Cement is an energy-intensive industry in which the grinding circuits use more than 60 % of the total electrical energy consumed and account for most of the manufacturing cost. The requirements for the cement industry in the future are to reduce the use of energy in grinding and the emission of CO2 from the kilns. In recent years, the production of composite cements has been increasing for reasons concerned with process economics, energy reduction, ecology (mostly reduction of CO2 emission), conservation of resources and product quality/diversity. The most important properties of cement, such as strength and workability, are affected by its specific surface and by the fineness and width of the particle-size distribution. These can be modified to some extent by the equipment used in the grinding circuit, including its configuration and control.
Multi-compartment ball mills and air separators have been the main process equipments in clinker grinding circuits in the last 100 years. They are used in grinding of cement raw materials (raw meal) (i.e. limestone, clay, iron ore), cement clinker and cement additive materials (i.e. limestone, slag, pozzolan) and coal. Multi-compartment ball mills are relatively inefficient at size reduction and have high specific energy consumption (kWh/t). Typical specific energy consumption is 30 kWh/t in grinding of cement. Barmac-type crushers found application as a pre-grinder in cement grinding circuits operating with ball mills to reduce the specific energy consumption of ball mill-grinding stage. An overview of technical innovations to reduce the power consumption in cement plants was given by Fujimoto.
Vertical roller mills have a lower specific energy consumption than tumbling mills and require less space per unit and capacity at lower investment costs. Vertical roller mills are developed to work as air-swept grinding mills. Roller mills are operated with throughput capacities of more than 300 t/h of cement raw mix.