Indonesia: The Rise of Green Cement and Its Potential Substitution

Talking about green building construction, cement is one of many important substances that is interesting to be discussed. It is the basic ingredient of concrete, which is widely used in structures and foundations for its strength. In addition, cement is pourable and could be conformed to different shapes. These advantages bring cement to be a highly demanded building construction material.

However, cement manufacturing has been known as one of many manufacturing processes that produce a significant amount of carbon emissions. It is commonly made from calcium carbonate, that’s extracted from limestone, rock, chalk or clay. This extraction calls for heating process that requires fossil fuels and afterwards, produces carbon emission. Even more, when heated, limestone will release carbon dioxide (CO2) gas into the atmosphere. Overall, cement manufacturing contributes about 5% of global man-made CO2 emissions.

Green Cement for Green Building

The awareness of living green has increased and green building standards have been developed across the globe. It leads to a higher demand of green construction materials. As one of many important materials, a lot of cement manufacturing companies create a more environmentally friendly cement to support the green building construction. According to Dr. Djwantoro Hardjito, a Professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Petra Christian University, Surabaya, new ‘cement’ can be considered green material, for it emits less carbon dioxide to the atmosphere during its production and it needs less virgin raw materials to produce while maintaining its performance.

In addition, Oepoyo Prakoso, Corporate Environment and Compliance Manager of Holcim Indonesia said that during the green cement production, the cement manufacturers must apply Environmental Management System (EMS), Quality Management System (QMS) and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Management System. He also added that there are many ways to reduce the carbon emissions that come from manufacturing process. Firstly, reducing the use of clinker material per ton of cement by replacing part of clinker with other additive material. Secondly, using alternative fuel, which has lower carbon emission such as biomass fuel and other waste fuel. Lastly, conducting a proper maintenance to generate energy efficiency in the process. Even though there are some differences in manufacturing process, Oepoyo believes that there is no difference between the qualities of the green and the regular type of cement that is produced by Holcim Indonesia. “We still have to follow national standard or ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standard,” said Oepoyo.

At the same time, Dr. Djwantoro sees the trend in cement manufacturing, “We may need to be aware that most of cement manufacturers have been seriously putting their efforts to greener their product and reduce the CO2 emissions from their production processes”. He also gave an example that in Indonesia, most of cement available in the market is either from PPC (Portland Pozzolanic Cement) or PCC (Portland Composite Cement) type, which is more environmentally friendly.

Innovation for The Near Future

Besides all the efforts by cement manufacturing company, Dr. Djwantoro – as a researcher, has made an innovation. He did a research on Sidoarjo Volcanic Mud in Indonesia to explore its potentials as construction materials to the further reduction in the CO2 emissions from cement or concrete production. He found that with a proper treatment, the mud has been proven to be an excellent pozzolanic material, which enables the production of high volume Sidoarjo mud mortar or concrete. Significant cement replacement by the treated mud will eventually reduce the CO2 emissions because comparing to regular cement production, which needs a temperature of 1400⁰C, the volcanic mud needs a lower temperature (600-800⁰C) on the treatment process to enable the mud to become a reactive material. Therefore, the process needs less fossil fuel.

The other advantage of the treated mud is its finer particle size, which leads to a better workability. About the durability, Dr. Djwantoro said that he is still moving forward to explore it on the long-term properties. However, based on his study, this material has an excellent durability on the short-term properties. Furthermore, the treated mud is also an excellent candidate to be used as the raw material for geopolymer.

Even so, Dr. Djwantoro finds that the amount of the mud available may not be sufficient for massive industrial arrangement. “My expectation, this invention can be applied into practice for buildings or infrastructures in Sidoarjo and their surrounding, to enable the conversion of un-wanted material into something valuable and environmentally friendly – from waste to wealth,” he explained. He also expects that this study would trigger many other studies to explore the potentials of other un-wanted or waste to be greener construction materials. ( – YTA)

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