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News

Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) to cut CO2 emissions by up to 30%

Swiss Federal Institute Of Technology : 20 September, 2014  (New Product)
A new type of cement is currently being tested on a large scale in India. Known as LC3, this new blend substitutes up to half of the carbon intensive materials traditionally used to make cement with highly abundant clays.
Researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, together with partners from the Indian Institutes of Technology and from universities in Cuba and Brazil, have managed to double the quantity of cement produced from the same quantity of limestone by substituting a large portion of clinker (an intermediary material made by heating limestone at very high temperatures) with calcined clay. Limestone Calcined Clay Cement, or LC3, has the potential to generate 20-30% less CO2 emissions compared to traditional Portland cement; a major reduction considering that cement accounts for 5-8% of today’s man-made emissions.
 
Materials such as slag and fly ash are already used worldwide to decrease the ratio of clinker needed to manufacture cement. However, these materials are not always available locally and their limited supply will not be able to meet the rapidly increasing demand for cement.
 
LC3 is a low carbon and low cost cement that delivers similar or even superior performance properties compared to Portland cement. The blend can be easily manufactured in existing production lines, requiring only minor capital investments.
 
After a preliminary study and a successful industrial pilot phase in Cuba, and before it is introduced internationally, the LC3 consortium is testing the low carbon cement technology on a large scale in India, both in the laboratory and in the field. India has been selected for the size of its market and its growth potential, the wide availability of kaolin clays and the commitment of the Indian government to reduce CO2 emissions. An LC3 project meeting recently took place in Delhi, India, to define the next steps of the pilot phase. 
 
“Global cement demand will double by 2050. By then, India will surpass China as the largest producer yet. India’s quarries are estimated to provide limestone for only 50-60 years more.  LC3 can provide a long-term sustainable answer, because it can use low grade kaolin clays, unsuitable for most industries and largely available in many parts of the word, including India”, explained Professor Karen Scrivener, LC3 project leader at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
 
“The potential impact of the LC3 project is very significant. After water, concrete is the most used material in the world. Any emissions reduction will have a substantial impact”, explains Scrivener. “LC3 can become an essential construction material, especially in fast-growing emerging economies where minimising environmental impact and resource depletion are a top priority”. It is estimated that using LC3 instead of regular cement can save up to 500 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2050. 
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