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BASF introduces Smart Dynamic Concrete concept in China

A revolutionary technology that provides economical and ecological benefits to the construction industry

Shanghai, September 17, 2009 BASFs Construction Chemicals business in China has today launched the concept of Smart Dynamic Concrete (SDC), a new generation of highly flowable concrete which allows the construction industry to achieve faster and reliable concrete placement, higher concrete durability and improved energy efficiency during the placement

process. According to the China Concrete Association, the consumption of ready mixed concrete (RMC) exceeded 690 million cubic meters in 2008. This volume is expected to top 800 million cubic meters in 2009, as construction activity continues expanding and further conversion of site mixing to RMC occurs. We are proud to facilitate the birth of the new SDC technology in China, which we expect will move the concrete construction industry to the next level of technological capability, said Mark Volmer, Group Vice President, responsible for BASFs Construction Chemicals business in Asia Pacific. Developed by our international team of scientists, the concept demonstrates how BASFs concrete admixture innovations are able to support and advance the theme of sustainable construction. The SDC concept consists of a robust concrete mix design with less than 380 kg/m3 of total fines, a tailor-made GLENIUM superplasticizer and

RheoMATRIXTM, a BASF-exclusive, state-of-the-art Viscosity Modifying Agent (VMA), as the key element of this revolutionary concept. Due to the unique characteristics of the RheoMATRIXTM molecules, concrete mix-designs can now be optimized to achieve unmatched performance levels and offer benefits to multiple stakeholders in the construction value chain. For contractors, SDC means faster placement process and reliable filling of reinforcement congested structure, hence lower costs, and a safer working environment because no vibration is needed. For owners, SDC results in buildings made with more durable concrete, subsequently longer life spans. For architects and designers, SDC allows them to design more complex shapes and get assurance that the designed concrete is really in the structure. For Ready Mix Concrete producers, SDC gives them the opportunity to provide value added concrete for their highest volume strength class (C30). SDC has many of the same values as conventional Self Consolidating Concrete, but it is more economical because it is specially designed for the 30 MPa strength class of concrete, which represents approximately 80% of the RMC market in China, explained Dr. Bruce Christensen, Director of Technical, Marketing and Communications, BASFs Construction Chemicals business Asia Pacific. By combining the stability advantages of traditional vibrated concrete with the fluidity characteristics of conventional high fines Self Consolidating Concrete, SDC is a smart technology to simplify the production and expand the application of highly fluid concrete into everyday concrete. Christensen added

Smart concrete saves money


Ben Millington finds out that advances in concrete technology are gaining recognition among developers and contractors, offering many distinct advantages over traditional methods. If you've ever seen construction workers pouring concrete, it appears to the outsider like quite a hurried and chaotic affair. Dozens of men scurry around poking, pushing, leveling and smoothing the goopy mixture into the bulging formwork - it does not seem like a precise science. But there is a better way. The general manager of Bahrain Building Chemicals, Carl Pearse, says "smart dynamic concrete" is the state-of-the-art in concrete technology and will eliminate many problems associated with traditional methods. Smart dynamic concrete uses a chemical admixture based on polycarboxylates - a superplasticiser recognised for its strength, water-reducing qualities and its slump retention extending the workable time after the cement admixture is mixed. Pearse says the polycarboxylate add-mixture can be engineered to achieve very specific results and has several distinct advantages for developers and contractors. "It allows you to do huge pours," he said. "The pumpability we've got allows you to pump up these new 1km high buildings or deep basements with a continuous pour with no extra compaction required. Self-compacting "This saves construction time and means there is less labour because you only need a driver and one pump man. You don't need an army of workers in flip flops with vibrating pokers because it is self-compacting." The result of having less labour also means there is less chance of human error. Pearse says this is especially important for the Gulf region where labourers are often not given enough training on concrete compaction methods. "Concrete that isn't compacted properly, which happens quite often, will result in honeycombing, a poor finish and excessive bleeding," he said. "There could also be hidden internal problems where there are voids inside the structure that you can't see." "It also affects the finish of the concrete, if you have a higher grade of concrete, you get a much tighter smooth, blemish free surface." Using a polycarboxylate mixture will eliminate these issues because it self-compacts into dense concrete without segregation. In the long run this delays the onset of corrosion and extends the lifetime of the structure. Self-compaction also means it is easier to achieve slender shapes and curves so designers can be more daring structurally. And it is also easier to handle and will create a stronger structure says Pearse.

"The Burj al Arab in Dubai used a smart dynamic concrete, BASF's Glenium 504 sky product," he said. "They pumped it all the way to the top with no segregation and that was a Glenium product without further modification. "It shows you how far you can go before you even start tweaking the product." But there are some downsides - there is less tolerance for error when creating the mixture because it uses more powerful chemicals; the yield is smaller - the denser the concrete, the more concrete being used per meter cubed; it needs high quality formwork; and it's more expensive than a standard add-mixture. Pearse says these issues are holding smart dynamic concrete back from mainstream popularity in the Gulf. He says the vast majority of the construction industry uses midrange water reducing admixtures. "This is the bread and butter - workable concrete that keeps its workability in the hot weather and goes off when you want it to go off and achieves the strength that you want it to achieve," he said. "Many contractors are keen to support presentations on the high-tech stuff, but if they are making good money knocking out good standard concrete and have no motivation to use it, then the drive must come from the developers." Pearse says he expects the market for smart dynamic concrete to grow considerably in the future as developers, consultants and end users start to realise that the initial expense is outweighed in the long run. "If they look at the total cost they will see that they are saving money," he said. "That means taking into account the effects of the energy used to produce the end product; labour costs including applying for visas and accident rates; the finish and dealing with defects; the fact that cheap formwork is thrown away more often and the fact that denser concrete is cheaper for cooling and heating." But lower costs really are a secondary issue - the main benefit is that you eliminate all of the associated problems you get with traditional concrete. "You see how high buildings are going now and that means a very deep foundation and basements subject to water pressure - you need all these extras, you need corrosion inhibitors that work and water proofers that work. The bar has been raised." Bahrain Building Chemicals are a subsidiary of international construction chemicals giant BASF and supply a variety of products including add mixtures for concrete, water sealants and bonding agents.