Cement Production

Cement plants account for 8% of global emissions of carbon dioxide. The Irish construction industry uses approximately 15 million cubic metres of concrete every year, which yields emissions of 15 million tonnes of CO2 (Cement Emissions in Ireland increased by 2.6% in 2017). This is because Portland cement (the most common type of cement used in many parts of the world) is an important ingredient in concrete production, and is one of the most energy intensive materials produced, after aluminium and steel.
However, improving the efficiency of cement plants can lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions from the plant. Possible ways to do this include:

  • Improvements to the manufacturing processes (e.g. enhancing the energy efficiency of cement kilns);
  • Use of certain ‘wastes’ in the production processes (e.g. as alternative fuels in the cement kiln);
  • Optimising the composition of cement (e.g. using blast furnace slag, power station fly ash, etc.);
  • Participation in emission trading system (ETS).

Another option is to select different designs or materials, or different types of cement with lower CO2, but which are capable of performing the same function.

Here is more information on the Cement Sustainability Initiative, and what the cement industry is doing to help combat climate change. A 2016 study found that cement absorbs CO2 during its lifetime, and may not be as damaging as previously thought. 

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