Hycrete, Inc. is an innovative technology company based in Carlstadt, New Jersey that aspires to "fix the biggest problems associated with concrete and concrete construction."
One of concrete's major flaws is that capillaries and cracks behave like a porous matrix that readily allows the re-entry of water. Water penetration, especially if carrying dissolved salts, leads structural damage, including freeze-thaw degradation, corrosion of embedded steel, and leaking. Hycrete shuts down absorption of water by creating chemical bonds that block the spaces within concrete making them hydrophobic and the concrete itself hydrophobic.
Traditional waterproofing are coatings and membranes are made of rubber, plastic or asphaltic materials. Membrane systems pose several challenges because they are difficult to apply and repair, are time consuming, and more expensive. Indeed, concrete waterproofing is the most litigated aspect of construction due to frequent issues with materials and workmanship.
The Hycrete system allows waterproofing to be done throughout the entire volume of concrete rather than just on the surface layer. Hycrete's "green" advantage comes from replacing tons of non-hard to recycle membrane materials with a relatively small amount of Cradle-to-Cradle environmentally certified concrete admixture.
Hycrete and companies like Hycrete are creating "green" alternatives to traditional products and solutions. These breakthroughs should have tremendous adoption rates and support to prove out their technologies. In reality, adoption of new technology in the construction sector is very slow as corporations and government agencies want to see new technologies in place for years or even decades before taking on a perceived "risk" of adoption. David Rosenberg said "If a patent has a twenty year life and typical rates of adoption in our industry are twenty years, then what does this say about the incentives for companies to invest in bringing innovative technologies to market? This is a serious problem from an industry that needs to embrace change. Today there is a tremendous opportunity as outside investors look at the inefficiencies of our industry as opportunities. However, unless the length of time for adoption shortens and companies like ours win big, then the outside money will stop flowing and investment will decrease and innovation will slow."
The new administration and evolving mindset in this country bring a real opportunity to build for the future by improving transportation efficiency, designing for enhanced lifecycle, decreasing waste, using sustainable materials and creating jobs in the cleantech sector. However, traditional approaches and extreme attitudes toward innovative technologies must become more progressive to truly take advantage of this opportunity.
More than ever, owners, engineers and architects are requiring performance guarantees and faster delivery times on construction projects. As a result, construction companies and concrete contractors often take responsibility for circumstances not entirely in their control -- especially when it comes to concrete.
Concrete is often inconsistent from batch to batch, making placement difficult and creating longer work cycles caused by increased set times. And if concrete fails to make strength or finishes poorly, contractors may need to rip out and replace the material—further delaying the project and increasing costs. With razor thin margins, non-performing concrete can put concrete contractors and construction companies in a difficult and somewhat unpredictable economic situation.
To stay competitive and profitable, construction companies and contractors need to work with concrete that is consistent batch after batch, arrives on time, is easy to place and finish, and meets the desired performance requirements.