Stronger, faster, greener constructions chemicals from BASF

Stronger, faster, greener construction chemicals from BASF

6:53 AM, 16th November 2016
Himanshu Kapadia, Vice President, Market Management, Construction Chemicals, Asia Pacific, BASF.
Himanshu Kapadia, Vice President, Market Management, Construction Chemicals, Asia Pacific, BASF.

In an interview Himanshu Kapadia, Vice President, Market Management, Construction Chemicals, Asia Pacific, BASF with Chemical Today magazine delves into the ways in which new age construction chemicals are paving way for sturdier constructions which are not just cost effective but environment friendly too.

By Debarati Das

Overview of the global construction chemicals industry.

Construction and the construction chemicals industry go hand in hand. This is more or less true for mature markets like the US, Europe, Japan and Australia where construction chemicals have penetrated very well almost two decades ago. In these mature markets the growth of the construction chemicals industry is in sync with the growth of the construction industry however this growth also largely depends on the economic condition. On the other hand, in emerging markets like India, ASEAN and China, where penetration of construction chemicals is not completely in the construction sector, we are less dependent on the growth of the construction industry. Hence, even if the construction industry doesn’t grow in these regions, the construction chemicals industry keeps on growing.

Latest technological development in the sector.

Cement Additives – The core of construction industry is cement but cement production is not very environment-friendly. Cement is produced from pulverised clinker and when clinker is produced from limestone, a tonne of clinker produces an equal amount of tonne of carbon dioxide. This is an issue that the cement industry is battling with and manufacturers are constantly trying to produce cement with as less clinker as possible. There are efforts to replace clinker with other supplementary materials like Fly Ash, Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag (GGBFS) etc.

However, the process to reduce the amount of clinker and increase the amount of the supplement requires certain additives to make it work. At BASF, we produce performance enhancing cement additives, which allow customers to increase the level of supplementary cementing material that are more environmental friendly.

However, when the amount of supplementary cementing material is increased, the grinding efforts require much more power. So the next challenge is to reduce the power consumption during grinding. Our products are a combination of performance and grinding aids, which increases the performance of cement.

Concrete admixtures:

The cement is mainly used in concrete and the major challenges in concrete production are:

1. Lack of good quality of locally available raw material.

2. Non-availability of qualified labourers with the knowledge of concrete practices.

3. Increasing demand for concrete with higher performance.

Construction chemicals industry has to come up with solutions to these problems. We recently launched our new product, MasterEase, which allows the use of locally available average quality aggregates and sand, for making high-quality concrete with very low viscosity. It also makes the pumping and placing of the concrete easier. This is a revolutionary technology that greatly supports high-rise building construction, which requires mass pouring for foundations and pumping of concrete to ever increasing heights.

Today, the basic demand is faster construction at lower cost. For instance, in low cost housings, builders don’t really think of modern materials. But modern materials can actually help reduce the cost. Our Smart Dynamic Concrete (SDC) technology allows the concrete to flow under its own weight, making construction faster while reducing cost.

The other major problem of concrete is its shrinkage. Our product, MasterGlenium in conjunction with MasterLife systems when added to concrete can reduce shrinkage, avoid cracks, evade the absorption of gases like carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or water and thereby increases the life of concrete. MasterGlenium, a technology which BASF pioneered, has taken the concrete durability to a new height ever since it was introduced in Japan in 1991.

Waterproofing & Sealing products:

Nowadays, most builders look for products which can last longer without the need for frequent repair and renovation. Our waterproofing solution based on spray-applied polyurethane membrane, MasterSealM800, lasts for decades together, is faster to implement and needs less labour for the job. It is considered the best technology available globally.

Grouting compounds:

Wind energy is becoming more and more prevalent and the trend is to have windmills offshore. This requires grout with very high strength, which can withstand higher temperature and transfer loads from the wind turbines to its foundation. Our MasterFlow series cater to these requirements.

Performance flooring:

Industrial flooring is also an important industry where at times concrete cannot withstand very high temperature or mechanical abrasion.

Our Ucrete flooring systems has the strength of resin chemistry of polyurethane and the properties of concrete that gives floors exceptional resistance to aggressive chemicals, extreme mechanical and thermal shock, providing long-term, durable flooring solutions. It is the first of its kind and has a proven track record for almost 50 years.

Market drivers supporting demand for construction chemicals.

In this industry, the biggest push is towards productivity. Everybody wants to construct faster and with higher efficiency. The other factor is the need for products with environmental benefits. For this, we constantly try to come up with products which will allow the construction industry achieve these goals.

The key drives would include:

1) The overall growth of construction driving the chemical demand.

2) The growing demand for high performance materials

3) Addressing the constraints of resources like labour and locally available materials.

4) Need for faster and safer construction

5) Repair and renovation of old constructions. Concrete structures, which are three to four decades old are now deteriorating.

Sectors with growth potential in emerging markets.

South Asia is the fastest growing region today - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka are all good growth segments. The GDP growth of these countries is between 5 to 7percent- the growth of the construction industry is slightly higher than the GDP while the construction chemicals industry is even higher than that because of the continuously increasing penetration rate.

Construction chemical technology is now widely being used for construction purposes because the natural resources are not available in these regions. Hence in these regions, the construction chemicals’ growth rate is higher than the construction industry’s growth. ASEAN is also another good area of growth with, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia growing at a fast pace. After China and India, Indonesia is the most populated country in Asia and is in great need of infrastructure development. Myanmar is now opening up to the world and projecting a promising growth.

The Chinese industry will see a constant growth. Even in situations of slowdown, Chinese construction industry growth is still slated to be 5 to 6 percent. On the other hand, matured markets of Japan and Australia will not witness similar growth. In Japan, the infrastructure is already very well built, the populations is not increasing but instead shrinking.

Hence the demand for new construction is not as much. However, aging infrastructures will continue to require repair and retrofitting solutions. Australia is affected by the fall of commodity demand. Although being the biggest mining country for coal and metal, the demand of these natural resources is going down. Hence, the growth prospect of Australia is also low at this moment.

Challenges faced by chemical manufacturers.

By and large, construction chemical manufacturers are happy at this moment due to the overall growth in the construction industry. However, the speed of introducing path-breaking innovation for new products has come down lately. Also, introduction of new technologies is a slow process due to conservative nature of construction industry.

The other challenge revolves around the rise of green building. Although the industry would like to embrace environmental friendly technologies quickly, reluctance continues to accept it at higher costs. Hence, it is on companies like ours to educate the industry about the new innovations, holistic ecological concept and calculate the overall benefit.

Construction chemicals business of BASF in Asia Pacific.

We are considered the pioneers in the construction chemical industry. Our products are available in more than 20 countries and we have our manufacturing footprint in over 14 countries. We operate multiple manufacturing plants around Asia Pacific and we have a unique distinction compared to other construction chemical companies in terms that we also have access to raw material technologies.

BASF is a large integrated chemical company. So when it comes to construction chemicals, we not only make the formulated product for the construction industry but we also have the backward integration for raw materials. As such, we are in a better position to meet the challenges faced by the industry and our customers.

Focus on R&D and innovation.

Today, the basic need of the market are - concrete which can be pumped to higher stories without much effort, concrete that can be made with locally available material and need of less labour involvement in making good concrete. We have encompassed all these requirements into one single technology called MasterEase, which is a high performance, low viscosity concrete.

Our waterproofing system, polyutherene spay-applied membrane MasterSealM800, is also an example of innovation excellence, and is now widely being used in buildings and other infrastructural projects due to its durability and effectiveness.

Environment-friendly construction chemicals.

At BASF, we look at sustainability for construction industry in two aspects:

1) The direct environmental impact via materials like making Green Sense ConcreteTM, using eco-efficiency tools, educating the market on ecological impact, using materials which are free of formaldehyde. For this, we focus on making chemicals which make cement manufacturing process more environment-friendly.

2) Improving the construction process, which will thereby reduce the environmental impact. We focus on technologies, which lasts much longer, are very durable and do not require frequent repair or refurbishing and hence reduce the overall environmental impact.

© Chemical Today Magazine


See the Interview Coverage in Chemical Today magazine (Pg 16)

View the interview on Mobile, download the Chemical Today magazine app 



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