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Sustainability through Concrete

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Concrete is the most used man-made material in the world than the total of all other building materials, including wood, steel, plastic and aluminum. Its superior properties on strength, durability, thermal mass and affordability make it the material of choice for most purposes. Speaking to Buildotech, Anil Banchhor, Chief Executive, Concrete Business, ACC Limited briefs on Company’s value based, innovative and sustainable concrete products.

Cement forms the most important ingredient of concrete but, poses several sustainability issues. Cement production emits CO2 and the quarrying of raw materials produces noise and dust. ACC is well aware of these impacts and addresses them individually in its manufacturing of cement and concrete as well as collectively with other organizations. We use fly ash in our products to reduce the content of OPC (ordinary Portland cement) and make it more environment friendly. In case of normal concrete about 35% of OPC is replaced by fly ash. This also adds durability to the concrete and needs lower maintenance.

In fact, in India most of ready mix concrete for construction industry has fly ash between 20 to 30% of the cementitious material, by using Canadian technology, we have introduced high volume fly ash concrete (HFC) called Ecocrete that replaces OPC by 50%. It is an environmentfriendly, high performance, durable concrete, designed to build sustainable structures.

By using fly-ash in our products, we are not only minimizing the use of cement in concrete but also reducing CO2 emissions, as per ton of OPC contributes to one ton of CO2. Furthermore, the embodied energy of the concrete is decreased by reducing production and transportation footprint of cement.

Likewise, in the manufacture of Ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS), waste from steel factories is used to replace cement by about 70%. It is beneficial in harbor constructions, underground structures, civil water conservancies, roads, bridges, and high-rise buildings due to higher resistance to sulphate and reduced chloride-ion penetration.

Another product Thermocrete is designed to provide thermal comfort in the buildings. A layer of the product is usually applied over the top layer of the roof slab to prevent external heat or cold from penetrating into the building. It reduces energy consumption required to keep rooms at comfortable temperature.

Innovations

With concrete manufacturing getting computerized world over, ACC needs to create a point of differentiation. Our value added products bring innovations in this segment for Indian construction industry. For instance the newest Self-compacting concrete Flowcrete, does not need vibrator equipment at site. It is a flowing concrete mixture that consolidates under its own weight making it suitable for placing in narrow corners and sections with congested reinforcement. Its advantages include reduced manpower elimination of vibrator noise and any honeycombs due to uneven compacting of concrete. In addition, the self-levelling, high strength concrete – Jet Setcrete is a concrete solution that is designed to gain ultra-high strength within few hours and with self-levelling features suitable for faster construction demand to achieve project completion within a short period of time. In addition.

High density concrete is another innovative product that is primarily used in radiation shielding, either in nuclear power plants or in radiation therapy units like X-ray or CT-Scan. Likewise, in traditional concrete, the typical hydration reaction has always been the source of cracking, weakness, slab curl and other common problems. ACC specialized product Cool-Crete alters the chemistry, eliminating the first-phase heat of hydration and its harmful effects. The result is a significantly less porous concrete that shrinks less while drying and is denser when fully cured. It’s resistant to slab curl and micro cracks.

Permacrete, a truly eco-friendly and high performance concrete permits seepage of water through itself thus improving ground water table and avoiding water logging. It enables more efficient land developments by allowing built surfaces like car parks, pathways etc. to retain water and slowly discharge in soil.

The Ready to use mortar (RTUM) made from cross rock fine (CRF) does not use river sand, banned by many states. This also means no carbon footprint of sand transportation or wastage. The high performance mortar gives even finish on which one can directly apply putty and paint. Another similar product for plastering is Ecoplast for plastering. The thin bed jointing mortar is only 3mm thick and replaces conventional 9-10mm thick mortar for block work.

 

Sustainability in manufacturing

Reduce, recycle and reuse are the mantras strictly followed in Company’s manufacturing plants. The recycling plants at the manufacturing sites recycle any material that comes back from client site. The coarse & fine aggregate is separated & reused, bringing down the cost for procuring fresh aggregate as well as the disposal hazard and cost. We utilize the waste concrete and our test samples of wet concrete by pouring the same in silicon molds and fabricating paver blocks.

Also, water use needs to be carefully looked at. For higher efficiency, water from recycle plant that is a mix of cement and ash and is considered greywater, is used. Consequently, flyash content is reused, fresh water use is reduced and the waste water is recycle rather than discharging in drains, polluting the environment.

The company actively promotes the use of alternative fuels and raw materials and offers total solutions for waste management including testing, suggestions for reuse, recycling and co-processing. We are aiming to have non pollution, zero waste manufacturing plants by using advanced technology and equipment like bi-filters and special pumps etc.

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