Lafarge accelerates its innovation strategy

29 September 2010

Aether, a project aimed at reducing the CO2 footprint of cement, receives financial support from the European Union

Aether, an innovative project developed by Lafarge to reduce the CO2 footprint of cement, is receiving support from the European Union. This support is provided under the European "LIFE+" program, a financing instrument supporting environmental projects. Aether has been developed in collaboration with the Institute for Building Materials in Poland (MBM) and the British Building Research Establishment (BRE). It will contribute to continuing the reduction on the Group's CO2 emissions.

Aether, a new clinker formulation to cut CO2

This new product is a clinker, the main component of cement. It has been tested in the laboratory, as well as in an industrial kiln, and has demonstrated its full potential. Results show that Aether could represent an alternative to traditional Portland cement offering comparable technical properties, manufactured in a traditional cement plant kiln after just a few modifications, and leading to a lower overall environmental footprint.

Aether, is a new clinker chemistry, which allows Lafarge to go further by acting on two fronts:

  • reducing the level of limestone and therefore increasing the part of gypsum, clay and bauxite, providing a 25% reduction in CO2emissions;
  • reducing the firing temperature required for the chemical reaction to occur (~1300°C), providing a 15% reduction in energy consumption.

For more than 20 years, Lafarge has been working to reduce its CO2 emissions through:

  • the use of cement additives such as grinded limestone fly ash and slag, to reduce the amount of burnt limestone;
  • the use of alternative fuels and improvements in energy efficiency (by optimizing the process and modernizing plants), to reduce the proportion of fossil fuels used by plants.

Innovation, a Group's strategic priority

Lafarge has made innovation one of its two strategic priorities in order to offer its customers materials which correspond to their needs, as well as breakthrough solutions which will address the challenges of tomorrow. Lafarge wants to act at every phase of a building's lifespan; it therefore offers both innovative materials with a lower environmental footprint and construction solutions reducing the total energy consumed by a building.

Lafarge's R&D teams, representing 500 people, among which 250 researchers, are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Technology Center site near Lyon. For more than 120 years, they have been striving to develop the knowledge of materials and push back their technical and aesthetic limits. Lafarge R&D now has an annual budget of €150m, dedicated to innovative projects aiming to build a more sustainable world.


Notes to editors

Lafarge is the world leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in all of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum. With 78,000 employees in 78 countries, Lafarge posted sales of Euros 15.9 billion in 2009.
In 2010 and for the sixth year in a row, Lafarge was listed in the ‘Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World'. With the world's leading building materials research facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities, working for sustainable construction and architectural creativity.

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