Cement and concrete analysis

Supporting efficient, high-quality, sustainable cement production

As the push for a circular, Net Zero industry drives the use of alternative fuels and clinker replacements, robust elemental and mineralogical analysis is increasingly essential to high-quality cement production. At the same time, particle size analysis remains critical for optimizing grinding efficiency and final cement properties. More than ever, cement manufacturers need tight control of every step in the production process to achieve maximum efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and quality.

To improve their cement’s quality and consistency, while also supporting sustainability and reducing production costs, manufacturers need reliable material analysis solutions. Solutions like Malvern Panalytical’s world-leading instruments: X-Ray Diffraction for mineralogical analysis, X-Ray Fluorescence and Activated Neutrons Cross Belt analyzers for chemical compositions and our Laser Diffraction solutions for particle sizes distributions. Our cement portfolio provides a one-stop set of solutions for all parts of the production process. The solutions integrate seamlessly into your existing production processes, and come with support that you can count on, anywhere in the world.

Which instrument for which operation in the cement process? Find the answer in the illustration below.

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Benefit from:

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World-leading instruments

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One-stop set of analytical solutions

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Seamless integration

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Global service and support

Raw materials extraction

When selecting raw materials, manufacturers need to keep costs minimal, while ensuring that the materials are compatible with cement production. Especially when using alternative raw materials. Next to the costs of the materials also their impact on the process efficiency and the sustainability challenging targets (2050 Net Zero) must be considered. For this, chemical and mineralogical composition are crucial.

Our solutions help to minimize scrap and to optimize the mineralogical and chemical compositions of raw materials by providing high frequency analysis of raw material components, specifically when automated. They can do this both at the quarry and in raw mix proportioning. By providing results quickly, these instruments enable producers to reduce waste from sampling and ensure a stable kiln feed for energy efficiency in the remaining process (pre-homogenization and proportioning).

Our solutions

The Cement edition of Zetium

Accurate Elemental XRF analysis for raw material composition and optimal blend for stabilized process
The Cement edition of Zetium

Epsilon 4

Elemental XRF analysis for quick mine feedback and blend with minimum scrap and low cost of ownership
Epsilon 4

Aeris Cement edition

Mineralogical analysis of raw materials by XRD for optimized blend in the cement making process
Aeris Cement edition

CNA Pentos-Cement

Real-time control of raw materials ratio in the mill by activated-neutron Cross-belt Analyzer, for a stable production process – includes moisture measurements
CNA Pentos-Cement

Claisse LeNeo

Reliable fusion instrument to remove variations of raw materials using fused beads for accurate XRF analysis
Claisse LeNeo

Claisse Eagon 2

Two-position fusion instrument to remove variations of raw materials using fused beads for accurate XRF analysis – automated version available
Claisse Eagon 2

WROXI - Certified Reference Materials

Cost-effective solution for element analysis in raw materials, based on Synthetic Certified Reference Materials
WROXI - Certified Reference Materials

Raw mix processing in the kiln

When it comes to raw mix processing, maximizing kiln efficiency is an essential part of reducing energy consumption, emissions, and maintenance requirements. Optimizing the materials that enter the kiln can help achieve this: the two main points of attention are monitoring the correct and stable mix chemistry and getting the proper raw grinding. 

Stable raw meal composition is also essential to ensuring consistent heat profiles in the kiln and delivering a high-quality end product with the right properties such as compressive strength. It also impacts energy consumption, grinding additive use, refractory life, additive consumption, fuel demand and other process factors. As an example, kiln oxidizing conditions are mandatory to avoid the decomposition of Alite C3S to Belite C2S and free lime. This stability can be achieved by controlling the chemical composition using XRF or on-line elemental analysis such as Neutron-Activated Cross-Belt analyzers, or by controlling mineralogy using XRD.

Optimal operating requirements are also to work with fine raw meal (avoid specifically coarse calcite and quartz grains): raw mix particles must be fine enough to ensure that they can mix and be ground well without hard burning. Then laser diffraction for particle size analysis can help ensure this. 

Our solutions

The Cement edition of Zetium

Fast and accurate elemental XRF analysis to ensure correct and stable raw mix chemistry, reducing energy consumption, emissions and maintenance
The Cement edition of Zetium

Epsilon 4

Fast elemental XRF analysis of the raw mix for process control with low cost of ownership
Epsilon 4

Aeris Cement edition

Compact XRD to control of the grinding of the raw mix and ensure top efficiency of the process and high quality of the clinker
Aeris Cement edition

Mastersizer 3000

Ultra-high speed, reliable laser diffraction for particle size distribution analysis of raw meal to ensure proper raw grinding
Mastersizer 3000

Insitec range

Real-time particle size distribution analysis of raw meal by laser diffraction, to ensure proper raw grinding and cost control
Insitec range

WROXI Module

Certified Reference Materials-based solution for the determination of oxides by XRF in a wide range of materials.

WROXI is a synthetic, high-quality Certified Reference Materials (CRM) kit that covers a wide range of oxide materials such as ores, rocks, and geological materials. It has a dual purpose: either for primary fusion glass disk calibration, or to develop secondary pressed powder calibrations.

The beads-based WROXI-CRM base software package consists of 15 Certified Reference Materials, application templates and monitoring samples. Once completed with the WROXI-CRM Cement extension (9 additional CRMs), it becomes an off-the-shelf solution for primary and secondary element analysis in various raw materials, raw meal, clinker and cement samples.

Alternative fuels

Increasingly, alternative fuels in the form of biomass, mixed fuels, or fossil waste with lower emissions factors are replacing resource intensive fossil fuels. By recovering the calorific value of fuel waste, these additive fuels help to reduce emissions from cement production. 

But alternative fuels must be fully characterized for their safety, chemical, thermal, and physical properties to assess their effect on parameters such as flame temperature and heat exchange.

Our elemental analyzers (X-Ray Fluorescence and Cross-Belt CNA), mineralogical X-Ray diffractometers, and automatic fusion sample machines make this easier.

Our solutions

Epsilon 4

Fast and accurate elemental XRF analysis of alternative fuels to prevent illegal emissions and avoid undesired changes in the process
Epsilon 4

Claisse Eagon 2

Two-position fusion instrument to remove variations of alternative fuels using fused beads for accurate XRF analysis – automated version available
Claisse Eagon 2

Aeris Cement edition

Mineralogical analysis of alternative fuels by XRD to prevent illegal emissions and avoid undesired changes in the process
Aeris Cement edition

The Cement edition of Zetium

Fast and accurate elemental XRF analysis of alternative fuels to avoid unwanted elements while reducing CO2 emissions and purchasing
The Cement edition of Zetium

Omnian

Standardless solution for fast and reliable analysis of unknown samples, or sanity check for alternative fuels
Omnian

Pro-Trace

For precise and trace analysis of elements in various alternative fuels
Pro-Trace

Clinker production

Clinker production results from Pyroprocessing: raw meal preheating, calcination clinkerization, clinker cooling, crushing. To achieve the right cement properties, as seen above, the proper calcination conditions have to be controlled, followed by a rapid quench of the clinker.

Attention is then on controlling the proper calcination (free lime), avoiding unwanted elements and maximizing positive mineral phases for the targeted properties of the cement. 

To ensure proper calcination and the right clinker mineralogy, X-Ray diffraction is the best analytical analyzer: it allows to quantify C3S content and type that influences strength development, C3A content and type that impacts fresh properties, and amount of free lime and periclase that should not be higher than targeted limits. Malvern Panalytical’s analytical solutions support this monitoring using the Aeris XRD compact diffractometer. 

Unwanted elements are controlled using X-Ray Fluorescence, in internal recycle streams from fuels or raw mix. Both the Zetium and the Epsilon 4 give the required data to monitor this very efficiently.

Finally, as seen above, in a sustainable approach, manufacturers target not only the high quality of clinker but also want to save energy and resources. Pyro processing of clinker needs calcination at 1450 °C and related energy is usually satisfied by firing coal at calciner and kiln main burner. To save energy and decrease CO2 emissions, waste and biomass are used as alternative fuels more and more. Alternative Raw materials are also used. Dosages of such Alternative Fuels or Alternative Raw Materials require some specific controls to avoid negative effects on the clinker reactivity. Our X-Ray solutions enable you to enjoy the benefits of alternative solutions for clinker production without worries about the impact on quality.

Our solutions

Aeris Cement edition

Compact XRD for mineral phases identification and quantification in the clinker to monitor chemical reactions and detect overburning
Aeris Cement edition

The Cement edition of Zetium

Fast and accurate elemental XRF analysis of the clinker to avoid unwanted elements coming from fuel recycle streams or raw mix - ready for high-throughput
The Cement edition of Zetium

Epsilon 4

Fast elemental XRF analysis of the clinker to avoid unwanted elements coming from fuel recycle streams or raw mix
Epsilon 4

Claisse Eagon 2

Two-position fusion instrument to remove variations of materials using fused beads for accurate XRF analysis – automated version available
Claisse Eagon 2

Claisse LeNeo

Reliable fusion instrument to remove variations of materials using fused beads for accurate XRF analysis
Claisse LeNeo

Cement: composition, grinding and dispatch

Cement is produced by grinding clinker with different active ingredients (SCMs) into a fine powder to achieve the desired properties of cement. The most common additions are gypsum and mixed materials such as fly ash, blast-furnace slag, limestone filler, natural pozzolans and calcinated clays. They are ground to the required fineness and the right proportions to targeted crystalline cement phases. 

To reduce energy consumption, over-grinding must be minimized. The granularity of the finished cement affects its rate of hydration reaction, as well as the amount of water, retardant, and dispersant needed, and is a key factor in determining the strength of the cement. Our particle sizing solutions can help to achieve optimum cement granularity. Thanks to their fast, real-time analysis including in the challenging process environment, they allow producers to react quickly to any anomalies and monitor ambitious accurate targets. In this way, they help enable significant energy savings and optimal short-term and long-term cement strengths. What’s more, they can be quickly and easily installed for minimal disruption.

Monitoring of Sulphate content and mineralogical composition type (linked to dehydration during grinding) are crucial for achieving the right fresh and hardened cement properties. Regarding blended cement, closely controlling composition (including amorphous materials) is required to meet clients’ specifications and CO2 emissions targets. Our X-Ray fluorescence and X-Ray diffraction instruments are of great help for this.

Our solutions

Insitec range

Real-time particle size distribution analysis of the clinker and additions by laser diffraction, to ensure proper raw grinding and cost control
Insitec range

Mastersizer 3000E

Ultra-high speed, reliable laser diffraction instrument for particle size distribution analysis
Mastersizer 3000E

Aeris Cement edition

Compact XRD for mineral phases identification and quantification to control additions to clinker and confirm shipment quality
Aeris Cement edition

The Cement edition of Zetium

Fast and accurate elemental XRF analysis to control additions to clinker and confirm shipment quality
The Cement edition of Zetium

Concrete: confirm the shipment quality – ready for recycling

Concrete is made up of three basic components: water, aggregate (rock, sand, or gravel) and cement. Cement, usually in powder form, acts as a binding agent when mixed with water and aggregates. This combination, or concrete mix, will be poured and will harden into the durable material with which we are all familiar.

Concrete recycling is becoming an increasingly popular way to utilize aggregate left behind when structures or roadways are demolished. In the past, this rubble was disposed of in landfills, but with more attention being paid to environmental concerns, concrete recycling allows reuse of the rubble while also keeping construction costs down.

In both cases, the main attention is that the concrete meets the promised workability, qualities once hardened (resistance to freezing, water tightness, wear resistance, strength), and the price of use (water quantity).

Composition and material sizes are again of great importance. Our laser or X-Ray based instruments provide the required information for a high-quality check of such characteristics.

Our solutions

Epsilon 4

Fast, at-line elemental analysis for process control
Epsilon 4

Mastersizer 3000E

Ultra-high speed, reliable laser diffraction instrument for particle size distribution analysis
Mastersizer 3000E

Aeris Cement edition

Mineralogical probing for all stages of cement production
Aeris Cement edition

Further reading