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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Dec 1;44(23):9143-9. doi: 10.1021/es100771k. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Identifying improvement potentials in cement production with life cycle assessment.

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Institute of Environmental Engineering, Ecological Systems Design, ETH Zurich, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


Cement production is an environmentally relevant process responsible for 5% of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and 7% of industrial fuel use. In this study, life cycle assessment is used to evaluate improvement potentials in the cement production process in Europe and the USA. With a current fuel substitution rate of 18% in Europe and 11% in the USA, both regions have a substantial potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save virgin resources by further increasing the coprocessing of waste fuels. Upgrading production technology would be particularly effective in the USA where many kiln systems with very low energy efficiency are still in operation. Using best available technology and a thermal substitution rate of 50% for fuels, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 9% for Europe and 18% for the USA per tonne of cement. Since clinker production is the dominant pollution producing step in cement production, the substitution of clinker with mineral components such as ground granulated blast furnace slag or fly ash is an efficient measure to reduce the environmental impact. Blended cements exhibit substantially lower environmental footprints than Portland cement, even if the substitutes feature lower grindability and require additional drying and large transport distances. The highest savings in CO(2) emissions and resource consumption are achieved with a combination of measures in clinker production and cement blending.

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