According to market experts, China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of cement and concrete. However, due to high energy consumption as well as a strong call for environmentally-friendly products and carbon dioxide reduction, the huge cement and concrete industry is also facing several challenges. Specifically, that cement and concrete products should become more durable and corrosion resistant.
To help address these challenges, the WACKER Group has opened a new competence center for cement and concrete applications in Shanghai, China, where researchers are working to develop novel silicone-based products and solutions that are able to improve the performance of cement and concrete and make these materials more sustainable. Special focus is on silicone admixtures and performance enhancers.
Thanks to their unique properties, silicones are widely used for the protection of construction materials. Water repellent, vapor permeable and resistant to chemicals and UV radiation, they are available as solid powders, solvent-free liquids or water-based emulsions. Applications include waterproofing of inorganic insulation materials, protective coatings, damp proofing, pH adjusters for coatings and waterproofing agents for concrete.
“WACKER’s new R&D lab in Shanghai will support our customers to cope with these challenges and to seize the market opportunities which have opened up,” says Paul Lindblad, president of WACKER Greater China. “As a regional innovation platform focusing on cement and concrete, the new lab will cooperate with leading Chinese universities, research institutions and the industry. Its goal is to develop innovative products and solutions, which support the sustainable development of the Chinese construction materials industry.”
In the new laboratory, WACKER will be able to investigate how silicone chemistry can effectively protect cement and concrete against environmental influences and, at the same time, improve the durability of these materials. For example, waterproofing technologies for cement and concrete are a hot topic in both academia and industry.
Existing surface treatments with silicones are well known and established. They are capable of protecting the concrete surface from alkali-silica reaction, efflorescence, graffiti and corrosion. However, the surface treatment also has its limitations.
“One of the goals of our lab is to develop silicone products that improve hydrophobicity, durability and other unresolved problems in cement and concrete,” says Dr. Peter Jerschow, Head of Global Product Development for the Business Unit Construction Silicones at WACKER SILICONES.
He further notes that silicones are capable of making cement hydrophobic. In fact, several thousand tons of cement have already been made using one of the products developed by the competence center for cement and concrete at WACKER’s subsidiary in India
“As WACKER’s first competence center, which will deal exclusively with silicone-based cement and concrete admixtures, the new lab will leverage our worldwide technological expertise and resources to serve China’s growing cement and concrete industry,” adds Jerschow.