Table of Contents
Life Cycle Stages4
Raw Material Extraction5
Clinker Cooling and Storage7
Packaging and Shipping7
Recycling and Landfill8
Environmental Considerations Throughout Life Stages9
Air Quality and Pollution11
Land Quality and Biodiversity12
Alternative Suggestions in Minimizing Environmental Impact13
Solutions for Minimising Ecological Footprint13
Solutions for Improving Air Quality13
Solutions for Minimising Land Degradation14
A life-cycle assessment (LCA), as described by the US Environmental Protection Agency, is “a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a products life from cradle-to-grave”(USPA 2010). Therefore, an assessment of a product’s life cycle endeavors to analyze its existence from raw material extraction, to manufacturing, through to disposal.
This report will not provide adequate data for the purpose of undertaking an LCA, however, it is aimed at “thinking” about the life cycle, and collecting information from past LCA studies to undertake a report on concrete production, particularly focusing on the life-cycle of cement, a critical component of concrete. Therefore, the following “life cycle thinking” review will endeavor to utilize previous LCA studies in order gain an insight about the major environmental impacts throughout each lifestage, chiefly centering on cement manufacturing. Correspondingly, it will also discuss alternative strategies of delivering cement and concrete as a building material with fewer environmental impacts.
Concrete is a multifaceted construction material, which is assembled mainly from cement, water and aggregate (Reding et al 1977). Concrete is one of the most durable building materials, which allows it to exhibit many functions, including; precast elements, underwater construction, infrastructure formation and residential housing. In view of the fact that the life cycle stages and environmental impacts differ between manufacturing for each function concrete withholds, this report will focus on concretes function as a building material for residential housing and apartments (Anonymous 2012).
Concrete is labeled one of the most durable building materials; therefore concrete structures withhold an elongated service life (Reding et al 1977. As a result of this, concrete is the most extensively used construction material in the world and has contributed momentously to the built environment throughout history.
Life Cycle Stages
In a straightforward description, as mentioned above, concrete consists of three basic components, including cement, aggregates and water. Although there are various cement blends used for different purposes, this lifecycle review will focus particularly on Portland cement manufacturing, which is frequently utilized for industrial purposes (Anonymous 2012). In observing a life cycle of concrete manufacturing, the production of cement generally takes place separately, which is then transported to the selected building location, where water and aggregates are added to bind all components into one homogenous material – concrete (Anonymous 2012). Although there are obviously procedures in obtaining the water and aggregate for concrete production, the life-cycle discussed in this report will focus primarily on Portland Cement production (Reding et al 1977).
The major raw materials extracted for cement production include limestone, sand, shale and clay. These feedstock ingredients provide calcium carbonate, alumina, silica and ferric oxide, which are critical elements of cement (Anonymous 2012).