Philippine cement manufacturers engage in green initiatives

Philippine cement manufacturers engage in green initiatives
Published: 01 June 2011

Local Philippine cement manufacturers are busy trying to reduce their environmental footprint with measures including the using of alternative fuels, educating the public of the more efficient way to use cements, and introducing alternative cement products that use less clinker, among others.

Lafarge Philippines for some time has been marketing their "Fly ash cement" with considerable success. This general purpose cement, marketed under the type 1P or the blended category, uses less clinker content than the traditional Portland cement while allowing the company to recycle its coal by-product produced in the burning process of coal.

Don Lee, president of Lafarge (Philippines) earlier said the company is trying to expand the source of fly ash in the Philippines to take advantage of the planned construction of coal-fired power plants in the country.

"Adding cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag in the cement mix reduces the need for clinker. It is during the clinker manufacturing process that the most carbon dioxide is emitted as we burn coal in order to reach the high process temperatures required to produce clinker. Within our manufacturing process, Lafarge is aggressively pursuing the reduction in carbon footprint in two key ways: by minimising the production of clinker by developing and selling blended cements with more environmentally friendly cement additives," said Pestano.

Lafarge’s fly ash cement is the only product of its kind sold as a general purpose cement, same with Portland cement, with competing companies having their own blended cement but is marketed as a masonry type of cement, used mostly for finishing jobs in construction works.

"The Philippine market has generally accepted the use of blended cement which is a tacit acknowledgement of its advantages: durability and workability. This is the reason why more than two-thirds of the market has converted to blended/cementitious cement. However, there are still many opportunities to produce "greener" cements with higher additions of various types of cement additives that provide for different types of concrete performance," said Pestano.

Cirilo Pestano, vice president for corporate communications of Lafarge (Philippines) said the marketing of fly ash is met with favorable response since it has been launched in the market in 2001.

Holcim’s Roland van Winjen, chief operating officer, however, said" "But what is perhaps relevant is not the ‘greenness’ of the product, but the application. Concrete (with cement as main ingredient) has qualities (such as thermal mass and fire-resistance) which allows for sustainable construction solutions if rightly applied," he said. an Winjen said educating cement users about the proper and efficient use of cements in their work helps a lot.

"In this part of the world, there is still low awareness on the urgency of protecting the environment. Very few people know about the benefits of sustainable construction and correct cement application. In addition to low awareness, there is less application knowledge and the building material users tend to be conservative. These aspects lead to the fact that it’s not always that the best cement product is used in terms of value for money and the environment," he said.

Holcim has its own less-clinker content cement marketed under the masonry type.

But much of cement manufacturers’ carbon reduction initiatives fall more into activities when initially producing clinker.

Van Winjen said cement producers are "increasingly" using alternative fuels and raw materials in manufacturing, while implementing co-processing so as to reduce wastes in its processes.

"Through co-processing... we are able to process waste streams in our cement kilns, thus allowing for the safe and effective disposal of many types of wastes, including industrial wastes. This is supplemented by a careful maintenance program to ensure that our equipments are at optimal performance, thus allowing for more efficient energy consumption," said Van Winjen.

Lafarge’s associated company, Republic Cement Corp., has installed a waste heat recovery (WHR) system at the Republic Teresa plant. A lot of heat is produced during the cement production process. However, only a small portion of this heat is being used for raw material and coal drying. Most of the heat ends up being wasted, then vented directly into the atmosphere, said Pestano.

"The WHR project involves the installation of a 4.5MW capacity turbine at the Teresa plant to capture and utilise most of the waste heat to generate electricity, the first of its kind in the Philippine cement industry," Pestano added.

Holcim’s continuous emissions monitoring systems ensure that emissions are within permissible levels set by company and the Clean Air Act.

Lafarge Philippines meanwhile has partnered with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines for its environmental programs and together have commissioned a life cycle analysis (LCA) study that will measure the carbon footprint of the production of blended cement versus ordinary Portland cement. "Based on the initial LCA results, using blended cement will reduce the carbon footprint by approximately 30 per cent," said Pestano.