Ecocem Ireland sponsored Eimear Carlin on her climate change expedition to Antarctica in 2013.

Ecocem Ireland sponsored Eimear Carlin on her climate change expedition to Antarctica in 2013.

Orcem requires nearly 90 percent less energy to produce than an equivalent amount of portland cement. This reduced energy consumption consequently reduces emissions of pollutants such as CO2, SOX, NOX and mercury, associated with portland cement production. As a low energy, low pollution product, Orcem has a major role to play in the growing demand for green construction. Green construction has grown from $3 billion in 2005 to $58 billion in 2011 and is anticipated to reach $122 billion in 2015, according to researcher McGraw-Hill.

One of the standard bearers for green construction is the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system. LEED was developed in 1998 by the United States Green Building Council to rate a building’s environmental performance.

Orcem can contribute to several LEED credit categories including:

Using Orcem also avoids the need for mining of virgin raw materials such as limestone, shale, clay and fossil fuels that are used for the production of portland cement. A ton of portland cement actually requires about 1.6 tons of raw materials, because of mass lost due to emissions of CO2 and other volatile compounds. As a result, substituting 50 percent Orcem can save between 250 and 600 pounds of virgin material per cubic yard of concrete.

The primary raw material in Orcem is a recycled byproduct from the first stage in the production of steel. It is a byproduct of converting iron ore to metallic iron in a blast furnace. During this process a precise blend of iron ore, limestone and fuel enter the iron blast furnace and the intense heat of 1600°F to 2300°F (900°C to 1300°C) destroys organic compounds and volatilizes remaining pollutants that are then extracted in the gas stream and managed with the plant’s pollution control equipment. This leaves in the blast furnace only the molten metallic iron (which is extracted for processing into steel) and the lighter non-ferrous metals such as calcium, silicon, aluminum, magnesium that float on top of the molten iron and are extracted and further processed in their molten state by a granulator to produce GBFS, granulated blast furnace slag, the key ingredient of Orcem.

The U.S. EPA considers Orcem a “recovered material” and promotes the use of recovered materials through its Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) program, which requires Federal procuring agencies to purchase goods with the highest recovered material content level practicable.