The grinding plant at a cement factory is used to reduce the particle size distribution of various materials such as raw meal, fuel or clinker to set parameters. In a sense, a grinding plant uses energy (through milling) to create fineness and it is the production personnel's aim to optimize the fineness with the production rate whilst consuming as little energy as possible in the process. From an energy-efficiency viewpoint, the grinding process is extremely inefficient; only 5% of the total energy spend is transformed into additional surface area whilst the remaining 95% is lost through heat during the process.
One of the causes of this low efficiency in ball-mills is as result of re-agglomeration of fine particles together with the covering of the surface of the grinding media (balls). During the process, a steady built-up of particles around the media will result in an ever-decreasing mill performance and results in an even lower energy efficient process. Today, energy cost is an important cost factor in the manufacture of cement as 75% of all energy used is used in grinding of raw meal, fuel and clinker. It is therefore top priority for cement manufacturers to be looking at optimizing their mill performance, especially decreasing particle agglomeration. To achieve this, they use organic products: grinding-aids.