Portland Cement production ranks as the largest industrial CO2 emitter on the Planet
The Financial Times and the BBC (here) stated that if the Portland cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter, behind China and the United States.
At least 2.5bn tonnes CO2 (~8% of global) are emitted annually from the huge thermal energy inputs (2-stages, see here) and the required release of CO2 from the limestone raw-material and other minor contributing activities.
We have shown how fearsome Portland cement production is, when making its chief component called clinker (here). We have also demonstrated that there is little scope but to keep using fossil fuels for the sintering phase.
In contrast for EMCs, via a low-energy two-step mechanical process, volcanic materials are processed in pre-configured milling devices.
EMC Volcanics can then be used to replace the Portland Cement used, for compliant concretes of signficant strength and durability.
The International Energy Agency's (IEA) report of May 2019 shows that only by the massive substitution of Portland cement in concrete using other cementitious materials, is there any hope for concrete reaching the required zero CO2 emissions by 2050 (PDF here).
The zero-CO2 EMC process can contribute ~70% reduction of cement CO2 emissions in concrete. Per the IEA findings, this gives visibility to Net Zero CO2 by 2050.
This is examined in more detail below...
Below, see how EMC Technology counts as "CO2 avoidance" and how that ranks in the race for U.N. Climate Action!
Starting point. It's simple. Cutting CO2 emissions does not mean removing CO2. No. It means not emitting CO2 in the first place. Which is why we got reminded of Benjamin Franklin's famous words.
The diagram above? The diagram above is lifted from an academic piece published in the leading journal Nature in 2021 (PDF here), building on the so-called "Oxford Principles" that are taken by many as a blueprint towards effective Climate Action. That 2021 monograph, "recapitulates the scientific logic behind net zero".
Ready-to-go? The diagram above ranks the priorities for "Net Zero" from #1 to #7 (in red).
Reduction ranks #1? That's right. And so was Benjamin Franklin. Reduction's #1 (not removal).
Why? In contrast to CO2 reduction (where emissions are not generated in the first place), CO2 removal requires more than a like-for-like "swap". Simply: putting a tonne of CO2 into the atmosphere, requires more than a tonne of removal to compensate for having done that (here).
Net Zero as the U.N. Climate Action normal? Yes. The concept of "Net Zero" was introduced by the U.N. for the purposes of the Paris Accord. It might be said that its concept is so central to U.N. Climate Action, that the Paris Accord's sole core purpose is to deliver Net Zero. In turn, a lot has been written and said already about what "Net Zero" is (and isn't). In legal terms, Net Zero is the common requirement of all signatories to the Paris Accord, to meet the goal of effective U.N. Climate Action.
So, what does Net Zero mean? The term Net Zero means achieving a balance between the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, and the CO2 removed from it. This balance—net zero—will happen when the amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere is no more than the amount removed. Hence, avoiding CO2 outputs (i.e., rather than emitting CO2) becomes centre-stage crucial.
Action, not delay? Yes. There are also those for whom Net Zero is not enough. Some may believe also that Net Zero will be exploited by polluters to defer Climate Action to a later date, or that in any event Net Zero will not be met in time to prevent climate change disaster. Nonetheless, all these views agree on one "bedrock" item: switching to low CO2-output production methods, without delay.
We already have the technology to reduce cement's emissions. We're ready. Are you?
The so-called Oxford Principles (PDF)
When it comes to Climate Action, EMC Volcanics reduces CO2 emissions. Some call this "CO2 avoidance". Why? Because EMC Technology makes it a doddle to avoid Portland cement's CO2-outputs ever being produced in the first place.
All CO2-reduction measures (i.e., cutting CO2 emissions) outrank any CO2 removal measure. Yes, even for difficult emissions such as Portland cement production. According to the same 2021 academic piece published in the leading journal Nature:
"The seven attributes highlight the urgency of emission reductions, which need to be front-loaded, and of coverage of all emission sources, including currently difficult ones."
— The Meaning of Net Zero and How to Get It Right, Nature 2021 (PDF here)
CO2 reduction is the sole priority for meeting Net Zero's urgent needs. Simply put, Net Zero's urgency requires emission-cuts as the sole #1 Climate Action priority. This means avoidance rather than CO2 removal, with the following as an additional upside:
"Economic model calculations have shown that front-loading climate action, paired with long-term planning over several years, is the most cost-effective way to reach a given temperature target."
EMC Technology empowers CO2 reduction—just as renewables, green hydrogen and EVs do. And, when it comes to cement, there's no good reason to not get doing this right away:
"Shifting to a net-zero system will require changes along the whole value chain, and reaching the full potential of any of these opportunities is a considerable challenge. The good news is that all can be pursued in parallel: there's no major conflicts between low-CO2 clinker production, the substitution of clinker with other materials, or changes to concrete composition, or the use of concrete in structures."
— Industrial Transformation 2050: Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions (PDF here)
“If a technology is not going to reduce emissions by a lot and it's still very far away from commercialization, then maybe it's better to redirect funding to technologies that do have the potential of really drastically reducing emissions”.
Kiane de Kleijne, Radboud University (here)
Portland cement comprises "clinker" that is produced using a fearsome energy-intensive process that puts-out huge amounts of CO2. In contrast, EMC Technology is a low-energy process that can produce "zero-carbon" products, to replace the amount of cement clinker used in concrete. It can replace so much of it, that the potential is truly profound in Today's climate imperative.
Explaining the diagram:
The blue line represents the historical evolution from 1990 to 2018 of clinker-production CO2 yields, expressed as kgs per tonne of clinker, for the EU Member States as of 2019.
The 811kg CO2 figure is ~10% higher than the EU ETS figure, and 31kg lower than the reported 2016 average of GNR membership (see here), which itself excludes China and India. Per the chart above:
Although the EU ETS for clinker production uses a figure of 762kg CO2 per metric tonne (T) clinker, the 1990 CO2 emissions stood at 911 kg as an average for EU countries, whereas in 2019 it was ~811kg CO2/T clinker. This is only a 10% reduction in 30yrs.
In contrast, by 2030 the CO2/T clinker has to be reduced by ~50% from 811kg to 409kg CO2/T clinker.
Using EMC Volcanics at 55% OPC replacement, we see that requirement is met and at 70% OPC replacement it is smashed...
No one knows for sure its true scale — except that it really is truly enormous and persistent!
Based on estimates, the chart depicts the rise of World industrial CO2-outputs from 1995 to 2015, with their relative amounts. Across 20 years, the relative CO2 contributions made by cement production has increased in proportion. Cement's actual totals today could now be much worse...
As a proportion of global emissions, from 1995 to 2015, material production rose from 15 to 23%. China accounted for 75% of the growth. In terms of the first use of materials, 40% of the CO2 footprint of materials is attributed to construction, and 40% to the manufacturing of machinery, vehicles and other durable products...
See, Increased CO2 footprint of materials production driven by rise in investments, Nature Geoscience 2020 (PDF here)