At the end of every year, we tend to look back on what we have accomplished in our respective industries. Has it been a year for growth, or have we hit a plateau? What is working for our sector, and what isn't? The global cement industry generated a lot of talk this year – in particular, because its year-end results were so bipolar in the different parts of the world. Europe and the Americas struggle a bit, while the industry is booming in Nigeria. It's an interesting sector to study because despite the fact that cement is a material that everyone needs, the production and distribution process faces many issues. Even big name players in the cement world, like Alex F Bouri, face these worries, despite how rapidly their businesses have grown.
Everywhere you look, someone is discussing 'going green,' 'global warming,' and how to reduce 'carbon footprints.' These buzzwords have been around for the past decade or so and aren't going anywhere. Needless to say, with a bulk product like cement, it's hard to cut back on the consumption of energy due to the need to collect raw materials. This always has, and probably always will, cause issues for cement giants to some extent.
We want to industrialize – and fast. The need for immediate gratification means that the formula of cement is always being adjusted so that it will dry more quickly. Of course, cement that dries quickly will have other issues – such higher levels of tricalcium silicate, which makes it crack more easily. As of yet, the perfect formula for cement has not been discovered.
In the same vein of energy consumption is the concern about emissions. One of the main byproducts of making concrete is carbon dioxide, and cement companies are the biggest culprits of CO2 pollution. Regulations have been put in place in many countries in an attempt to reduce these emissions, but hopefully technology advances as such that they will not be such a huge concern some years down the line.