Chile: Cement Industry's Efforts to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Amid growing environmental concerns, the cement industry is taking innovative steps to reduce its carbon footprint, focusing on decreasing clinker content and incorporating renewable energy and waste-to-energy practices.

Chile: Cement Industry's Efforts to Reduce Carbon Footprint
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Cement, a fundamental material in construction worldwide, is known for its significant environmental impact, primarily due to the high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions during limestone calcination and the intensive energy consumption in its production process. The industry also contributes to environmental degradation through raw material extraction, waste generation, and atmospheric pollutant emissions.

In 2023, approximately 5 million tons of cement were produced in Chile, leading to emissions of 800 kilograms of CO2 per ton of cement, highlighting the material's substantial environmental impact. To address this, the industry has embarked on initiatives such as a roadmap led by the Ministry of Energy aimed at reducing carbon emissions, explained Alex Casanova, a concrete academic at the School of Construction at Universidad de Las Américas (UDLA).

Given that a significant portion of cement is used in concrete production, which accounts for 70% of high-rise building construction materials, targeting cement's environmental impact is crucial for conservation efforts. One of the primary strategies adopted is the reduction of clinker content, aiming to lessen the use of equipment and fuels by replacing them with renewable energies and converting industrial waste into energy. This approach aligns with the global Race To Zero campaign and the industry's commitment to the roadmap.

Casanova highlighted that reducing clinker content would necessitate increasing additions such as pozzolana, which enhances concrete's durability against aggressive environmental agents.

Industry Innovations:
Some cement companies are pioneering changes in production processes to mitigate environmental impact. For instance, a brand has integrated Carbon Cure technology into its concrete plants to lower CO2 emissions. This technology involves injecting CO2 emissions into the concrete mix, removing the gas from the atmosphere and enhancing the material's strength, allowing for designs with lower cement doses.

These efforts by the cement industry to innovate and adopt sustainable practices represent a significant step towards reducing its environmental footprint, demonstrating a commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable development.

Source: La Cuarta Constructor