Cement is a vital and commonly used construction material that requires large amounts of resources and causes significant environmental impact. However, there are many different types of cement products, roughly ranging from traditional products with a rather linear production to more synergistic alternatives where byproducts are utilized to a large extent. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies indicate the synergistic products are favorable from an environmental perspective.
This article has two main aims, where the first is to carry out a LCA and compare three different cement products, involving both linear and synergistic ones to further explore this issue. This has been done from cradle to gate, focusing on climate impact, where the case is a cement production cluster consisting of three plants in Germany. The second aim is to develop and test a simplified LCA model for this production cluster, with the intention to be able to assess additional production alternatives based on the information of a few parameters.
Industrical Ecology, Life Cycle assessment
The more comprehensive LCA showed that cement products with a high share of byproducts, in this case granulated blast furnace slag from the steel industry, had the best climate performance. The difference between the best (CEM III/B) and worst (CEM I) cement product, regarding global warming potential, was about 66%. A simplified LCA model was developed and the research team could apply it to compare the present production with the situation in 1997 and also with possible future production systems. This simplified LCA model was based on 6 key performance indicators, instead of more than 50 parameters, which was the case for the comprehensive LCA model.
For example, the simplified model showed that the CO2 emission related to a virtual average product of the production cluster was reduced about 49 % in the period from 1997 to 2009.