Cement accounts for 6 percent of human carbon emissions. Using fly ash is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to cut carbon emissions in cement-making.
However, the Lux Research report, Rags to Riches: Waste Incorporation to Cut Cost and Carbon in the Cement Industry, warns that without new innovations, overall emissions from the cement industry could still grow by 31 percent in five years with the rise in global production.
The global cement industry has reduced its specific net CO2 emissions per ton of product by 17 percent since 1990. However, companies’ cement production increased 74 percent between 1990 and 2011, according to a report released last year by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Cement Sustainability Initiative.
Cement makers will need to make greater use of natural gas and concentrated solar power as well as other material substitutions to keep the absolute emissions at the same level over the next five years, Lux Research senior analyst Aditya Ranade says.
Cement is needed to produce concrete. As a building material, concrete is the most used man-made material in the world, used at double the rate of all other building materials, according to the Cement Sustainability Initiative.
Lux Research’s analysis found thermo-chemically treated fly ash has the potential to displace conventional ordinary Portland cement in a mix. A method developed by Stuart Licht at George Washington University to use concentrated solar to power cement production could disrupt the industry in as little as five years, the analysis says.
Ecocem, Ceratech and AIT are among the most promising startups that are developing low-carbon cement and concrete products. All three companies have made significant gains in the market and are considered dominant in their field, according to the Lux Research analysis.