Sustainable construction materials with a small CO2 footprint are playing an ever more important role for us and our customers. We use special additives in order to improve the CO2 balance of the products based on our Portland cement. These alternative materials, which are waste products from steel mills and coal-fired power plants, partially replace Portland cement clinker in the production of "composite cement". We have also been working for several years to develop alternative binding materials that almost completely eliminate the need for conventional clinker.
Research and Development
Of course, at HeidelbergCement we are also working to develop new products. In 2017, we intensified our efforts to develop products with improved sustainability performance and solutions to support sustainable development.?One of the areas of focus of the activities at our central research laboratory in Leimen, Germany, and our product innovation laboratory in Bergamo, Italy, was the development of products with a better carbon footprint and improved performance in terms of the energy efficiency of buildings. We have developed various alternatives to traditional cement with reduced environmental impact, such as Ternocem?, an innovative belite calciumsulfoaluminate ternesite cement, or composite cements with a significantly lower clinker content.
Many of these alternative products come from waste materials produced in other sectors of industry. In this way, we make an active contribution to improving the circular economy. Several products have been field-tested in pilot applications and a few of these have already been marketed. We are also continuing to work on products that support the energy transition, such as Powercrete?, a special concrete with exceptionally high thermal conductivity, which allows high-voltage cables to be laid underground.
Our commitment to the circular economy is also reflected in our involvement in the Dutch concrete recycling company Rewinn B.V., Amsterdam, which we established together with our local partner Theo Pouw BV, Utrecht, Netherlands. The company developed positively in 2017, and we are now in a position to produce up to 250,000 tonnes of aggregates from recycled concrete per year. These are already used in numerous applications, such as the production of fresh concrete.
As a founding member of the Concrete Sustainability Council, we played a leading role in the development of a certification system for sustainably produced concrete, which was introduced at the beginning of 2017. In the reporting year, all our cement and concrete plants in the Netherlands were certified, as were nine concrete plants of the German subsidiary Heidelberger Kurpfalz Beton GmbH & Co. KG in the Heidelberg area. With the certification of concrete – taking into account social, economic, and ecological aspects along the value chain – the product and the entire industry is gaining greater acceptance.
As a leading building materials producer, we have further strengthened our commitment to Green Building Councils, the European Construction Technology Platform, and other associations in order to support and accelerate developments in the area of sustainable construction and market transformation.?