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Innovation in the cement industry

The European cement industry is continuously researching ways to improve the quality of its products and reducing its environmental impact.  It dedicates significant time and resources to innovation projects across a broad range of areas.

In this folder, we have highlighted just a few examples of such innovation and R&D projects.  They all aim to improve our environmental performance, reduce CO2 emissions and improve energy efficiency. These projects range from carbon capture and reuse in clinker manufacturing, development of low carbon cements and new binders and innovation in both concrete production and applications.

Why do we focus on innovation? Firstly, because our sector strongly believes that innovation drives our competitiveness and contributes to sustainable growth and job creation. Secondly, because the European cement sector is proud to be the world leader in different areas of innovation: over the past 20 years, we have consistently increased the use of alternative fuels (waste) in our kilns. Waste now accounts for 41% of our fuel needs. Also, by recycling its mineral content, we have significantly reduced our need for primary raw materials. This results in 18Mt of avoided CO2 annually. This recycling of materials and recovering energy from a range of different waste streams is a unique example of industrial symbiosis, placing us at the heart of the circular economy. Thirdly, because our industry is committed to remaining in Europe. By investing in Europe, providing jobs to European citizens and adding value to Europe’s economy, we are maintaining a fully local cement and concrete supply chain. This supply chain provides jobs to 384 thousand people and adds €22 bn to the European economy. The final product in our supply chain is concrete. A material which is durable, energy efficient and resilient. A material which helps us build our homes, our roads, our public transport, our hydropower dams, our wind energy farms – the list is endless! Having a fully local supply chain means that our sector triggers a multiplier effect of 2.8 on the overall economy, meaning that for each EURO of added value generated in the cement and concrete industry, €2.8 of added value is added to the overall economy. 

Our innovation efforts are also part and parcel of contributing to the climate change and energy efficiency goals of the European Union. In its Low Carbon Roadmap, CEMBUREAU has set out how it aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 32% by 2050 using conventional technologies and by 80% once breakthrough technologies such as carbon capture are successfully commercialized. The projects laid out in this folder formulate concrete responses to how the cement industry works towards achieving these goals.

The cement industry in Europe is creative and innovative. We know that there are many challenges to overcome. We look forward to a fruitful dialogue with policymakers on essential issues in order to achieve these objectives and access to public finding. These include:

  • Time to market for R&D and innovation projects, including the important role of the standardization process;
  • Availability of substitute materials: how can we ensure the continued supply of clinker substitutes such as slag from the steel sector and fly ash from the power sector (with the latter disappearing along with the decarbonation of the power sector);
  • Economically justified payback time which is essential to maintain a healthy investment rate;
  • Ensuring workers have the necessary skills and that proper education and training is available to help them adapt to the innovative environment.

The cement industry remains committed to providing growth and jobs in Europe.  We are eager to engage with policymakers to ensure that an ambitious, yet realistic, legal framework is developed – one which incentivises CO2 emission reduction and energy efficiency improvements, and which provides sufficient room for investments that will allow Europe to maintain its leading role.   

The Role of Cement in the 2050 Low Carbon Economy

Five Parallel Routes: This 2050 roadmap is based on 5 parallel routes that can each contribute to lowering emissions related to cement production, as well as concrete production. The first 3 routes are quantified in this roadmap.  The final ‘product efficiency’ and ‘downstream’ routes look at how cement and concrete can contribute to a low carbon society, providing a connection from this roadmap to the construction sector.

CONTENTS

Joint projects

CEMCAP:

  • Carbon capture

ECO-Binder

  • Innovative binder

European Cement Research Academy (ECRA):

  • Carbon capture

Low Emissions Intensity Lime And Cement (LEILAC):

  • Carbon capture

NANOCEM:

  • Clinker substitution
  • Concrete innovation

Cement company specific projects

Celitement:

  • Innovative binder

CEMEX:

  • Carbon capture
  • Carbon reuse

Cement Manufacturers Ireland (CMI):

  • Clinker substitution

HeidelbergCement:

  • Carbon reuse

Lafarge/Aether:

  • Clinker substitution

LafargeHolcim & Solidia Technologies:

  • Innovative binder

Vereinigung der Österreichischen Zementindustrie (VÖZ):

  • Concrete innovation   

Other relevant projects

C3 Carbon Concrete Composite:

  • Concrete innovation

REDMUD:

  • Innovative binder