How Well is Cement Industry Tackling the Vicious Circle of Pollution & Global Warming?

Cement, one of the most significant building materials, is a binding agent that hardens and sets to adhere to building units, namely, tiles, bricks, and stones. It refers to a very fine powdery substance primarily made up of iron ore, bauxite (aluminum), sand or clay (silicon), and limestone (calcium). It may also include slate, blast-furnace slag, shale, marl, chalk, and shells. 

Cementing materials were widely used in the ancient world since time immemorial. The Romans and Greeks used lime made by heating limestone and added sand to make mortar. The Egyptians, on the other hand, used calcined gypsum. Later, the Romans discovered that cement could be easily made by adding volcanic ash to lime. It was named ‘pozzolanic’ after the village of Pozzuoli. The development of cement market went on till the 18th century, when James Parker, a British clergyman, patented a natural hydraulic cement, which gained immense popularity in the 1850s. 

In the 19th century, Louis Vicat, a French engineer, unveiled the secrets of artificial cement while building a bridge between Lanzac and Souillac, over the Dordogne River. Though he did not file a patent, he provided advice to the contractors and architects of his time on cement making. His valuable discoveries resulted in the development of the industrial manufacture of cement in that very era. The cement we use today, has undergone several tests, upgradation, and experimentation to meet the requirements of the technologically advanced world. As per the global cement directory, there are around 2273 active cement production plants in the world. In 2010, the top three cement producers worldwide were the U.S.A., China, and India. Amongst these countries, China alone manufactured approximately 45% of the total global production of cement. This article presents comprehensive details about the industry scenario of various regions and counties. At the same time, it puts forward the future prospect of this industry. 

Will the European Green Deal Transform the Cement Industry?

In January 2020, Cembureau, the European Cement Association based in Belgium, announced its plans to conduct a review of the targets set out in its 2050 Low Carbon Roadmap. It will be done to organize the industry’s efforts to keep up with the carbon neutrality objectives that were present in the European Green Deal. It was published in December 2019. Once the reassessment takes place, Cembureau would publish an updated version of the low-carbon roadmap, pointing out the importance of concrete and cement in the circular economy. 

It would also present a path to acquire carbon neutrality, as well as its value chain in Europe by 2050. The association is looking forward to publishing the revised roadmap by early spring 2020. The president of Cembureau mentioned that the association is committed to ensuring that it plays its part in aiding Europe in meeting its emission reduction targets within the given time period. With the presence of concrete, the industry has a sustainable building material that is positioned uniquely as a crucial enabler of the transition to a carbon-neutral society. 

Egypt’s Cement Industry Overcomes Energy Challenge: Coal Comes to the Rescue

According to the official data from the port of Alexandria, in 2019, Egypt showcased a surge in thermal coal imports by 31% to 6.32 metric tons 2019. This growth is attributable to the ever-increasing demand from the cement sector. El Arish Cement, a prominent cement manufacturer is Egypt’s largest importer of thermal coal. It imported around 32% or 2.04 metric tons of the total thermal coal imports. The company represents 17% of the country’s cement capacity. Over the past five years, Egypt’s cement industry has experienced a rapid inclination to cheaper thermal coal and alternative fuels from expensive heavy fuel oil. It occurred as the government of the country drastically reduced the fuel subsidies for heavy industries. 

Cement Plants in Uzbekistan to Install Air Pollution Monitoring Stations 

The State Committee of Uzbekistan for Ecology and Environmental Protection unveiled its plans to develop a system of monitoring stations for automatic measurement of air pollution, throughout the country, in January 2020. Part of this would include the installation of static monitoring stations within and near plant sites, as well as automatic emissions sampling and analysis stations at a number of industrial plants, especially in the cement sector. The expenses of installation will be provided by the industrial facilities. 

In late 2019, the Ministry of Health, together with the State Committee for Ecology, collected samples of air from around 13 cement plants. Out of them, five surpassed the international regulations for dust emissions. Thus, the committee soon developed a draft government decree on fortifying environmental control over all the cement plants. Once the document receives approval, all the pre-existing cement manufacturers would have to install stationary posts in the adjacent territory, as well as automatic sampling stations for analysis of air pollution, at their own expense. 

The Future’s So Bright: Rapid Urbanization to Fuel Demand for Cement

The demand for construction materials is skyrocketing worldwide owing to the increasing population. It is likely to impact the market positively because of the urgent need for residential spaces, such as private bungalows and apartments. Additionally, the upsurging demand for non-residential establishments, namely, office buildings, schools, roads, industries, airports, and malls is anticipated to fuel the growth of this industry in the near future. 

Moreover, urbanization is growing day by day on account of the requirement for a better quality of life and career opportunities. The governments of various emerging countries are supporting a number of infrastructural and construction activities, which, in turn, is expected to boost the growth of this industry. Besides, they are putting forward multiple norms and regulations to reduce pollution and are providing subsidies to numerous manufacturers to produce technologically advanced cement. Overall, the industry would grow at a fast pace in the coming years.

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