Currently, water scarcity affects one in three people on every continent on the planet and the outlook is bleak. As the population grows, rapid urbanization, climate change and an unprecedented rise in the demand for food will increase global water stress, as explained in the UN World Water Development Report, “Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk.”1
The Search for Solutions
The issue of water scarcity is gaining attention from global thought leaders. The World Economic Forum has recognized water scarcity as the second most important risk facing the world in the years ahead.2 The World Bank, World Wildlife Fund, the World Economic Forum, corporations, and others have joined forces and created the 2030 Water Resources Group to utilize the collective knowledge of the water community, private sector, NGOs and governments to find sustainable solutions to the water crisis.
According to Jin-Yong Cai, former CEO of the International Finance Corporation, “Economic growth and social well-being depend on a safe and secure water supply. Yet water security is one of the top five global risks most likely to manifest itself over the next ten years. The private sector’s perspectives on water resource management are a critical part of the solution as we consider the way forward. It helps provide innovations, technology, and funding necessary to confront the challenges of water security.”3
Innovation in Water Conservation
Water is the most consumed substance in the world; the second is concrete, which ordinarily contributes to significant further use of water resources. Although the industry does not yet possess comprehensive, global data of its water use, global water withdrawals are rapidly increasing. Beyond accurate tracking of water consumption, the industry needs innovative technologies that can help reduce water consumption, as water scarcity mounts as a looming threat to business survival.
Water scarcity can lead to practical and business risks for a wide range of companies and sectors, including the cement industry, as noted by the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Protocol for Water Reporting.4 Published in 2014, the guide recommends that cement and concrete producers track how water is used, recycled or discarded, and to disclose where and how the water is drawn. CSI addressed the issues industry-wide water consumption anew in Guidance for Good Practices for Water Accounting5, published in May 2016. While an important step, the industry must also have access to innovative practices and technologies that reduce water use in production.
Solidia Technologies® is a sustainable technology company with a patented scientific process that makes it easy and profitable to use CO2 to create better building, construction and industrial products. Solidia Technologies has developed a new class of sustainable cement that reacts with gaseous CO2 rather than with water to form Solidia Concrete. Like their ordinary Portland cement (OPC)-based concrete counterparts, concrete objects made with this sustainable cement require the incorporation of water for shaping and forming only. However, the water used in concrete formulations based on Solidia Cement is not consumed chemically and can be recovered during the CO2-curing process.
Requiring up to 70% less water, Solidia’s process uses a sustainable cement to produce concrete that is stronger, more durable, more flexible and costs less—using the same raw materials and equipment but less water, energy, and time throughout the entire supply chain. Because water is not consumed during the process, it can be collected and reused, with recycle rates approaching 80%. On average, 70 to 80% of the water used in the Solidia Concrete formulation can be recovered during CO2-curing process. The remainder of the water is retained in the concrete and can be recovered if needed.
If Solidia Cement were used instead of OPC, the amount of water consumed during the production of concrete could be reduced by 0.26 to 0.45 billion tons. This corresponds to an annual global water savings approaching two billion tons, or two trillion liters.6
1. “World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP),” United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2012
2. “Davos 2013: Water scarcity is ‘Second Most Important World Risk’,” The Guardian, 24 January 2013
3. “2030 Water Resources Group Home Page,” 2030 Water Resources Group
4. “Protocol for Water Reporting,” Cement Sustainability Initiative, May 2014
5. “Good Practices for Water Accounting,” Cement Sustainability Initiative, May 2016
6. “Addressing Water Scarcity in Cement and Concrete Industries,” Solidia Technologies, 1 August 2016
Online mapping tool: “Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas,” World Resources Institute
“Protocol for Water Reporting,” Cement Sustainability Initiative, May 2014
“Charting Our Water Future: Economic Framework to Inform Decision-Making,” 2030 Water Resources Group, 2009