What is cement?

Cement as we know it today was invented almost 200 years ago, and since then has played a crucial role in the the development of our homes, cities, and infrastructure.

Cement is made by heating a mix of limestone and clay to approximately 1,450 degrees celsius in a rotary kiln. The resulting product, created by sintering, is known as clinker. In the cement mill, gypsum is added to the clinker and the mixture is then ground to a fine powder, resulting in traditional Portland cement. Although the production of cement is energy-intensive, its embodied energy compared to other materials such as steel and aluminum is respectively about 25 and 200 times lower.

When mixed with water, sand, and aggregates, cement acts as a binder that creates a highly resistant, durable, and strong material known as concrete. Concrete is the most used building material in the world. Currently, per year an estimated 13 billion cubic meters of concrete is produced from the four billion tonnes of cement manufactured worldwide.



What is concrete?

Concrete is a unique product. The materials required for its production are available in most of the populated locations around the world. Once cement is mixed with aggregates and water it remains workable for hours, which allows it to be transported and placed. It gains strength relatively fast, and once hardened it is strong, durable, and can resist extreme environmental conditions. Much of the progress in global housing, industrialization, and transportation over the last century was only possible thanks to the development of cement and concrete.

Our vision at Holcim is to provide foundations for society’s future. Our products connect people across the world through their use in roads, bridges, and tunnels. They support the sustainable growth of cities in building infrastructure, and help our civilization to develop through the construction of dams and power plants. For this, we at Holcim work every day to provide our customers with high quality products that fulfill their needs, from bag cement to ultra high performance concrete. Our commitment to society and the environment has led us to continuously improve the eco-efficiency of our processes, from the quarry to the point of sale.


Key figures cement

Consolidated key figures for cement in 2014
Production capacity cement in million t 211.4
Cement and grinding plants 144
Sales of cement in million t 140.3
Net sales1 in million CHF 12,509
Operating profit1 in million CHF 2,104
Personnel 44,403

1Includes all other cementitious materials   

 

Consolidated sales of cement 2014 per region1
Asia Pacific 71.2 million t
Latin America 24.6 million t
Europe 26.4 million t
North America 13.0 million t
Africa Middle East 8.3 million t

 

Inter-regional sales -3.2 million t



Cement solutions for our customers

Holcim aims to be the company of choice in cement. In order to meet customer needs Holcim is not simply a materials supplier - we provide complete solutions.

 

 

In meeting future challenges, research and development (R&D) in sustainable and energy-efficient manufacturing plays an important role for Holcim, one of the largest suppliers of cement, aggregates and ready-mix concrete worldwide. The substitution of fossil fuels by renewable fuels in the energy-intensive cement manufacturing process conserves natural resources and reduces CO2emissions.

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In meeting future challenges, research and development (R&D) in sustainable and energy-efficient manufacturing plays an important role for Holcim, one of the largest suppliers of cement, aggregates and ready-mix concrete worldwide. The substitution of fossil fuels by renewable fuels in the energy-intensive cement manufacturing process conserves natural resources and reduces CO2emissions.

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Holcim (Switzerland) has already massively reduced CO2 emissions by making changes to cement production and composition. With its new cement, Holcim Optimo, Holcim takes its achievements to a new level. Holcim Optimo is a sophisticated product for all applications in all respects, delivering an effective contribution to more sustainable building.

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Wind energy gains in importance and every generation of windmills is more efficient. While the energy produced is sustainable, the recycling of the rotor blades causes a problem to the industry. Now, a sustainable process has been found how to recycle the blades. The cement plant Lägerdorf of Holcim Germany utilizes used rotor blades as alternative resource in the cement production process.

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