Cement – “Sustainability Manufacturing” Update for 2015
Who Invented Cement –
Not the British in the 1800s with their Portland Cement as was originally believed. Skip to Ancient Rome where they heated limestone, adding it to sand or gravel to make mortar and entire walls, even curing cement under water for harbor construction. In older times, Egyptians made up a mixture of calcined gypsum, note the smooth walls of the Temple at Saqqara (my favorite place).
Surprisinly, the use of cement goes back much further. To document technology, we can push the history of cement back as far as now possible, to the Vinca Culture people at 7 thousand years BC, possibly to 9 thousand BC.
Vinca people constructed cement foundations for their homes with the help of naturally occurring limestone deposits. We know this because their cement was so durable that the foundations of 137 homes and several larger buildings (we presume to be community meeting rooms) still exist – the very first “tract” homes of a planned community. The village of Lepinski Vir in Serbia, near Belgrade is preserved in a new museum with these foundations, spread out for visitors to see. The ancient designer favored the shape of a trapazoid, with the broadest side of that geometric shape, facing outward toward the beach-front of the Danube River, and affording a view of Mt. Treskavek (which resembles a trapazoid).
Engineers and archaeologists were able to move these building foundations to higher land for the museum when the Danube was rising. This shows how durable these cement foundations were and still are. Remember, this cement is at least 8 thousand years old, and could be 9, 10 K and older. These people also had the oldest written script, truly remarkable.
Fri 05 Feb 2010 04:06 PM PST – Article reconstruction due to the pilfering of the Zero-Amp Technology website on Feb. 25, 2012
This article by Charlotte Wilson first appeared in Opednews Feb. 3, 2010 http://www. opednews. com/populum/diarypaqe.php?did= 15708 and was then removed by the government.
Why look at cement – Because it is always with us. Statisticians say demand for cement is down when building construction is down, but it is still the most popular building material anywhere – how can we not cement.
“No company will make carbon-neutral cement any time soon.” So says the UK “Guardian,” in their article, “The unheralded polluter: cement industry comes clean on its impact.”
The general public doesn’t know about cement; even experts in technology development, and even I didn’t know that cement plants are gross polluters. Cement has been made the same way for 150 years; the public believes that there is only one way to do that; they believe pollution is inevitable.
There are two major issues to deal with in rendering the production of cement carbon-neutral: first – pollution is a byproduct when the chemical components react during the process…and secondly, pollution comes from the huge amounts of energy needed to make cement.
Now, there are two new technologies that address each of these issues.
The two issues of contention in cement production:
- The need for massive amounts of power but without pollution – problem solved by the technology of Peter Sumaruck of Zero-Amp Tech. Inc. of Waco, Texas…
- Secondly, by circumventing the chemical changes which take place in cement production – issue solved by Brent Constanz of Calera of Los Gatos, CA.
The reason the public believes cement is benign is because for 186 years – since the invention of modern cement – no one imagined the process could ever be clean…but now we are getting closer.
Just how unclean is cement – pollution occurs from the use of coal, natural gas or oil as fuel in a burn of aggregates, silica and lime at 2700 degrees F, in large cylindrical steel rotating kilns.
Inside, the extreme heat causes a chemical change to take place. The entire process uses an enormous amount of energy – 6 million Btus for every ton of cement produced. Cement production uses the most energy of all industrial manufacturing processes. Please read that again: the production of cement uses more energy than anything that is manufactured…anything.
In cement production, there are two places where C02 is emitted extensively:
- Place # 1: to power the entire production operation (.6% of total US energy use) which emit’s a great deal of C02 – an understatement.
- The second emission of C02 comes when the chemical process of calcination takes place, converting limestone to lime, thus turning the aggregate into smooth pieces called clinkers. These pieces are ground down and gypsum is added. All this is then heated in pyroprocessing at extreme degrees. Research done by Oak Ridge Laboratory shows ½ ton of C02 is produced per ton of cement.
Other emissions come from the dust generated by cement production – hauling and grinding of materials. Also there is water pollution from cleanup and washout procedures – water can run at pH 12 where high alkalinity is hazardous to fish. Mercury from the fuel used can attach to particulates in the air in emissions and also in the exhaust as a gas. See: earth justice re: mercury toxins .
It is also possible that cement can offgas small amounts of formaldehydes into the air.
What can be done – All this builds a discomforting picture …rather than whine, I look for solutions – can anything be done.
1. Relocate cement production to unpopulated areas. Plant (re)building costs are high and towns have a habit of springing up where jobs are provided so that is a disadvantage. Some companies are relocating to other countries where pollution regulations are lax and fines are low. That may be recommended by those who care only for the bottom line, and the outlook of shareholders, not humankind.
2. Use garbage/trash i.e burning old tires and/or hazardous chemicals for the high temperature heating – this has/is being done but only for a small percentage of the total fuel needed. This concept was used for waste disposal (some time ago, coincidentally in Los Gatos), but there has not been enough venture capital to support this as the ultimate waste management universal system, an answer not popular with waste management companies. However, it is common practice to obtain methane gas, captured from landfill, for energy.
3. Make sure all motors are running at optimum efficiency. Peter Sumaruck is the only person in America who can achieve 100 % efficiency with motors.
4. Use power that does not generate pollution, to solve the 1st of the major emissions problems. If you can produce energy without generating pollution, that would remedy the issues of the cost factor and pollution in needing to use extreme heat necessary for cement production.
We have the technology to do this. Right now you can power your home using the power production system invented by Peter Sumaruck. This is a generator that once started, will not stop until you turn it off (30 years is the architectural standard for the life of a building). The power is electric but without batteries. The technology is scalable and could be applied to the larger task of fueling the process of cement production.
5. Solving the second major issue: The #2 emission producer in the cement-making process occurs with the chemical change of components in the process of calcination and pyroprocessing. From the “Wall Street Journal,” Brent Constanz of Calera (the word in Spanish means limekiln) in Los Gatos, CA has developed a way of bubbling C02 fumes through brackish water and seaweed, as it comes from Dynegy Inc’s natural gas-burning power plant in Moss Landing, CA. Then capturing the “chalky substance,” they make that into cement.
Mr. Constanz believes he can capture C02 before it is released into the atmosphere, and then use it as a building block for cement. He says one ton of cement captures ½ a ton of C02. The Calera company also says it eliminated the need to heat limestone, so no more high temperatures.
Apparently, the Calera process does not itself produce energy (he would still need energy to drive his process), and his operation must be placed next to a power plant to utilize it’s C02 pollutants.
This would be a symbiotic relationship with this other gross polluter. Since he still needs to power his process, that means we are only solving half the problem of cement pollution, one way or another.
There may be other complication to the Calera process – are they limited by location. To make cement this way, one would presumably need to be close to a power plant that emits C02 so they can hook up. The situation needs a supply of brackish water and seaweed. Fortunately, these factors are present with the Moss Landing site…but can this happen in Kansas.
There is an abundance of seaweed worldwide so you could import what you need, but freshness could be key to chemical success.
Then, of course you would need a controlled environment for this to take place – you could not run your C02 through a free-moving tidal flow without an ocean, and there is the complicated question of marine life. I have been down to that water at Moss Landing, and yes it is brackish …to the degree that those kayakers would not want to overturn and be doused in the soup.
I asked a tour guide, “I understand there’s pollution here?”
She whispered with a bristle (to save her livelihood), “There’s pollution everywhere in the world.” Yes, but that doesn’t mean there should be, I thought.
What is the EPA doing – Why do they allow toxins at Moss Landing. And will Calera add or subtract pollution from or into the water and habitat. Eklhorn Slough, running into Moss Landing could be pristine and gorgeous with its purple clouds and water finger inlets, but pollution already invades from not only the power plant.
Behind Dynegy Inc. are two dairy farms where the cows have a view and can walk down, literally, to the water’s edge – a good rain or just plane percolation can’t help but effect marine life in the slough.
Have you looked at sea otters up close; they have a lifestyle unto themselves, fascinating to observe and worthy of preservation [below, we will talk about the Davenport cement plant, which has worked for the preservation of a certain frog living on their 10,000 acre property; this is a good thing but I would rather save sea otters; they each show their individual personality; they look right up at you, eye to eye].
The life of a cement plant – how does it fit into a small-town community as an essential industrial component. Just 30 miles up the coast from Moss Landing is the tiny town of Davenport. It is a company town without a company…a cement company. Cement has been produced there for more than 100 years, starting in the boom times of the construction growth of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.
Cement for the superstructure of the Golden Gate bridge was produced in Davenport.
On Jan. 22, 2010, the Cemex cement plant of Davenport ceased to be. Six months ago, the plant shut down operations and laid off 100 employees due to the economic downturn in the construction industry. That was supposed to be temporary; now the closing is permanent.
The final curtains aren’t closed on this operation until the State of California and EPA are satisfied that hazardous materials have been removed from the property, and the quarry next door be “returned to its natural state” …if that is possible.
The international cement giant, Cemex of Monterey, Mexico has owned the Davenport plant, quarries and timberland of 10,000 acres since 2005, when they purchased it from the British RMC for $5.8 billion. Of their 14 plants in the United States, Cemex spokesperson, Jennifer Borgen says, “This California plant is (without saying why) our most expensive to operate.”
Davenport has had it’s “challenges.” Cemex wanted to expand their limestone mining in the quarries on their property, but their bid was held up for “environmental issues.”
Chromium 6 – In 2008, cancer-causing chromium 6 was detected in the air. Cemex did not pay its cleanup bill of $488,232.00 to Santa Cruz County. Added to this problem, the EPA said this plant was a major emitter of C02 and a serious source of mercury pollution.
Chromium 6 can be eliminated by using more expensive iron ore instead of slag in the process” (iron ore would never be used by either of the two emerging technologies described earlier).
Many in the cement production industry believe the new EPA standards will be prohibitively high. Some ask if any cement plant will be able to keep up with increasing standards. In the distant future, will cement production be outsourced to Namibia.
Stewardship – Cemex has tried very hard to be a good “steward” (a word Cemex frequently uses), by working with the Davenport community, and with the University of California in an ecology-minded approach to managing the 9,000 acres of Cemex forest property – what will happen now is unsure.
Forest and wild fires have been a serious issue in the hills and mountains behind the Davenport plant for the past two summers, engulfing homes close to the city of Santa Cruz. This forest acreage must be managed. Cemex has worked with the community’s water resources, by reusing waste water to “have a zero discharge into the Monterey Bay” which is only feet away from their property. We are not sure how much water was used at the plant on a daily basis, but a green paper http://www.environment-support.org/news/cemexenvironmental-excellence-award.html issued by the company states that by using waste water in the plant’s cooling system, Cemex reduced their “use of fresh water by more than 200,000 gallons” a month.
In 2008, the Davenport plant received an EPA Energy Star award for energy efficiency after a retrofit of 13 equipment motors, raising the thermal energy efficiency % (they have not been direct in declaring the actual increased efficiency), and saving “2.1 million kilowatt hours annually” for the previous 4 years. Also, the plant was recycling 26,000 tons of kiln dust annually by putting it back in with the aggregate mix, thus reducing some of the needs for new raw materials.
The title of the above Cemex image-builder article is “Cemex Mixes Sustainability Manufacturing with Profitability” but what does that say. The green world, green industries, green technologies are all using and misusing the word “sustainable.” Time and progress are redefining this word. Can cement production actually be sustainable… It can if new technology is accepted…if not, readers need to reassess the word, sustainable.
Cemex stated that they employed 121 annually with a payroll of $8 million, making them a leading taxpayer in Santa Cruz County. But it was never a high density employer as would be a tech corporate in Silicon Valley. 121 people in 10,000 acres of space may be considered industrial but of the old school of production, doing an old-fashioned job, a task that still must be done, somehow, somewhere – make cement.
That was in the past 100 years; those 121 employees are gone now. This is the now, with a vacant building, wire fences and padlocks, and only a few guards on patrol, who frowned at me as I took pictures. Cemex still owns the plant and the adjoining land, and still has certain responsibilities for it “stewardship.”
Five miles back down the highway toward Santa Cruz is the county landfill. Maybe Cemex should get into the waste management business…but not as just another landfill. A derelict building is flagrant waste. If cement plants worldwide are disposing of waste products by burning them at high temperatures, that is already a type of waste management. We know that fuel is no longer needed to power the burn process – via the Sumaruck power production system – The plant is there, the furnace can still fire hot, and landfill (the “dump”) is rising – why not give the Davenport plant new work to do. I suggest Cemex consider this potential opportunity.
URL of article when previously published on Worldviewopinion.com http://www.worldviewopinion.eom/blog/_archives/2010/2/5/4449160.html 3/10/2012
For questions and comments, contact information officer, Charlotte Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org