A home is one of the most vital essentials of human life and it is incomplete without a house. Building a home or a structure that can accommodate business and human interaction is one of the most common practices around the world. Our countries are filled with malls and skyscrapers to accommodate the rising demands that come with the modern world. Now, before you scratch your head about what our conversation is about today, we must note that while seeing our buildings and construction sites is comforting, it has an impact on our environment as a whole.
Our choice of building infrastructure and materials solely depends on our weather. For example, many houses in Kenya are built with large bricks given their experience with cold weather, while the material used for construction in a tropical climate is far different. In Uganda, our most common construction raw material is cement. This grey material, often known as the glue to concrete is known to be one of the most efficient ingredients to our strong foundations and structures, however, cement-making carries a footprint on our environment that we may easily be ignorant of. What if I told you there is a secret?
Concrete is produced on a truly enormous scale. Every year, four tonnes of concrete are produced for every person on Earth, however, cement is responsible for 8% of all global emissions. Clinker, the key component in cement, is extremely carbon intensive, making up 90% of overall cement emissions in the fabrication of concrete. There is a magic solution to this. Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) is a type of cement that incorporates calcined clay and limestone as key components. It is considered a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cement because it typically has lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions during its production.
LC3 aims to reduce the overall carbon footprint of cement by using less clinker which is ideally the main ingredient to ordinary cement. It also uses calcined clay, which is clay that has been heated to high temperatures and then ground into a fine powder. Calcined clay serves as a partial replacement for clinker, contributing to the cement’s strength and durability. Last but not least, limestone is used in combination with calcined clay to produce a cementitious material. Limestone is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that is abundant and can be a more sustainable alternative compared to some other raw materials used in cement production.
According to We Economic Forum, LC3 is already growing rapidly and is currently being produced in several plants around the world. For each ton of calcined clay produced, we save 600 kilograms of CO2. By the end of 2023, LC3 will have already saved around 15 million tons of CO2. If the cement industry widely adopts the use of LC3, it can help prevent up to 500 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030, all just by improving our building materials. The combination of these materials in LC3 is designed to enhance the performance of the cement while reducing its environmental impact, particularly in terms of CO2 emissions. The development and use of LC3 represent ongoing efforts within the construction industry to find more sustainable practices and materials to mitigate the environmental impact associated with traditional cement production.
Of course, the question is how applicable this may be in Africa, especially in ratio to our large growing population and the availability of limestone on the continent. A lot of these changes call for an investment on our part as a continent to make this dream a reality.
“LC3: Bridging the gap between tradition and tomorrow, where the alchemy of ancient materials meets the promise of a low-carbon future.”