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Streamlining supply chains will become paramount

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Pankaj Phadnis, President, Retail, Infra.Market, discusses the strategic expansion and the company’s vision for the future of AAC blocks and the construction industry.

What prompted Infra.Market to enter the AAC blocks market, and how does it align with their overall growth strategy?
Founded in 2016 and valued today at $2.5 billion, Infra.Market, India’s leading construction materials company, is reshaping the future of construction. Utilising advanced manufacturing, innovative planning, and technology, it generates value by supplying products under its brand and from invested companies like RDC concrete and Shalimar Paints. It is the only company in the country to seamlessly supply over 15 different construction material product categories, including concrete, autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks, steel, pipes and fittings, mdf, plywood, laminates, tiles, bath fittings and sanitary, fans, lights, kitchen and electrical appliances, modular kitchens and wardrobes, designer hardware and even paints.
Infra.Market’s decision to venture into AAC blocks stemmed from a strategic assessment of market demand, opportunities for diversification, and a commitment to innovation. Recognising the increasing demand for lightweight and sustainable construction materials, Infra.Market identified AAC blocks as a viable solution, aligning with the growing preference for eco-friendly building materials. The Indian AAC block market stands as the second-largest manufacturer globally, trailing only behind China. Projections indicate a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.3 per cent from 2020 to 2027, with an estimated market value of 11,000 crores. Despite its significant potential, the industry remains largely fragmented, characterised by numerous regional players.
At Infra.Market, we aim to consolidate this landscape by establishing a pan-India presence. Currently, we operate five manufacturing plants, strategically positioned across the nation. Additionally, plans are underway for the establishment of five more plants, further strengthening our footprint and ensuring widespread accessibility of our AAC blocks products. Expanding into construction materials, Infra.Market aims to diversify its portfolio, serve a broader customer base, and lead in sustainable solutions, reflecting its long-term vision for growth.

Share insights into the market trends and growth opportunities for AAC blocks in the construction industry.
The market trends for AAC blocks in the construction industry are indicative of a significant shift from traditional red bricks to AAC blocks, presenting substantial growth opportunities. Despite the substantial growth witnessed in AAC block usage over the past decade, it currently constitutes only 7-8 per cent of the industry, with red bricks still dominating 85-90 per cent of the market. However, there’s been a noticeable decline in the supply and consumption of red bricks due to environmental concerns across most parts of India.
AAC blocks have emerged as the preferred alternative to red bricks across all segments, including residential, commercial, and infrastructure projects. India’s annual production of bricks is approximately 440-530 million cubic meters per annum, whereas AAC block manufacturing capacity stands at approximately 27-32 million cubic meters. The widespread adoption of AAC blocks is evident in metro cities like Mumbai and Delhi, where they have achieved around 70 per cent penetration, replacing red bricks in many construction projects.
Government infrastructure projects and major residential and commercial developers recommend the use of AAC blocks, further driving their demand and market penetration. Moreover, with the improvement of supply chains, AAC blocks are increasingly being utilised in smaller towns and villages, expanding their reach and market potential. This shift signifies not only a preference for more sustainable construction materials but also presents lucrative growth opportunities for AAC block manufacturers and stakeholders in the construction industry.

How does automation and technology contribute to your manufacturing process? Has research and development helped in improving the performance?
Automation and technology play a crucial role in optimising our manufacturing process for AAC blocks. Our state-of-the-art R&D lab is instrumental in this endeavour, overseeing the manufacturing process and implementing rigorous quality control procedures. Through automation, we streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and ensure consistency in product quality. Advanced technology enables us to leverage data analytics and real-time monitoring to identify and address any potential issues promptly, thereby minimising downtime and maximising productivity.

What role does AAC blocks play in green building and sustainable construction practices, and how does your company contribute to these efforts?
Sustainability shines through in our approach and eco-conscious construction practices. Our AAC blocks have earned the prestigious green product certification from the CII-Green Products and Service Council, showcasing their environmental integrity and role in green building. By incorporating waste materials like flyash and slag into our concrete products, we actively reduce our ecological footprint. Additionally, our membership in the Indian Green Building Council recognises our dedication to green initiatives. Expanding our sustainability efforts, we have delved into metal recycling to mitigate the construction industry’s environmental impact, thereby creating a greener, more sustainable future.
Beyond individual businesses, at Infra.Market, we champion eco-friendly practices. We launched IM Nirmaan, a CSR initiative by Infra.Market that has positively impacted more than 2500 construction workers by providing comprehensive skilling programmes, aligning with sustainable construction. With IVAS, our consumer brand, we pledge to plant two trees for every kitchen sold. Our kitchens are designed with a focus on being carbon neutral, from materials selection to manufacturing processes, ensuring minimal environmental impact.

What innovative strategies are you implementing to optimise the production and distribution of AAC blocks?
Our objective at Infra.Market extends beyond mere commerce; it revolves around establishing unwavering trust by seamlessly integrating technology into every aspect of our operations including those of AAC blocks. Through the incorporation of technology into our supply chain, we anticipate capacity utilisation and efficiently allocate demand. We are actively developing technical solutions utilising cloud infrastructure, data analytics, machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for our stakeholders. Our retailer app streamlines management processes, including purchasing, financing, inventory management, and delivery, all within a single platform. Thus, it helps optimise the production and distribution of AAC blocks. We have developed a customised digital ecosystem for the market using microservices, Golang, Python and PostgreSQL, increasing delivery efficiency with astute insights and striving for user experiences on par with leading online platforms.

What are the primary benefits of using AAC blocks in construction projects, and how do they compare to other materials?
AAC blocks present many advantages over conventional construction materials such as red bricks, concrete blocks, flyash blocks, mivan shuttering and prefab structures. These benefits position AAC blocks as a superior choice in construction projects. Here are some key advantages:
Lightweight: AAC blocks are significantly lighter than traditional alternatives, reducing the overall dead weight of the structure. This characteristic facilitates easier handling and transportation
during construction.
Green product: Utilisation of fly ash and reduced water consumption in the manufacturing process make AAC blocks an environmentally friendly option. This sustainability aspect aligns with green building practices, contributing to a reduced ecological footprint.
Cost saving: AAC blocks offer cost savings compared to other materials due to their efficient production process, lighter weight and reduced labour requirements during construction.
Faster construction and improved labor output: The lightweight nature and ease of handling of AAC blocks enable faster construction, leading to improved labour productivity. This results in shorter project timelines and reduced labour costs.
Better thermal insulation: AAC blocks provide superior thermal insulation properties, helping to regulate indoor temperatures and reduce energy consumption for heating or cooling purposes.
Flexibility: AAC blocks can be easily cut into smaller sizes, allowing for greater flexibility in
design and construction, accommodating various architectural requirements.
Termite resistant: AAC blocks are inherently resistant to termites, offering long-term durability and reducing the need for pest control measures, enhancing the longevity of the structure.
Compared to other materials, AAC blocks stand out for their combination of lightweight, eco-friendliness, cost-effectiveness, speed of construction, thermal insulation, flexibility and termite resistance. These qualities make AAC blocks a preferred choice for construction projects seeking efficiency, sustainability and durability.

How do you see the future of the AAC blocks industry evolving, and what opportunities or challenges do you anticipate?
The AAC blocks industry in India is developing, poised for significant consolidation and growth in the years ahead. The landscape is changing as more organised players are investing to meet the increasing demand, setting the stage for expansion and advancement. With this consolidation comes the anticipation of progress across various dimensions of the industry, ranging from operational efficiency to research and development initiatives and the optimisation of supply chains. The establishment of new production capacities by organised entities is set to fortify the industry’s ability to keep pace with escalating demand effectively.
Moreover, a dedicated focus on research and development is expected to usher in technological innovations aimed at elevating the quality, efficiency, and sustainability. Streamlining supply chains will become paramount, ensuring the prompt delivery to construction projects nationwide. As AAC blocks continue to gain traction as a superior construction material, the market is primed for expansion, offering enticing prospects for manufacturers and suppliers alike.
Navigating the sourcing of raw materials and adherence to sustainability guidelines is a significant hurdle for AAC blocks manufacturers. As competition intensifies with industry consolidation, companies will need to differentiate themselves through product quality, innovation and superior customer service to maintain an edge. Additionally, meeting the increasing demand may necessitate investments in skills development programmes to ensure a proficient workforce capable of driving industry growth, mirroring our IM Nirmaan initiative. Through IM Nirmaan, we focus on skilling and upskilling construction workers to meet the evolving needs of the industry and ensure sustainable progress. Workforce development not only enhances the capabilities of individuals but also strengthens the overall resilience of the construction sector.

What sets Infra.Market apart in the AAC blocks market, and what are your long-term goals and strategies for growth?
Infra.Market distinguishes itself in the AAC blocks market through a combination of strategic initiatives and unwavering commitment to excellence. Our long-term goals and growth strategies are intricately aligned with our vision to be the foremost player in the industry while maintaining a steadfast focus on quality, service, and innovation. Our aim is to become the foremost AAC blocks manufacturer in a year, dominating major cities with top-tier products and services by setting an unmatched standard for quality and reliability in the market. At the core of our strategy lies our dedication to manufacture Grade 1 AAC blocks, ensuring superior strength and above. Our excellence is encapsulated in our tagline ‘Majboot Blocks, Majboot Deewarein,’ symbolising the strength and durability of our products, which have become synonymous with reliability and trustworthiness.
We recognise the importance of engaging with influencers and institutions to expand our reach and establish ourselves as the preferred supplier of choice in the market. Further solidifying our position as a market leader, we are forging strategic partnerships and collaborations. We prioritise and actively invest in research and development, innovation and technology to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate evolving market trends and customer preferences.
As part of our long-term growth strategy, we plan to expand our presence across geographies, strategically positioning ourselves closer to major markets to better serve our customers and capitalise on emerging opportunities. Our relentless pursuit of excellence, coupled with our customer-centric approach and innovation, forms the cornerstone of our long-term goals and strategies for growth in the AAC blocks market. We are confident in our ability to achieve our vision of becoming the leader in the industry while delivering value to our customers and stakeholders.

  • -Kanika Mathur

Concrete

Advanced Gas Balancing

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Dr SB Hegde, Professor, Jain College of Engineering and Technology, Hubli and Visiting Professor, Pennsylvania State University, United States of America, helps us understand the process of maximising efficiency and sustainability better through the use of advanced gas balancing in cement manufacturing. This is part two of a three-part series.

In the first part of the article, we studied the improved efficiency and innovation in gas balancing brought about by Internet of Things (IoT), the fundamentals of gas balancing techniques and the kiln exit gas analysis. Let us look at the role of technology in the process of advanced gas balancing.

4. Emissions abatement technologies
Emissions abatement technologies are essential for reducing the environmental impact of cement production by capturing and treating pollutants emitted from the kiln and other process sources. These technologies include selective catalytic reduction (SCR), electrostatic precipitators (ESP), baghouse filters and wet scrubbers.
4.1. Key parameters monitored and controlled
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx): Controlled using SCR systems, which catalytically convert NOx to nitrogen and water.
Particulate Matter (PM): Controlled using ESPs, baghouse filters, or wet scrubbers, which remove particulate matter from the kiln exhaust.
– Sulphur Dioxide (SO2): Controlled using wet scrubbers or sulphur dioxide scrubbing systems, which remove sulfur dioxide from the kiln exhaust.
4.2. Latest Technicalities
– Advanced Catalyst Materials: Utilise novel catalyst formulations to enhance the efficiency and durability of SCR systems.
– High-Efficiency Filtration Media: Employ advanced filter materials with high filtration efficiency and low pressure drop to optimize particulate
matter removal.

5. Process Integration
Process integration involves the seamless coordination and optimisation of gas balancing techniques with other aspects of cement production, such as raw material preparation, clinker cooling and cement grinding.
By integrating gas balancing with overall process control strategies, cement plants can achieve holistic optimisation and maximise efficiency.
5.1. Key Parameters Monitored and Controlled
– Raw Material Composition: Controlled to optimise kiln feed chemistry and minimise energy consumption during clinker formation.
– Clinker Cooling Rate: Controlled to optimise clinker quality and minimise energy consumption during the cooling process.
– Cement Grinding Parameters: Controlled to optimise cement quality and minimise energy consumption during the grinding process.
5.2. Latest Technicalities
– Integrated Process Control Systems: Utilise advanced control algorithms and data analytics to optimise gas balancing alongside other process parameters in real-time.
– Digital Twin Simulations: Employ digital twin models of the cement production process to simulate and optimise gas balancing strategies before implementation.
Gas balancing in cement manufacturing relies on a combination of advanced techniques and technologies to optimise combustion efficiency, minimise emissions and maximise overall process performance.
By monitoring and controlling key parameters in combustion control systems, kiln exit gas analysis, emissions abatement technologies, and process integration, cement plants can achieve significant improvements in efficiency and sustainability, contributing to a more environmentally responsible cement industry.

6. Kiln exit gas analysis and its applications
Kiln exit gas analysis is a critical aspect of cement manufacturing, offering invaluable insights into combustion efficiency, clinker quality and overall kiln performance. By monitoring key parameters in the gases exiting the cement kiln, operators can optimise process conditions, improve energy efficiency and ensure product quality.
Let’s deep dive into the significance of kiln exit gas analysis, the parameters measured, and their implications for process optimisation, along with relevant case studies demonstrating its practical applications.
6.1. Significance of kiln exit gas analysis
o Monitoring combustion efficiency
Kiln exit gas analysis provides real-time feedback on the combustion process within the cement kiln. By measuring the concentration of combustion by-products such as oxygen (O2) and carbon monoxide (CO), operators can assess the efficiency of fuel combustion. Deviations from optimal combustion conditions can indicate issues such as incomplete combustion, improper air-to-fuel ratios, or burner malfunctions, which can lead to energy waste and reduced kiln efficiency.
o Assessing clinker quality
The composition of kiln exit gases can also provide insights into the quality of the clinker being produced. Factors such as the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or excessive dust levels in the kiln exit gases may indicate problems with raw material composition, kiln operation, or cooling processes, which can affect the final product quality. Analysing kiln exit gases allows operators to identify and address issues that could compromise clinker quality and downstream cement properties.
6.2. Parameters Measured in Kiln Exit Gas Analysis
• Oxygen (O2) Content
Oxygen content in kiln exit gases is a crucial parameter for assessing combustion efficiency. High levels of oxygen may indicate incomplete combustion, while low levels may suggest fuel-rich conditions. Maintaining optimal oxygen levels ensures efficient fuel utilisation and minimises energy consumption.
• Carbon Monoxide (CO) Content
Carbon monoxide is a by-product of incomplete combustion and can be an indicator of inefficient kiln operation or burner performance. Elevated CO levels in kiln exit gases signal the need for adjustments to improve combustion efficiency and reduce emissions.
• Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
VOCs in kiln exit gases can originate from various sources, including raw materials, fuels, and additives. High levels of VOCs may indicate incomplete combustion, poor kiln feed quality, or leaks in the kiln system. Monitoring VOC emissions is essential for environmental compliance and maintaining air quality standards.

*References were shared in the first part.

About the author
Dr SB Hegde, a Professor at Jain College of Engineering and Technology (Jain University) and Visiting Professor at Pennsylvania State University, United States of America, brings over thirty years of leadership experience in the Cement Industry in India and Internationally. He has published over 198 research papers and holds six patents, with four more filed in the USA in 2023. Dr Hegde’s advisory roles extend to multinational cement companies globally and a governmental Think Tank, contributing to research and policy. Recognised for his contributions, he received the ‘Global Visionary Award’ in 2020 from the Gujarat Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

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Concrete

Double Tap to Go Green

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Appropriate sourcing of alternative fuels and raw materials (AFR) has long since been a bone of contention in the cement industry. As net-zero emission becomes a concrete target, every stakeholder in the cement supply chain is exploring green substitutes. Indian Cement Review discovers how collaborative efforts with other industries and innovators is proving to be a boon for the Indian cement sector.

Cement manufacturing is a major contributor to global environmental challenges, primarily due to its significant carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The production process is inherently carbon-intensive, involving several stages that each contribute to the overall environmental impact. The primary chemical reaction in cement production is the calcination of limestone (calcium carbonate), which produces lime (calcium oxide) and CO2.
This process alone is responsible for approximately 60 per cent of the total CO2 emissions from cement production. Additionally, high temperatures (around 1450°C) are required in the kilns to facilitate the chemical reactions necessary for clinker formation. This heat is traditionally generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum coke, and natural gas, contributing around 30-40 per cent of the CO2 emissions.
At present, the installed capacity of cement in India is 500 MTPA with production of 298 million tonnes per annum. Majority of the cement plants installed capacity (about 35 per cent) is located in the states of south India. In PAT scheme, total installed capacity of cement in India is 325 MTPA, which contributes to 65 per cent coverage of total installed capacity in India. With the increase in growth of infrastructure, the cement production in India is expected to be 800 million tonnes by 2030, according to the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, India.
Moreover, cement manufacturing is energy-intensive, and significant amounts of electricity are consumed during the grinding of raw materials and clinker, as well as in other processes. If the electricity comes from fossil fuel-based sources, it adds to the CO2 footprint. Emissions are also generated from the transportation of raw materials to the plant and the distribution of finished cement products, further contributing to the industry’s overall carbon footprint.
In addition to CO2 emissions, cement plants emit dust and particulate matter, which can cause respiratory problems and other health issues for nearby communities. The combustion process releases nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx), which contribute to air pollution and acid rain. Large quantities of natural resources, including limestone, clay, and other materials, are extracted, leading to landscape alteration and ecosystem disruption.
According to the World Economic Forum report ‘Net-Zero Industry Tracker 2023’, absolute CO2 emissions declined by less than 1 per cent over the last four years amid increases in global production. Emissions intensity remained static over the same time period despite a 9 per cent rise in the clinker-to-cement ratio. The average ratio is currently
72 per cent, while the proposed GCCA target is 56 per cent. The twin forces of urbanisation and population growth are driving cement consumption in China (51 per cent global demand) and India (9 per cent global demand), which necessitates accelerated action to decarbonise the sector to mitigate the impacts of increased production.
To address these environmental challenges, the cement industry is exploring several mitigation strategies. Utilising biomass, waste-derived fuels, and other renewable energy sources can reduce reliance on fossil fuels and lower CO2 emissions. Incorporating industrial by-products like fly ash and slag can reduce the amount of clinker needed, thereby cutting emissions. Advances in kiln efficiency, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and the development of low-carbon cements are crucial in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Implementing energy-efficient practices and technologies throughout the production process can significantly lower overall emissions.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation states that there is a high potential for generation of renewable energy from various sources like wind, solar, biomass, small hydro and cogeneration bagasse in India. The total potential for renewable power generation in the country as on 31.03.2023 is estimated at 2,109,654 MW This includes solar power potential of 7,48,990 MW (35.50 per cent), wind power potential of 1,163,856 MW (55.17 per cent) at 150m hub height, large hydro power of 133,410MW (6.32 per cent), SHP (small-hydro power) potential of 21,134 MW (1 per cent), Biomass power of 28,447 MW (1.35 per cent) and 13,818 MW (0.66 per cent) from bagasse-based cogeneration in sugar mills.

AFR – Need of the hour
The urgency of reducing the carbon footprint in cement manufacturing has become a pressing issue due to the industry’s significant contribution to global CO2 emissions. As the world strives to meet climate goals and mitigate the impacts of climate change, there is an increasing demand for more sustainable practices within all sectors, including cement production.
According to an article in the International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, Volume 14, 2021, In 2017, China and India, the world’s biggest producers, together produced 64 per cent of the world’s cement, or 2.61 million tonnes of cement out of 4.05 million tonnes. In 2018, these countries together estimated production of 2.66 million tonnes of the total 4.10 million tonnes, or 65 per cent of the world’s total. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, the region’s major cement producer, manufactured 0.47 and 0.45 million tons for 2017 and 2018, respectively. In comparison, in the same years, the United States produced 0.86 and 0.88 million tonnes of cement.
Economic and regulatory pressures further drive the need for alternative fuels and raw materials. Governments and international bodies are implementing stricter environmental regulations and carbon pricing mechanisms to curb greenhouse gas emissions. These policies create financial incentives for companies to reduce their carbon footprint and penalise those that fail to comply. Additionally, consumers and investors are becoming more environmentally conscious, favouring companies that adopt sustainable practices.
Adopting alternative fuels and raw materials offers numerous benefits for the cement industry. Utilising waste-derived fuels and industrial by-products can lower production costs by reducing reliance on expensive fossil fuels and virgin raw materials. This shift not only helps in minimising environmental impact but also supports the circular economy by recycling waste materials. Furthermore, improving energy efficiency and incorporating innovative technologies can enhance the overall competitiveness of cement manufacturers by reducing operational costs and future-proofing against potential regulatory changes.


Anirudh Dani, Manufacturing Head – White Cement Division, JK Cement, states,“Safety and quality are key for co-processing of AFR. We have implemented various key safety initiatives specifically for the handling, storage, feeding, and operational processes related to AFR. We ensure the quality and safety of alternative fuels and raw materials by conducting thorough assessments, adhering to strict handling protocols, providing comprehensive
staff training, and implementing regular monitoring and testing throughout the production process.
We have created dedicated storage with all safety measures to store the AFRs with relevant environmental compliances.”
He adds, “For all AFR, we conduct a comprehensive analysis that includes calorific value, chloride content, proximate and ultimate analysis, major and minor oxides, and heavy metals. To ensure safety, we also perform compatibility tests and flash point analysis. Additionally, for all liquid AFRs, we measure pH and viscosity.”

Technological innovations
Tushar Khandhadia, Senior General Manager – Production, Udaipur Cement Works Limited (UCWL), says, “In general, 65 per cent of CO2 generated during clinker formation is through process emission, which comes from the calcination of limestone and 35 per cent is through burning of fuel. The AFR contributes to reducing the CO2 emitted from fuel combustion. Generally, at every 1 per cent increase in TSR, there is reduction of around 2kg CO2/T of clinker. As there is no substitute to the limestone for the clinker formation, increasing the TSR in clinker formation is the only option to reduce CO2 emission during clinker formation.”


Technological innovations and advanced processes play a crucial role in reducing the environmental impact of cement manufacturing. One key area of progress is advances in kiln technology and fuel efficiency. Modern kilns are designed to operate at higher efficiencies, reducing the amount of fuel required to produce clinker. Innovations such as pre-calciner technology and improved heat recovery systems contribute significantly to lowering energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Additionally, alternative fuels, such as biomass and waste-derived fuels, can be utilised more effectively in these advanced kiln systems.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) and utilisation (CCU) technologies represent another major technological advancement. CCS involves capturing CO2 emissions from cement plants and storing them underground to prevent their release into the atmosphere. CCU goes a step further by finding ways to use captured CO2 in industrial processes, turning it into useful products like synthetic fuels or construction materials. These technologies have
the potential to drastically reduce the carbon footprint of cement manufacturing, making it a more sustainable industry.
Jigyasa Kishore, Vice President – Enterprise Sales and Solutions, Moglix, says, “Green procurement directly tackles environmental challenges by minimising resource depletion, lowering carbon emissions and protecting ecosystems. Choosing energy-efficient equipment, recycled materials and local suppliers all contribute to a smaller ecological footprint for the business.”


“Green procurement goes beyond the initial purchase. It considers the environmental impact of a product or service throughout its entire life cycle, from raw material extraction and production to use and disposal. Choosing products with recycled content, low energy consumption and easy end-of-life disassembly or recycling options is imperative to make sure that sustainability is built into the entire product journey rather than just the initial stage. Evaluation tools such as Life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) can help assess a product’s environmental, social and economic impacts through out its life cycle, from raw materials to disposal,” she adds.
The development of low-clinker and low-carbon cements is also a significant area of innovation. Traditional Portland cement relies heavily on clinker, whose production is highly carbon-intensive. By reducing the clinker content and incorporating alternative materials such as fly ash, slag and pozzolans, manufacturers can produce cements with a much lower environmental impact. Additionally, new formulations of low-carbon cements are being developed that minimise CO2 emissions during production and enhance the durability and performance of concrete.

Implications of AFR
The use of alternative fuels and raw materials in cement manufacturing has significant implications for productivity, cost efficiency, and financial viability. These alternatives can enhance the overall sustainability and economic performance of cement plants.
Radhika Choudary, Co-Founder, Freyr Energy, says, “The average operational expenses towards electricity and fuel for the cement industry ranges between 20 per cent to 30 per cent. By transitioning to solar energy, companies can notably slash these expenses, fostering improved cash flows while demonstrating environmental responsibility. Our customers, who have chosen to go solar, have not only enhanced financial viability but also earned accolades from customers for sustainable practices Commercial and industrial customers can have an ROI of 35 per cent to 40 per cent on their solar asset investment, which means a breakeven period of less than three years, which can be further expedited by leveraging tax benefits. Overall, our energy solutions not only reduce manufacturing costs but also bolster sustainability efforts, leading to enhanced profitability and market competitiveness for our clients.”

Cost efficiency
Alternative fuels and raw materials often come with cost advantages. Waste-derived fuels and industrial by-products are typically less expensive than traditional fossil fuels and virgin raw materials. By reducing reliance on costly conventional fuels, cement plants can achieve substantial savings in fuel expenses. Moreover, utilising local waste materials can lower transportation costs and reduce supply chain disruptions. Enhanced energy efficiency and optimised resource use further contribute to reducing operational costs, making the overall production process more cost-effective.

Economic viability
The financial viability of cement manufacturing is strengthened through the adoption of alternative fuels and raw materials. By diversifying energy and material sources, plants can mitigate the risks associated with price volatility in fossil fuels and raw materials markets. Additionally, many governments offer incentives, subsidies and tax benefits for adopting sustainable practices, which can improve the financial performance of cement plants. Investments in technologies that facilitate the use of alternative fuels and raw materials can yield long-term returns by enhancing competitiveness, reducing environmental compliance costs, and positioning the company as a leader in sustainability.
The use of alternative fuels and raw materials in cement manufacturing enhances productivity, cost efficiency and financial viability. By leveraging these alternatives, cement plants can achieve better operational performance, lower production costs and secure a sustainable economic future.

Conclusion
Incorporating alternative fuels and raw materials in cement manufacturing offers significant benefits in terms of productivity, cost efficiency, and financial viability. Advances in kiln technology and process optimisations enable the efficient use of alternative fuels without compromising product quality, enhancing overall productivity. These improvements not only enhance the economic performance of cement plants but also contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible industry. As the cement industry continues to innovate and embrace these alternatives, it moves closer to achieving long-term sustainability and reduced carbon footprints, ensuring a resilient and economically viable future.

– Kanika Mathur

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Concrete

Durable Concrete

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Benefits of using ternary blend-cement, flyash and GGBFS.

Cement is the prime ingredient in concrete. One tonne of cement produces around 0.8 to 1 MT of carbon dioxide. It’s worth noting that efforts are being made to reduce the carbon footprint of cement production by using supplementary cementitious materials such as flyash and GGBS in concrete. In case of ternary blended concrete, supplementary cementitious materials flyash, GGBS are used in addition to cement, sand, aggregate, water and admixture.
To evaluate the percentage of replacement of cement with flyash and GGBS, one needs to understand the properties of concrete mixed with flyash, GGBS as ingredient, structure strength, stripping time, durability requirements.
Flyash: Pulverised coal is used in thermal power plants for electricity generation. A by-product of this combustion reaction is flyash. The electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) used inside chimneys of the power plants remove flyash before ejecting out the combustion gases into the atmosphere. Flyash is a very fine particle like residue, which has pozzolanic properties. Hence, it is often blended with cement and also used as partial replacement of cement.
Flyash consists of silica (SiO2), alumina (Al2O3) and calcium oxide (CaO) as its major components.

  • Due to the spherical shape of flyash, water demands in concrete are reduced and concrete becomes more cohesive.
  • Silica in flyash reacts with calcium hydroxide released from cement to form CSH Gel.
  • Formation of CSH Gel leads to increase in strength of concrete further and makes the concrete dense and durable.
  • 35 per cent of cement can be replaced with flyash according to IS specification.
  • Early strength is observed to be less for flyash concrete. Due to slow development of strength of concrete, stripping time gets delayed.

Ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS): Blast furnace slag is a by-product of iron ore during the iron extraction process. Amongst all mineral admixtures, blast furnace slag has the highest specific gravity (2.8 to 3.0). The slag fineness is slightly more than that of the cement.
There are various types of slag available like air cooled slag, expanded or foamed slag, granulated slag. GGBFS possesses both cementitious and pozzolanic properties. An activator is needed to hydrate the slag.

  • GGBFS increases the initial setting time of the concrete. But it does not alter the workability of the concrete much because its fineness is almost the same as that of the cement.
  • The early rate of strength gain in concrete is diminished by replacement of cement in the concrete with GGBFS.
  • The final strength is improved by slag cement and the durability of the concrete is increased.
  • Concrete uses in marine construction are highly prone to chemical attack and corrosion. GGBFS as a concrete ingredient increases resistance against sulphate and chloride attack.
  • Normally concrete tends to segregate with GGBS as an ingredient.

Ternary blend: Ternary blended concrete is observed to be more cohesive and workable due to presence of flyash in concrete. Early strength gain can be achieved by using both cement and GGBS in concrete. Concrete with ternary blend is a win-win situation in terms of good product quality, optimising the cost of concrete, durability and resistance against chemical attack. Additionally, the use of SCMs in concrete can contribute to sustainability efforts by minimising the cement content which is associated with significant carbon dioxide emission during its manufacturing process. The hydration process of ternary blended concrete is divided into primary reaction by OPC and GGBS, pozzolanic reaction of GGBS and flyash as the secondary process. Both materials react with Calcium hydroxide produced by cement hydration to form CSH gel which gives denser microstructure than conventional OPC concrete. The dense structure improves the durability properties of ternary blended concrete. Process yields to minimise penetration of aggressive chemicals such as sulphate, chloride as compared to conventional concrete mix.

– Nagesh Veeturi and Sumanta Sahu

(Communication by the management of the company)

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