The evolution of the cement production is characterized by a gap between chemistry and engineering.
‘Engineering’ is defined as the application of ‘science’ to the design, building and use of machines.
‘Chemistry’ is defined as a branch of science which deals with the elements, the compounds they form and the reactions that they undergo.
The difficulty arises from the following factors ( Chatterjee XIII ICCC Madrid 2011) :
- The chemical studies are generally carried out in small scale, under equilibrium conditions, and in a synthetically created environment using purer raw materials while the plant-based chemical transformations occur in very large scale, often in disequilibrium conditions; mostly with natural raw materials and complex environmental conditions.
- The scale-up of laboratory studies of chemical reactions to the plant scale process is fraught with problems of reproducing the laboratory findings.
- The controls in the laboratory study of chemical reactions are simple and direct, while in a plant the process controls are mostly indirect and largely dependent on the intrinsic capability of the electronic system deployed.
The synthesis of large quantities of mineral having a controlled chemistry and mineralogy
could improve the link between chemistry and engineering and the laboratory and industrial scale.
- The production of a mineral at a significant scale (Kg) and controlled composition (chemistry and mineralogy) allows a safe extrapolation of the results from the laboratory to the plant
- Using an industrial cement requires a costly set of analysis for the identification of the sample. It is not required for a synthetic product.
- The industrial conditions of burning, cooling (thermal profile, atmosphere) of an industrial product are not known precisely and renders uncertain the correlations between composition and properties.
- The quantity of minor elements introduced as solid solution into the synthetic phases is precise.
- The cement industry rarely provides the intermediated compounds (clinker).