Innovation, which has been in the Group’s blood for 200 years, enables us to tackle present and future sustainable-development issues.
Finding solutions for tomorrow
Ever since the invention of artificial cement by Louis Vicat in 1817 we have been implementing an R&D policy that takes advantage of our community presence and our passion for materials. Our objective is to use our expertise to come up with answers to a broad range of issues and to help build the world of tomorrow. The end purpose of innovation in construction is to rethink housing and the city, to imagine new, affordable models of co-existence and transport that are responsible with respect to the environment and biodiversity. To meet current and future challenges (climate change, preservation of biodiversity, and demographic growth), cement and concrete are changing, adapting. The quality of materials alone is no longer paramount: we have to take account of the functionalities that can be associated with products.
Developing low-carbon products
To reduce the carbon footprint of Vicat cements and concretes, our teams are developing innovative products whose manufacture requires fewer raw materials and less energy. We are also producing materials with high thermal insulation properties. Our know-how means we can specify the right concrete for the right place so as to achieve optimum performance without excessive material consumption. And not only are our new products eco-designed, but their recycling in our facilities is maximized.
Improving our industrial processes
Our people work to bring about overall improvement of the entire industrial cycle so as to reduce our CO2 emissions. This calls for us to use more ‘green’ fuel (biomass and high-energy waste replacing fossil fuels) for clinker production. It also means we must improve the energy efficiency of our industrial processes. Three of our five cement plants in France (the three largest energy consumers) are certified against ISO 50001, demonstrating our commitment to reducing our energy consumption year by year.
Providing an eco-responsible solution for local waste management
Our cement plants provide anyone in the area with opportunities for beneficial disposal of waste in a manner fitting our own environmental and quality concerns:
- High-energy waste can replace fossil fuels.
- Mineral waste from contaminated soil or foundry sand can be used instead of new natural mineral materials.
- Aggregate recycled from concrete waste can be used in our concrete (‘recycled concrete aggregate concrete’) or to make road bases, etc.
Limiting the impact of transport
To reduce the ecological impact of transporting materials, we take advantage of every opportunity to use alternative methods. For example, at our Montalieu cement plant in France, we built Europe’s longest overland conveyor (6.5 km), which saves 1,000 liters of diesel consumption every day. In 2017 we also developed ‘Oxygène’, our hybrid concrete mixer truck which reduces CO2 emissions by 96% and makes only half as much noise as a conventional engine.
Our researchers at the Louis Vicat Technical Center in France work to help promote repair of heritage assets. The R&D team there has developed tools for diagnosing pathologies associated with the concretes used in the 19th and 20th centuries, which means we can propose repair solutions.