Cement conference: Focus on climate protection and resource conservation
After a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the cement conference of the Verein Deutscher Zementwerke e.V. (VDZ) was held again in presence at the Maritim Hotel Düsseldorf from 3 - 4 November 2022. Despite the longer break, the lecture hall was very well filled with about 300 experts from the plant engineering, cement and building materials industries.
The conference was opened by Christian Knell, President of VDZ. Dr. Martin Schneider then led through the program and introduced the first lecture by Dr. Jörg Rickert, Managing Director of VDZ Service GmbH and Head of the Cement Chemistry Department. Dr. Rickert presented in detail the new VDZ study “Resources of the Future for Cement and Concrete - Potentials and Strategies for Action”. The paper starts with an analysis of the initial situation as well as the political framework conditions. In addition to the guiding questions of the resource roadmap, the holistic approach considers both the saving of resources and the possibilities of the circular economy. In the 2050 scenario presented, mitigation opportunities were analyzed under projected boundary conditions such as construction demand, technological progress, etc. If the boundary conditions are right, primary raw material use can be reduced by up to 41%. The study can be downloaded at https://vdz.info/rs.
A number of other topics were presented by VDZ itself or with its cooperation, which dealt essentially with the dynamic development of the cement industry in Germany. Dr. Martin Schneider, Managing Director of VDZ, gave a presentation on the development of VDZ since its foundation in 1877. The basic idea to have a joint association was based on the efforts to ensure the quality of cement. It was therefore not long before the first cement standard was published in 1879. A large number of historical pictures vividly showed the development of the German cement industry with challenging intermediate steps that could be well mastered together. The challenges were very different over time: the restart after the Second World War, the increasing variation in cement composition due to political requirements for resource conservation and CO2 saving, the accompanying extensions of standards, or the work of the association within the framework of the European Union.
Another exciting topic being worked on by VDZ is in the VDZ Committee on Digitalization. With regard to the usability of operating data from cement plants and increasing automation as well as the introduction of AI applications, a paper from the working group “Standardization of data in cement plants” was presented by Prof. Philipp Fleiger under the topic “New perspectives of digitalization - The VDZ data standard”. The starting point was the development of a concept for structuring the data. The particular challenge was to take into account the different perspectives on the data to be collected, e.g. process engineering, maintenance or energy supply, as well as the possibility to switch between these perspectives.
“Technologies for CO2 capture in the clinker burning process” is of course just the topic to help VDZ’s CO2-Roadmap 2050 succeed. A paper on this was presented by Dr.-Ing. Kristina Fleiger and Dr.-Ing. Volker Hoenig (both VDZ). In addition to many other levers for CO2 reduction during the cement production process, CCUS techniques will play a significant role in achieving the set goals.
All in all, the VDZ Annual Cement Conference offered a wide range of highly topical subjects with a total of almost 20 presentations. This showed that the VDZ is openly confronting the current tasks of the day. Three presentations alone dealt with the topic of supplementary cementitious materials such as granulated blastfurnace slag, fly ash or calcined clays. Simone Schulze’s presentation showed the potentials of calcined clays as main cement constituents, which have been investigated at VDZ intensively for a long time. Alcemy also presented the possibilities of software-based analysis of cement and concrete properties to further reduce the clinker factor. Another topic was the necessary expansion of the CO2 transport network in Germany in order to be able to bring the CO2 to further processing locations.
Very practical topics were also discussed, such as the new construction of kiln line 8 at Märker Zement or the climate-friendly new construction of the U8 subway line in Hamburg. In addition to the wealth of topics, there was still sufficient time for professional exchange during the breaks and at the evening event. The next VDZ Annual Conference on Cement will again be held in Düsseldorf on November 9 and 10, 2023. VDZ is already inviting participants to its Cement Chemistry Conference on March 23, 2023.