manufacture such as
  • adaptation of best available Technology for reduction of NOx and SO2; and sequestration of carbon-dioxide in Alage culture.
  • R & D studies for use of alternate source of energy/ fuels and raw materials.
  • Studies for exploration / identification of new limestone reserves for Greenfield Cement plants and upgradation of low grade limestone and mines rejects for cement manufacture.
  • Use of high performance concrete to enhance durability and reduce use of cement and other materials.
On the environmental front what has been done/is being done to ensure that cement plants manage to operate with the least amount of damage to the environment? Tell us something about new technologies that are helping cement plant.
Indian cement industry has been working on the issue of its GHG emissions and has brought down the CO2 emission level from 1.12 tonne of CO2 / tonne of cement in 1996 to 0.82 tonne of CO2 tonne of cement at present.
Some of the mitigation measures adopted for reduction of GHG emissions by Indian cement industry are
  • Production of Blended cement by substitution of clinker by Fly ash and blast furnace slag
  • Use of Alternate Fuels and raw materials
  • Improving Energy Efficiency
  • Waster Heat Recovery
  • Use of Solar and Wind Energy
  • Carbon Sequestration
Particulate Matter (PM)
Cement plants have provided APCEs like ESP, bag house with PTFE membranes and ESPs modified with bag filters - (Hybrid filters.) to control dust emissions.
Gaseous emissions - NOx and SO2
For reduction of NOx emissions, some of the cement plants have started using low NOx Burner, Low NOx calciner, optimization of the clinker burning process with computer based high level expert control system, multi stage combustion.
In Indian cement plants, there are no significant SO2 emissions from clinkerisation due to inherent properties of absorption of SO2 by alkalis.
Fugitive Emissions
Indian cement plants are taking various measures to reduce fugitive emissions comparable to the "Best practice" elsewhere in the world.
Energy is a major component of the cost of cement production. How has the organization helped the industry in energy conservation and maximizing efficiency?
NCB has taken many initiatives since 1984 for making Indian cement industry highly energy efficient. Various efforts initiated by NCB directed towards energy conservation and improving operational efficiency are:
  • During last 20 years, 170 energy diagnostics and audit studies have been completed which have total annual potential savings of about 260 million units of power and 0.50 million tonnes of coal (savings potential of Rs 140 crores per annum)
  • National awards for energy efficiency in Indian cement industry, since 1986-87 have been instituted with an objective of motivating competitive improvement in energy performance. These awards are being given annually since then to the best performing plants. The case studies of best performing plants are disseminated enabling other plants to emulate them.
How contemporary is our technology (cement sector) to international standards? Has the organization been successful in ensuring that Indian companies are accessing the best technologies?
The Indian cement industry has achieved an installed capacity of 300 Million tonnes at present and is anticipated to reach 600 million tonnes by 2020. With 99% of the installed through dry process, the Indian cement industry has been adopting latest technologies for energy conservation and pollution control as well as on-line process and quality control based on expert systems and laboratory automation. The Indian cement industry has access to the latest technologies of the world and the present trend is to put up state-of-the-art plants of capacities 8000 to 12000 tonnes per day, at par with world standard.
What according to you have been greatest achievements of Indian cement industry? Which organizations would you recommend as being the best in their class?
Single production line capacity of over 12000 tpd, average thermal energy consumption of 725 Kcal/kg clinker or average electrical energy consumption below 80 kWh / tonne of cement as at present were unimaginable 2 decades ago when these figures hovered around 3000 tpd, 880 Kcal/Kg clinker and 120 kWh / tonne of cement respectively. Similarly, the particulate emissions from stacks have considerably been brought down to below even 10 mg/cu m.
On the energy conservation front, the best levels achieved by the Indian cement industry, namely of 667 kilo calories per kg of clinker and 67 kWh per tonne cement are at par with the best achieved levels in the world.
The industry's efforts towards control of emissions, preservation of ecology and voluntary initiatives such as corporate responsibility for environmental protection are laudable. The Indian cement industry deserves commendation for its long-standing efforts towards reduction of its carbon footprint by adopting the best technologies and manufacturing practices.
How far is the industry adhering to the standards set by the authorities in the quality of cement they manufacture? Such as declaring the fly ash content, etc.
The cement sold in the market is adhering to the requirements of BIS specifications in general.
How does a consumer find out if cement is sub standard? Does the organization help in giving some kind of certification? What is the route to be followed when cement is found to be sub standard?
Non conformance to BIS specifications would indicate sub-standard cement. It is possible by getting the cement tested in a laboratory. NCB also has an independent test house from where consumers can get the cement sample tested. In addition to NCB and BIS, many other NABL accredited labs in various parts of the country, test the samples. As per present directives sub-standard cement has to be destroyed.
Speaking of standards can you briefly elucidate the recent most important standards set for the sector by BIS?
Standards on Blended cements, different grades of OPC, Silica fume and fly ash etc are some of the recent standards for the sector.
In the case of fly ash from biomass based power plants, cement plants are not interested, do you see any other use for this waste?
Fly ashes having pozzolanic characteristics can only be used for blended cements. Other flyash, which do not confirm to the criteria of IS 3812, can be used only as filler materials in roads, mines or as raw materials for ceramics etc.
Any important developments in studies on limestone consumption factor for cement plants?
Studies on establishing Limestone Consumption Factor (LCF) for cement plants are frequently taken up by NCB on specific requests received form the plants. So far about 138 LCF studies have been carried out.
NCB and its future plans/ activities?
To attain the targeted capacity addition, the industry would require 66000 additional technical personnel, including 23000 engineers & supervisors by the end of the XII plan period. Adequate training facilities need to be created to cater to the above requirement to match the requirement of training facilities of the Indian cement industry, training capabilities of National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCB) is being further strengthened in terms of additional manpower, Additional lodging and boarding facility at Ballabgarh unit, development of Computer Based Training (CBTs) packages, Packages for e-learning, up gradation of lecture halls at Ballabgarh unit and equipping them with state-of-art training aids like simulators.
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