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Thursday, 17 October 2019
Raw materials & technologies

Fascination concrete

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Markus Roos, Evonik Industries in Germany and Dr. Antonio Esteban, Tolsa in Spain show their passion for concrete. The future is highly interesting from the technical point of view as a lot of functionalities will be finally developed as they stated.

Markus Roos, Evonik Industries in Germany and Dr. Antonio Esteban, Tolsa in Spain are fascinated working with construction chemicals

Markus Roos, Evonik Industries in Germany and Dr. Antonio Esteban, Tolsa in Spain are fascinated working with construction chemicals

European Coatings Journal: What is for you the most fascinating working with/for cement and also concrete from technical point of view?

Dr. Antonio Esteban:

The possibility to introduce new and different functionalities in cements and concrete using special clays. In this regards, natural silicates like sepiolite, attapulgite – palygorskite - and smectites are used in many different application principally due to their sorptive and rheological properties. In case of cement and gypsum, these special clays show workability, sag and sliding control, surface finishing and removal of sedimentation of aggregates.

Nowadays, new additives based on clays like sepiolite are used to introduce functionalities in a cement or concrete. Depending on the particles supported on sepiolite it is possible to obtain functionalities like

  • antimicrobial effects,
  • fire retardancy,
  • wear resistance,
  •  gas barrier or
  • self cleaning and air pollution depletion.

As an example of these, TiO2nanoparticles fixed on the surface of sepiolite has proved to be very effective for degradation of both organic contaminants such as toluene, and inorganic contaminants such as NOx in cement based products like, rendering and monolayer mortars as well as concrete screeds, pavement blocks, or concrete prefabricated boards. 

Markus Roos:

The most fascinating daily work with cementitious buildings material like mortars or concretes for me is how huge the influence of air controlling additives is. Additives like defoamers or air entrainers are dosed far below 0.01 % referred to the cement content by weight. You would never imagine what these high efficiency additives can do with concretes concerning

  • stability,
  • robustness and
  • mechanical strength

of these hard rock type materials. These additives are playing a big role in quality and durability of the cementitious materials.
Concrete plasticizers or super plasticizers are main components of a modern concrete mixing design. They improve the workability of concrete as well as the hardness and strength due to the possibility to use less water. As surface active products, these products tend to generate and stabilize foam in concrete or mortars. To reduce the foam formation to the accepted limit the addition of foam control agents is required. Without any air control by a defoamer, plasticizer wouldn’t be used for concrete application whereas high strength is required. A defoamer will depress the air to an acceptable minimum close to the control.

European Coatings Journal: What are for you the biggest technological developments in the future?

Dr. Antonio Esteban:

In the future, I think the use of nanotechnology in cements and concrete will be one of the most important technological developments because of their huge possibilities. Additives based on nanotechnology could be use to modify the concrete mixture on the nanostructure level to affect its

  • strength,
  • durability,
  • permeability,
  • sustainability,
  • and other properties.

Other important development will be the microencapsultation technologies to obtain self-repairing concrete. In this regards, microencapsulated self-healing polymers could be added to the concrete mixture. When cracks begin to occur in the finished product, the microcapsule breaks, combining the healing agent and catalyst to fill the crack. This is incredibly useful in bridge columns and other infrastructure applications, in the future the improvement of this technology to allow reproducibility of results and competitive cost will create a new range of added value concrete components. 

The use of active surfaces on constructive elements it is also another interesting area that will change our living spaces. The use of natural and activated clay based materials in interior and exterior surfaces can allow the absorption and/or desorption of specific substances that will allow an atmospheric control in order to build healthier ambient. Moreover, the evolution of depollution coatings to indoor applications which use a visible light photo-catalytic reaction to break down pollutants into non-harmful forms will create a new market of improved indoor air quality control coatings.

Finally, many improvements have been done in recent years related to green building construction, the use of waste materials and by-products to reduce the energy consumption in its manufacturing process is nowadays possible, but improvement of its performance related to the operational phase is needed, energy efficiency is a key issue for Europe in coming years.

Markus Roos:  

It is still not easy to say what is the biggest technological step for the future. If you follow the market trends like sustainability, energy savings, environmental friendliness and combine them with high quality and low costs, that will be a challenge for everyone. Hazardous emission coming from building materials are more and more under investigation in Europe. Existing environmental standards like "blue angle label” or Emicode classifications play a big role nowadays in the most of all construction material producers R&D departments In Europe to lower the Volatile Organic Content in their products. After legal requirements in Germany and France, Belgium  is the third country with a national regulation on emissions for construction products in Europe. With the beginning of 2015 it will be not allowed to bring new products for flooring, adhesive or wall coating applications into the market which are not fulfilling the Belgium VOC regulations. These VOC regulations are getting harder and harder. Their impact on the construction industry actually is very high. I expect more and more regulations will show up in the next years. I would see these changes in environmental thinking and acting controlled by official laws more as an opportunity for innovation to be successful with new products.

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