K N Rao, director, energy & environment, ACC, completed his post-graduation in chemical engineering from IIT Madras in 1982. In the past 30 years, his work has focused on pollution control equipment design and manufacturing, environmental performance improvement and sustainable development for the cement industry. He spoke to
R N Bhaskar. Excerpts:
What would be the share of raw material and energy for cement plants in general, and for ACC in particular?
Cement manufacture is an energy intensive process. At ACC, raw material was 14% of the total cost last fiscal, while the share of energy was 22%. Typically, a modern cement plant in India would incur about 17% of its costs on raw materials. The share for energy would be about 30%.
How has ACC managed to reduce its raw material costs and energy costs over the last 5-10 years?
We adopted measures such as the enhanced utilisation of alternative raw materials like marble slurry, in addition to the use of industrial wastes like fly ash and slag. ACC has managed its energy costs through several different strategies – continuous upgradation of plants with latest technologies, through continuous adaptation of energy conservation measures, the use of alternative fuels and innovative means such as promoting green buildings, green energy and the promotion of waste heat recovery energy.
How has ACC managed to deal with residuals?
The cement manufacturing process does not produce any residual waste or discharge any solid or effluent waste. In fact, the cement industry gainfully utilises waste materials of other industries.
ACC has achieved spectacular results in the utilisation of the two industrial wastes — slag from steel plants and fly ash from thermal power stations – to make blended cements that offer unique advantages to concrete.
What should the government do to make cement industry more competitive?
There are so many areas where we would welcome government support. These include legislation support and incentives to promote co-processing as being a more environmentally sustainable waste disposal method. We look forward to support in the area of improving clinker factor by suitably modifying and creating new Indian standards to allow higher percentage of blending. If regulatory support can ensure free availability of industrial wastes like fly ash and slag to cement plants, it would encourage the cement industry to increase absorption levels of such waste, which otherwise pollutes the environment.