Cement industry: sustainability, challenges and perspectives

Rodrigues, F.; Joekes, I.
June 2011
Environmental Chemistry Letters;Jun2011, Vol. 9 Issue 2, p151
Academic Journal
Cement-based materials, such as concrete and mortars, are used in extremely large amounts. For instance, in 2009 concrete production was superior to 10 billion tons. Cement plays an important role in terms of economic and social relevance since it is fundamental to build and improve infrastructure. On the other hand, this industry is also a heavy polluter. Cement production releases 5-6% of all carbon dioxide generated by human activities, accounting for about 4% of global warming. It can release huge amounts of persistent organic pollutants, such as dioxins and heavy metals and particles. Energy consumption is also considerable. Cement production use approximately 0.6% of all energy produced in the United States. On the other hand, the chemistry underlying cement production and its applications can be very helpful to overcome these environmental issues. In terms of manufacture, there are many alternative materials that can be used to minimize carbon dioxide production and reduce energy consumption, such as calcium sulfoaluminates and β-CaSiO-rich cements. Using residues from other industrial sectors can also improve the sustainability of cement industry. Under adequate conditions, waste materials such as tyres, oils, municipal solid waste and solvents can be used as supplementary fuel in cement plants. Concrete can be used for encapsulation of waste materials such as tyres, plastics and glasses. In this review, we discuss some aspects of the cement industry associated with environmental science. Other issues such as economic aspects, the chemistry of cement manufacture and its properties are also presented. Special attention is given to the role that cement chemistry can play in terms of sustainability. The most relevant aspects are outlined, such as the use of alternative materials, new possibilities and also the recycling of materials. It is also argued that an important aspect is the role of research and development necessary to improve cement sustainability.


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