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Chinas cement industry towards sustainability

Cement production is central to reducing energy consumption.


Sui Tongbo Professor, Vice President of the China Building Materials Academy

hina is the second largest energy producer and consumer in the world. Industrial energy consumption accounts for 70% of the total and emits 40% and 85% of the two major pollutants CO2 and SO2 respectively. From 1985 to 2005 energy consumption in China increased at astonishing rates. However, since 2006 the Chinese government has aimed to reduce this as sustainable development becomes a strategic objective for China. During Chinas 11th Five Year Plan (2006-2010) the country aims to reduce energy intensity by 20% and pollution by 10%; this means reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP from 1.00 ton of oil equivalent in 2005 to 0.80 tons in 2010. The building materials industry in China consumes a large proportion of total energy. In 2007, the industry consumed 137 million tons of oil equivalent, making up 7% of the national total and 10% of total industrial energy consumption. The cement industry consumed up to 58% of the total industrial energy consumption in China. Cement production is central

In 2007 the cement industry consumed up to 58% of the total industrial energy consumption in China


In 2000 China produced 595 million tons of cement. In 2007 13.6 billion tons

to the energy reduction commitments of the 11th Five Year Plan. A series of policies and measures have been taken in the Chinese cement industry since 2006 and some notable achievements have been recorded.

An overview of Chinas cement industry

Cement production continues to grow and develop steadily. Production capacity in China was 1.36 billion tons in 2007 and 1.4 billion tons in 2008; about half of the worlds cement output. China has held the leading position in world cement production for 24 consecutive years since 1986. The industrial structure has improved consistently. The ratio of cement output from new suspension preheater dry process kilns reached 55% in 2007 and 61% in 2008, increasing by 11% and 17% over 2005 (44%) respectively. There are now 171 new dry process cement lines with capacity greater than 4,000 tpd in China. Industrial intensication has developed too. The cement output from the top 17

cement manufacturers (with capacity >10 million tpy) in China accounted for 27% of the total production in 2007 and 30% in 2008. Productivity has improved signicantly. 1.67 million cement industry employees produced 595 million tons of cement in 2000. However in 2007, 1.18 million employees produced 13.6 billion tons of cement. Technological improvements and equipment upgrades contributed to this productivity growth. Signicant progress has been made in technology and equipment development for cement manufacturing. Some 95% of the equipment for new dry process production lines with more than 5,000 tpd capacity is manufactured and supplied locally. By the end of 2006, over 700 new dry process lines began to use Chinese technology and equipment. Technology and equipment export has expanded rapidly. Chinese cement technology and equipment is exported to all four corners of the world, including Europe. Two production lines with the capacity of 10,000 tons of clinker per day have been installed in Saudi

Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The current market share of Chinese cement equipment globally is 37%. Chinese technology and equipment is installed also in Thailand for waste heat co-generation in kilns. By the end of 2006, 107 cement production lines around the world had adopted, or were planning to adopt, Chinese technologies and equipment.

Energy efciency in the Chinese cement industry

Energy consumption in the Chinese cement industry has reduced markedly as technology and equipment have improved. The average cement energy consumption in 2006 was 99 kg oil equivalent per ton, a reduction of 15% since 2002. According to a survey of more than 2000 Chinese cement plants in 2007, the average clinker heat consumption per ton of clinker produced was 88 kg of oil equivalent, although the clinker heat consumption for new dry process was 81 kg of oil equivalent, and the advanced level was even below 77 kg of oil equivalent.

Policies and measures on energy efciency and emissions reduction

The overall goal of the Chinese cement industry is to promote responsible use of resources through the appropriate use of technology whilst meeting the demands of national economic growth. In promoting this, key support will be given by the Central government to 60 selected large-scale cement enterprises. Additionally, older technologies will be phased out. Wet process kilns, long dry process kilns and shaft kilns represent older technologies and since 2006 all 206 wet process kilns have been eliminated and half of capacity based on shaft kilns remains to be phased out. In 2007 the Central government issued a decree allowing the phase out of 250 million tons of capacity for 2007-2010. Local governments have been asked to sign contracts with the Central government to enforce the plan. This will play a signicant part to reduce CO2 emissions. Various regulations and legal instruments will steer the phasing out, including the Product Quality Law, the Environmental Protection Law, Cement Industry Development Policies, a Special Programme on Cement Industry Development, and provisions for accelerating the Structural Adjustment of the Cement Industry, which have been approved by State Council.


The effects of reductions in energy use and CO2 emissions

The preliminary savings from phasing out 50 million tons of old plant capacity are 500 million kWh of power and 1.8 million tons of oil equivalent. At the same time, 600 thousand tons of dust, 590 thousand tons of CO2 and 150 thousand tons of SO2 can be reduced. By replacing 250 million tons of old plant capacity over ve years, 2.5 billion kWh of power will be saved, with expected avoided emissions of 3 million tons of dust, 3 million tons of CO2 and 750 thousand tons of SO2. The effects of energy saving and emission reduction are notable. Local governments will give allowances to the decommissioned small plants. All levels of governments are required to manage the redeployment of resultant laid-off workers. Old plant operators are to be offered priority for the ownership and/or shareholdings of new cement plants. Small cement plants could be turned into grinding stations if possible. Many measures should be taken to properly manage the different issues arising from the plants dismission. and the proportion of shaft kilns in use has been reduced further with a target of cutting their share in cement production by 30%. The proportion of cement produced with new dry process increased to 55% in 2007 and 61% in 2008. In 2007, it was estimated that 1 million tons of oil equivalent equating to 3.6 million tons of CO2 reduction - were saved by increasing the use of new dry process. By using new dry process, it is estimated that 3.3 million tons of SO2, 37 million tons of CO2 and 4.4 million tons of dust could be reduced in 2007, compared with the year 2001.

Efciency from process improvements

All wet process kilns have been replaced by dry process kilns with precalciner,

in low energy and low CO2 emission cements (or low-e cements). The low-e cements refer to the belite based clinker mineral composition design in cement compounds. One variant has been successfully commercialised in construction projects, including the Three Gorges Dam. Low-e cement can provide energy savings of up to 20% with resulting CO2 emission reductions of about 10% when compared with that of normal Portland cement. It also features improved workability, heat release, late-age strength and durability when compared with Portland cement and the concrete. Low-e cement helps optimise energy efciency in quality cement and concrete production. Chinas cement industry has thus made great progress in its environmental performance. The total power consumption per ton of cement in 2007 was at 81 kg of oil equivalent, 4% lower than 2006 and 9% lower than 2005. Specic heat consumption for clinker sintering decreased 2.8% from 2006 and 4.8% from 2005.


The future of Chinas cement industry

Forecasts indicate that cement consumption will peak at around 1.7-1.8 billion tons in 10 years. Concentration ratio (CR) is expected to rise ten percentage points to 70% and the number of cement companies is expected to reach 300: about 10 companies in each Province. By the year 2010, specic heat consumption will drop to 77 kg of oil equivalent per ton of clinker, 19.91% lower than 2005 (96 kg/t). Co-generation systems will be built in all new dry process lines to reduce CO2 emissions and promote clean development. By the year 2010, an electronic performance management system will be established in key businesses and will eventually be installed in all cement businesses by 2020. Emerging technologies such as low-e cements will be developed further to help make the Chinese cement industry improve its environmental performance.

Using alternative fuels, raw materials and co-generation

Through alternative fuels and raw materials and co-generation, natural resource inputs and fossil fuel use in cement production can be reduced. Efforts are made to reuse waste and recover waste process heat. Alternative fuels and raw materials are starting to be used in the cement kiln system in some demonstration projects. The clinker factor - the percentage of clinker in cement - in China is averagely 0.7. In 2007, waste management

improvements led the total amount of wastes disposed, including slag and y ash, to drop to 300 million tons, with a consequent reduction in CO2 emissions. So far 92 cement lines in China have adopted a pure-low-heat co-generation system. The total installed capacity is 740 MW and annual power output is 4.96 billion kWh. This saves 1.27 million tons of oil equivalent and reduces 4.73 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. A new way to reduce CO2 in cement production is through the increase in production of belitic clinker resulting