Ecocem Ireland are producers of a low carbon cement alternative known as GGBS (Ground Granulated Blastfurnace Slag). The Irish company which was first set up in 2001 with a business focus on mainland Europe opened its first Irish facility in 2003. This facility can produce approx 350,000 tonnes of GGBS cement.
As operators of the first purpose built GGBS grinding plant in Ireland, Ecocem target the reduction of Co2 emissions in the construction sector. Ecocem equate that if their product had been used during the recent Irish building boom over 2,000,000 tonnes of Co2 would have been saved. The production of ordinary cement products in Ireland is believed to be the second largest source of Co2 emissions after electricity generation. Ecocem estimate that about 90% of environmental impacts associated with construction sites are derived from cement. These include effects of greenhouse gas emissions, acidification, winter smog, eutrophication and primary energy requirements. Producers believe using Ecocem as an alternative can significantly reduce all of these impacts. The fundamental difference in the manufacture of Ecocem's low carbon cement product involves the recycling of an industrial by-product called blastfurnace slag which generates very low Co2 emissions comparably. The blastfurnace slag material is generally shipped from the UK where it would otherwise be disposed as a waste product. Ecocem refer to this as 'up-cycling' rather than recycling.
As opposed to the production of regular cement where approx 1.6 tonnes of clay, shale and limestone are removed from the landscape for every tonne of cement manufactured, Ecocem has practically no depletion of natural resources associated with manufacturing their product. Other benefits of this include no contribution to damaging the physical landscape through quarrying, less associated traffic, noise and dust.
Other benefits of the product include the technical load bearing and strength of the product and the ability to mix the product to different specifications including the use of low carbon cement as a part substitute in building projects. Ecocem also claim their cement product uses far less embodied energy than regular cement.
Barriers and Drivers
Ecocem's prospects for expansion and the adoption of the product as mainstream is largely dependent on building and construction specifications as set out in contracts and tenders. A major area where this has not yet been fully embraced is within the public sector. Until green procurement legislation becomes finalised, Ecocem will continue to compete against other cement producers in tender process which does not fully regard their key environmental benefits.
Ecocem production is heavily reliant on the availability of blastfurnace slag, any changes within the UK steel industrial or and the quantity and quality of this by-product would impact directly on Ecocem's ability to continue business.
Ecocem are an Irish company who provide their product to suppliers nationwide. Their product has been used in many high profile projects such as the Luas Taney Bridge in Dundrum, the Jack Lynch tunnel in Cork and the Aviva sports stadium.
Ecocem employ about 10 people directly and many more indirectly.
Ecocem have calculated their product to have a carbon footprint of zero. Carbon reduction is assisted through offsetting of the low electricity emissions associated with the manufacturing process. Cement production has also been associated with emitting other pollutants such as dioxins. The production of Ecocem's GGBS cement however releases no other known pollutants.
( 1 Vote )