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Upcycling waste into eco-friendly sand



The enormous consumption of sand poses major environmental problems for many countries around the world. ZaaK has developed a technology that can upcycle wastes (fly ash, pond ash, and stabilised ash from hard and brown coal, WTE ash, and bauxite residue) into value-added eco-friendly lightweight sand called Lypors®.

The enormous consumption of sand poses major environmental problems for many countries around the world. ZaaK has developed a technology that can upcycle wastes (fly ash, pond ash, and stabilised ash from hard and brown coal, WTE ash, and bauxite residue) into value-added eco-friendly lightweight sand called Lypors®.

Lypors™ is more than just the answer to the scarcity of construction sand and the persistent demand of the construction industry, says Dr Abbas Khan, Founder and Managing Director of ZaaK Technologies GmbH.

Sand mining or dredging is a big problem. How do you look at this problem?

After water, sand is the most demanded resource in the world. Around 50 billion tons of sand is mined globally every year, causing huge environmental issues. Sand is not essential only in concrete and mortar production, but also in glass, cell phones, computers, wine, and even toothpaste. The consequences of the high consumption have not yet been felt in Europe, but in countries like India, sand is scarce. As a result, natural sand is often illegally skimmed off and sold on the black market.

On the other hand, excessive removal of natural sand results in lowering of groundwater, coastal erosions and even the disappearance of islands. The short term solution such as m-sand or crushed stone has a greater negative environmental impact as it is a non-reproducible natural resource.

Unfortunately, these problems are only going to increase in the future as the rate of consumption of sand is twice the rate at which nature produces it.

Therefore, to solve this problem, ZaaK has developed a technology that can upcycle different types of mineral wastes and by-products such as fly ash, pond ash, bauxite residue and ash from waste incineration plants into a lightweight sand called Lypors™. Thereby, through upcycling, ZaaK takes care of the problem of mineral waste disposal while simultaneously mitigating the pressure on the dwindling natural sand resources.

Lypors™, as a secondary raw material is more than just the answer to the issues outlined above.. We at ZaaK enhance the trend of supporting a sustainable industrial society using the earth’s finite resources efficiently and carefully. As a Greentech company and a pioneer in upcycling, we oppose the throw-away mentality and contribute to a circular economy.

Lypors™ is an alternative to natural sand. What technology goes into the making of Lypors™ and how is it better than natural sand?

Lypors™ is a product which is made by upcycling mineral wastes and by-products which normally would have been disposed off, endangering the local environment and habitat. ZaaK’s vision is not only to establish a new standard for a secondary raw material but also a sustainable solution for society and industry.

The technology that goes in the making of Lypors™ involves a combination of mechanical, chemical, and sintering processes. Due to the simplicity and high scalability of our production process, Lypors™ plant can easily be integrated into an existing infrastructure enabling efficient collection of material streams at the waste producer’s site. Lypors’™ properties such as size, shape, porosity and density can be tailored to cater to different market segments.

Lypors™ comes with superior and consistent quality with zero organic impurities, as opposed to natural sand. The latter often contains impurities such as bones, shells, mica, clay and silt, which make it inferior for use in mortar and concrete.

Lypors™ is ready to use, which means no further screening, washing and drying are required. Furthermore, being up to 55 percent lighter than natural sand it is easier to transport, load/unload and has a lower risk of injury. A mason can place up to 20 percent more wall area and lift approximately 25 percent less weight per year using Lypors™ mortar compared to normal sand mortar. To cut a long story short, Lypors™ is a premium construction material for ecological and sustainable construction.

Please tell us about the advantages of Lypors™ based concrete over sand concrete.

Lypors™ optimises structural efficiency by improving strength to weight ratio allowing architects to design expressive roofs and taller buildings, add additional floors to existing structures and build on sites with poor soil condition and design wider bridge decks with minimum modifications to existing structural supports. Our study has found that the concrete made from Lypors™ can reduce size of load bearing elements, including columns and footings resulting in savings of up to 32 percent in reinforcement and up to 31 percent in concrete in a building.

Once Lypors™ has been used in a building the building owners will benefit from higher efficiency. Lypors™ concrete has two times better thermal resistance than normal concrete. Countries like India, where the temperature most of the year around is beyond 30 Deg C, can benefit from the energy efficiency of the building, saving electricity cost of cooling the building.

How has been the demand for Lypors™? Could you name some of your clients or projects where it was used extensively?

With the establishment of our Technology Innovation Centre in Germany, we have formed strong partnerships with various construction material manufacturers to design and develop our products for different construction material applications. ZaaK is currently in the process to set up manufacturing plants in cooperation with waste and by product producers in Europe, North America and Asia. Lypors™ has been already tested by various leading construction material companies and they are ready to buy Lypors™ when commercial production begins.

We see that the need and awareness for alternative ecological construction materials, such as Lypors™, is steadily rising and in future the demand for sustainable construction materials will increase: This is pushed, on the one hand, by the ever increasing scarcity of natural construction materials and on the other hand by a heightened ecological consciousness.

Logistics is a huge problem in India, especially in the cement business. How do you look at this problem?

Yes, logistics is a huge problem in India due to various factors like vast distances, underdeveloped infrastructure and transport systems, inadequate material handling systems, manual loading / unloading etc. The burden is felt acutely in industries where heavy materials are transported, e.g., in the cement and construction industries. This issue can be partially alleviated by moving away from traditional materials to new-age ones, e.g., by substituting natural sand with Lypors™ resulting in reducing weight, and hence handling cost, including that of downstream products like ready-mix concrete, dry-mix-mortars, plasters etc. ZaaK’s technology enables manufacture of such products, making their transport more efficient.

You claim saving up to 25 percent fuel in transporting for the same volume of material compared to natural sand. How?

Construction requires transportation! And there is a direct correlation between fuel consumption, weight and environmental impact. According to a study, due to being up to 55 percent lighter in weight, transporting Lypors™ in 14 tyre trucks will save up to 25 percent fuel compared to transporting the same volume (40 m3) of natural sand.

The infrastructure sector in India is receiving huge attention from our government. Do you think it’s a good opportunity to scale up your operations? What are your future plans?

Our process and products address three important and burning issues of the day: conversion of millions of tons of waste product into inert material, prevention of sand dredging & erosion, and provision of high-quality building material with low life cycle costs. These reasons are compelling enough to lead to accelerated adoption of our technology. Government attention to the building industry will certainly add to these tailwinds. We believe that the industry is increasingly ready to adopt environment-friendly technologies. We are in discussion with multiple entities across the globe, including India, for the early adoption of our product and technology. We will establish our presence in India this year across the value chain.

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Economic Implications of Using SCMs




ICR analyses how the integration of supplementary cementitious materials (SCM) and the strategies thereof has catalysed the cement industry’s economic landscape, fostering streamlined processes and enhanced resource utilisation, ultimately shaping a more resilient and profitable sector within India’s economy.

The way to look at any cementitious material in modern times would be to look at the carbon intensity inherent in it in terms of CO2 emissions, such as clinker, which forms the basis for making cement. After grinding the clinker (95 per cent) with gypsum and some correctives (together at 5 per cent), its emission intensity is 849-868 kg per tonne of output. Thus, when you produce ordinary Portland cement (OPC), which contains only clinker as the base cementitious material, the emission intensity is the highest at 750-860 kg of cement output. The lower end of the band is reserved for those who use the best technology that improves thermal efficiency and electrical efficiency.
Now, OPC could be the best suited for giving the early strength of cement measured by the compressive strength in MPa. Whether you take a 3-day or 7-day or 28-day strength, OPC would remain at the highest when you compare with any other form of cement that supplements clinker in the OPC with other cementitious materials like fly ash, slag, silica fume, natural pozzolans – such as calcined clays, shale and metakaolin, sugarcane bagass ash (SCBA) or rice husk ash (RHA).
The purpose of using supplementary cementitious material is two-fold:

  • Economic
  • Environmental
    The way to deal with this subject would be to look at the life cycle assessment of each of these and compute the impact. To make matters simple one may first look at the carbon intensity in each in terms of emissions and attach an appropriate environmental cost to it. Let us look at some of these numbers:
    Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC) uses a mix of 60-65 per cent clinker, 5 per cent gypsum and 25-30 per cent fly ash thus taking the overall emission to an average 700 kg per tonne of cement. Efforts have been always to look at ways of maximising fly ash and PPC specifications allow for even 35 per cent fly ash to meet the compressive strength guidelines. However, we must note that compressive strength will be lower for 3 days, 7 days and 28 days for PPC when compared with OPC by at least 8-10 per cent. If one considers the cost of fly ash that is replacing clinker, the economic impact is huge as the cost of the former is a fraction of the latter.

Economic Implications
To compute the economic benefits of fly ash in PPC there are two important factors to be considered. The grinding units that are the final delivery points of cement units must be logistically located such that the cost of fly ash could be minimised. But this is a network optimisation question and the optimisation would entail outbound logistics cost of cement as well. Most advanced economies, India included, have looked at fly ash as an economic agent that not only turns waste into wealth but also reduces environmental impact of cement emissions (850 kg to 700 kg per tonne). The reduction in the landed cost of fly ash would further improve the economics through better logistics cost optimisation and mode-mix improvements. In recent times freight charges on rail in India for fly ash have been reduced to move fly ash over longer distances.
The environmental impact over long distance haulage of fly ash thus could be brought down
using rail as the mode, a crucial factor for the life cycle assessment.
The wider economic implication could be seen in the alternative deployment of a waste that was put to landfill is now an economic alternative to clinker. Some fly ash producers like NTPC or TATA Power or Adani Power, who together produce more than 100 million tonnes of fly ash per year, could be powerful actors to sway economic balance. Fly ash brick manufacturers who operate in the smaller concentrated networks, mostly SMEs, could be the next contenders in the value balance.
Slag based cement, uses 50 per cent clinker and 45 per cent slag and 5 per cent gypsum on an average. It is the next best example of SCM making a huge difference to the economic as well as environmental impact. By replacing a large amount of clinker, slag-based cement thus makes the emission intensity of cement come down to less than 500 kg per tonne of cement. This when looked at the back of the cost of slag vis-à-vis clinker, which it replaces in the cement, the economic implication is huge. The total production of blast furnace slag is growing, despite its environmental impact and it makes an economic case for GGBS.
However, blast furnace slag or the copper smelter slag, as inputs mixed together, is not free and must compete as commodities with clinker. But game theoretic approaches to price negotiations have fructified into either contracts that are short or medium term tenured (a sharp departure from the past) or pure spot contracts through auctions, that could be well mired in quasi-collusion dynamics of all kinds (in the past). Slag producers seeing an economic opportunity (as opposed to the environmental impact they face otherwise) have mostly experimented with a mix of spot and contracting strategy. The slag benefit in cement over clinker could be in the range of 30-40 per cent looking at the range of cost dynamics that would also include transportation cost by rail.
When one adds the CO2 emission impact benefit, fly ash and slag make a stunning case.

Exploring Other Options
The next most talked about SCMs are silica fumes and natural pozzolans, but their use has been limited in most parts of the world due to economic evaluations, including logistics cost. However, this economics could be lopsided in Europe where fly ash is hardly available and slag could be following suit. Natural pozzolans like calcined clay and metakaolin are therefore in news today, especially in Europe. In India, for example, they could be traded at cement cost, whereas in Europe they could well be lower than the clinker cost.
Utilisation of fly ash in cement has been improving in India but it is still far from the developed world numbers. The old wet fly ash lying in ponds and the dry lying in ash mounds could together be in excess of 100 million tonnes. While the vertical roller mills (VRM) technologies offer great benefits overall ball mills in grinding for absorption of wet fly ash, some innovative methods to use wet fly ash without adding to cost have been developed by some. Similarly, those having a logistics advantage towards a mix of fly ash and slag have settled for composite cement that could use a blend of fly ash and slag in their grinding mix. These could offer negotiating leverage while settling contracts in fly ash and slag.
At the end, to weigh the environmental impact in concrete, which uses a mix of sand, gravel, cement and water, one must see the equation differently: in a one cubic metre of concrete, using 14 per cent cement in the mix, the CO2 emission would be of the order of 410 kg/cubic metre compared to 290 kg per cubic using 30 per cent fly ash in PPC.

  • Procyon Mukherjee

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Jury selects Indian Cement Review award winners; Awards to be presented at Cement EXPO 2023




Unveiling Future Tech Innovations

The Jury selected the winners of Indian Cement Review’s “Person of the Year”, “Lifetime Achievement Award” and “Fastest Growing Cement Companies” awardsICR award winners will be felicitated at the 14th Edition of Cement EXPO, India’s leading exhibition for the entire cement industry ecosystem that will be held from December 14-15, 2023, at Manekshaw Center, New Delhi.

The Jury – comprising head honchos of the infrastructure, construction and cement industries – met recently at Shangri La hotel in New Delhi to deliberate on and select the winners of the 7th Indian Cement Review (ICR) Awards. The awards are given for the fastest growing cement companies and stalwarts (under “Person of the Year” and “Lifetime Achievement” categories) for their contribution in the cement industry. ICR award winners will be felicitated at the 14th Edition of Cement EXPO, India’s leading exhibition for the entire cement industry ecosystem that will be held from December 14-15, 2023, at Manekshaw Center, New Delhi.

FIRST Construction Council (an infrastructure think tank) and Indian Cement Review, India’s leading cement publication that has been serving the industry for the last 38 years, are the organisers of the Cement EXPO and ICR Awards & Conference.

This year’s Jury for selecting ICR awards included prominent personalities like Debobroto Banerjee (Director & CEO, EWAC Alloys Ltd); Sumit Banerjee (Former Vice Chairman, Reliance Infrastructure, & Board of Governor, FIRST Construction Council); Dr LP Singh (Director General, NCCBM); KK Taparia (Advisor at Vadraj Cement); Dr Jayprakash Rao (Group President, International, Dineshchandra R. Agrawal Infracon Pvt Ltd); Nagesh Veeturi (Executive Director – Civil, KEC International Ltd); Rahul Ratnakar Deshmukh (MD, Fives India Engineering & Projects Pvt Ltd); and Pratap Padode (Founder & President, FIRST Construction Council).

ICR’s fastest growing cement companies awards are given in three categories – Large (companies having turnover above Rs 5000 crore), Medium (companies having turnover between Rs 2000 crore to Rs 5000 crore), and Small (companies having turnover below Rs 2000 crore). ICR “Person of the Year Award” recognises the heroes of cement industry who have made remarkable achievements during the year. ICR “Lifetime Achievement Award” is presented to the individual who has provided outstanding service to the cement industry for the sustained period of years and has had a significant impact on a large number of individuals and organisations.

After in-depth analysis and thorough deliberations, the Jury selected the winners of the 7th Indian Cement Review Awards.

While the winners of ICR’s “Fastest growing cement companies”, “Person of the Year” and “Lifetime Achievement Award” were selected by the Jury during the meeting, nominations for other prestigious awards are still open. Companies can still nominate themselves under following categories:Innovation of the yearCSR Company of the yearGreen Factory of the yearProduct of the yearExcellence in Sustainability

To nominate for the above awards and to exhibit & know more about Cement EXPO, click here.

With the theme of “Driving Sustainability Through Technology”, Cement EXPO 2023 will be co-located with the 9th Indian Cement Review Conference (which will address the cement industry’s ambitions to deliver sustainable, low-carbon cement) and the 7th Indian Cement Review Awards (where fastest growing cement companies and industry stalwarts will be awarded). The EXPO is expected to have over 100 exhibitors and attract more than 5,000 quality visitors.

The 14th Cement Expo will witness participation of a diverse range of exhibitors representing different facets of the cement industry, including: Cement Equipment Manufacturers; Cement & Concrete Manufacturers; Raw Material Suppliers; Cement Testing and Quality Control Equipment Provider; Construction Equipment; Automation & IT Solutions Providers; Admixtures and Chemical Suppliers; Concrete Reinforcement and Structural Systems; Logistics and Transportation Service Providers; and Material Handling Solutions, among others.

For more information on Cement EXPO 2023, you can reach out to Mr Sujoy Gomes (on Mob: 86577 95881; and email:

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A refractory should be able to withstand high abrasion




Mayank Kamdar, Marketing Director, Lilanand Magnesites, gives details about development in refractories that affect cement production.

Tell us about the refractories made and delivered by your organisation.
We are manufacturers of special and high performance castable and gunning refractory. These are manufactured at our Gujrat factory. We also have an integrated R&D centre there with all types of testing facilities. We primarily manufacture these castable, gunning refractories and anti-coating paints material there.

How do your refractories impact the productivity of the cement plants?
The refractory cost is less compared to the total expenditure of a cement plant – it might be 0.2 per cent to 0.4 per cent of the total expenditure. Refractory efforts can improve efficiency of the plant by up to 60 per cent. It plays an important role as far as productivity of a cement plant is concerned. Nowadays, cement plants are switching focus from the cost of the material to the absolute cost of the material. You need to be ready to spend on the extra life of the refractory to ensure that efficiency and productivity is increased. As the demand of cement is increasing day by day, all the companies are focused on better refractory life at affordable costs.

What is the lifespan of your refractories?
It depends on the area. Usually in the critical areas that we are catering to, the lifespan varies from around 12 to 24 months. We provide unshaped refractories, and not bricks or pre-cast shapes. We manufacture gunning and castable refractories and they have a life of up to 24 months.

Tell us about the maintenance and quality standards for your refractories.
Our process is ISO certified. As a premium refractory manufacturer, we are particular about choosing our raw materials. We conduct a lot of tests on our finished goods before they are despatched. So, there is rigorous testing of our raw material and finished goods as far as refractories are concerned.

How do you contribute towards sustainability or being environment friendly?
Refractory material is made using a lot of fuel. Minerals need to be extracted from the raw materials. In aluminium-based refractory, high grade boxes are made. Since this process requires a lot of fuel, it is our perception that if the refractory gives better life not only does the customer get benefitted because of better costs but the environment is also positively impacted. A medium quality refractory castable would more or less require the same energy or fuel as high performance refractories.
If the life of high performance refractory is doubled, the overall impact on the environment can be reduced by 50 per cent by way of improving life and by using better refract one can contribute to environment sustainability.
Again, our factory has an integrated solar power plant where we are able to generate more electricity than is used by our refractory. Our factory is power positive. We have also introduced false air ceiling putty, which ensures that the false air ceiling draft is positive inside the preterm area. So, the environmental air rushes towards the preterm area where there are small holes, gaps and air pockets. We have developed one putty that will seal the small and big gaps and not allow atmospheric air to get trapped inside the preterm area. This increases the efficiency by reducing the false air. Savings in terms of money amount to approximately Rs 2 – 4 crores annually. A normal cement plant can save on this amount by regulating the false air.

New fuels and materials are being used for the making of cement. Do they have an impact on your product or the product is adaptable to all kinds of fuels and materials?
The refractory should be able to withstand high abrasion and chemical attacks. You can get it right if the refractory is chemically not very reactive. There would be an effect of AFR and other fuels but the effect could be minimised and controlled with the use of good refractories. Some companies are facing the problem of coating and maybe cyclones are getting jammed in the plant, so if they use anti-coating castable paints that we manufacture, which is applied over the castables, it provides extra protection against chemical attacks and abrasion. Companies are using such innovative products to minimise the effect of the alternative fuels.
All refractories are obtained from mining the earth and natural resources are depleting. The biggest challenge for any refractory manufacturer is to maintain the same quality of products. With depleting resources, they have to get new mixed designs in such a way that the quality is sustained.

Is there a way to making refractories that will not deplete the natural resources?
As such there is no solution. But it can be used in a conservative way. If you use a good refractory with better life and overall tonnage, it will help produce the same amount of cement.

Tell us about the innovations and new developments in refractories.
This year there is a continuous improvement in the quality and products that we are producing. If you consider castable, we have increased our range of constables, with more focus on inlet refractories where more and more companies are using
AFR, PET coke and other alternative fuels. We have developed refractories that minimise chemical abrasion. Even with the use of AFR and other deteriorating fuels, we are able to increase the life of inlet refractories considerably.

-Kanika Mathur

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