How can cement cut its carbon footprint?

Which technologies are considered the answer to the industry which produces 8% of the world’s emissions?

Big Zero Report 2023

Cement production leads to 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) – how can this be stopped?

A new report by Carbon Re claims that if 13 existing technologies or interpretations were implemented into the cement industry, carbon emissions would be reduced by 0.8 gigatonnes per year – the same annual GHG emissions produced by the UK and France combined.

In addition, three of these 13 technologies are considered so critical; they could deliver 81% of this reduction on their own.

Utilising artificial intelligence, biomass and waste fuels, as well as different materials to make cement are the three key changes selected in the company’s report.

Creating new standards for cement quality and performance is also considered crucial, as the study alleges that currently the use of clinker – the most carbon-intensive part of cement – is too incentivised.

Reducing the use of clinker as a key material in the makeup of cement was found to produce the largest reduction in carbon from the process.

Other technologies considered in the report include carbon capture with graphene, calcium looping and electrification.

Green hydrogen is not a viable solution, the researchers claim, as the demand will be too high from other industries such as steelmaking and transport.

Sherif Elsayed-Ali, CEO of Carbon Re, said: “Cement production is responsible for a greater share of carbon emissions than deforestation, global shipping and aviation combined.

“Yet the roadmap to decarbonize cement production heavily relies on technologies that have yet to be proven at scale and are not likely to be widely deployed until at least 2040.

“Leaving any significant improvement in emissions from cement production until 2040 is too late. Achieving reductions by 2030 is more important than achieving net zero in 2050. Our report assesses technologies available today which could make an impact in the next decade by helping to achieve decarbonization to limit the expected global rise in temperatures.”

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