Cement production has long been a major source of pollution and the industry is said to be the source of around five per cent of global CO2 emissions each year. Whilst the industry is central to building the modern world, for the world to reduce its emissions it is critical those producing cement embrace new technologies to improve efficiency and lower pollution.
Over recent years the industry has been slowly moving towards more sustainable and energy-efficient production. These changes may be difficult to see on a yearly basis, the broader trends show significant progress, with improved cooling technologies and burners designed to handle a variety of alternative fuels, which in turn requires improved dipping tube technologies to address the resultant challenges of corrosion and oxidation.
According to one study, thermal process efficiency today has reached around 80 per cent of its theoretical maximum, whilst NOx abatement and the capture, storage, and ruse of CO2 remains the focus of serious research across the construction industry.
After water, we use concrete more than any other substance on earth, and so to create a more sustainable future the cement industry needs to evolve to put less stress on the planet. Energy production around the world is moving towards more sustainable and renewable options like wind and solar and cars are going electric – the building industry is moving in the right direction but has a long way to go but green concrete and other similar technologies offer a possible pathway to sustainability.
For example, using plastic instead of steel to reinforce concrete can reduce emissions by up to fifty per cent. Other new forms of the substance can absorb and store greenhouse gasses, break down air pollutants, or even self-heal to avoid expensive and environmentally damaging repairs.
The technologies are there for a greener construction industry if governments, but the question remains whether market forces or governments will be able to push the industry to adapt sufficiently quickly.
Photograph by Engin Akyurt