The pursuit of sustainable alternatives to replace Clinker with Supplementary Cementitious Materials

In 2004, Prof Karen Scrivener from EPFL in Switzerland and Prof Fernando Martirena from UCLV in Cuba discussed for the first time about the use of calcined clays for pozzolans.

A year after in 2005, Scrivener and Martirena launched together the first research project on this topic supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation (SDC). This project lasted from 2005 to 2008.

In 2009, a second SNSF- and SDC-supported project on material research started focusing on ternary blend cement with calcined clay and limestone. During this project from 2009 until 2012 the enormous global potentials of Limestone Calcined Clay were fully detected.

In 2013, the year after, the SDC financed a preliminary short phase for EPFL to form a global project on Limestone Calcined Clay Cement. In addition to Fernando Martirena's lab in Cuba, the second focus region was decided to be India due to its significantly growing numbers for construction materials.

In 2014, the first three-year phase of the LC3-project began with EPFL as the head of the project and with the regional experts at UCLV in Cuba and in India at TARA, IIT Delhi and IIT Madras. This first phase was supported by the SDC and the main goal was the technical verification of the LC3-technology. It involved the financing of numerous PhD-positions within the LC3-Project's institutions but also included to grow an academic network for the research on LC3-cements. In result, it could be proven that LC3 achieves OPC - CEM I quality and suitable for a global rollout.

From 2017 until 2020, the SDC financed another three-year phase with the same team of academic partners in Switzerland, Cuba and India. Within this phase, the LC3-Project mainly worked on verifying the economic attractiveness of the material and increasing the awareness in industrial and policy circles. Several LC3-applications were built in different parts of the world that are exposed to different environmental conditions. In the course of the phase academic, industrial and policy circles widely acknowledged LC3 as one of the technologies with the highest potential to lower CO2-emissions in the cement sector. Also, the first permanent large-scale production of LC3 started within the second project phase in Colombia.

Since September 2020 the LC3-Project is supported for another two years by the SDC to scale the technology globally. Several new LC3-productions are on the way. The project has received high attention for example by Bloomberg and TED-talks.