Construction company Pan Mixers South Africa (PMSA) and Basalt Technology, which is a part of the PMSA group of companies, have launched a concrete reinforcing product made of crushed and melted basalt rock.
PMSA consists of a group of companies which work together with a common outcome to provide concrete equipment, solutions and technologies to concrete manufacturers and producers.
“Basalt Technology, which joined [the PMSA group] has brought in StoneRod, a trademark product it has started marketing,” says PMSA marketing manager Quintin Booysen.
“StoneRod is a basalt fibre material that serves as an alternative to industry-standard steel and E-glass concrete reinforcement for numerous industrial applications,” he adds.
Booysen mentions that instead of steel, Basalt Technology will be using StoneRod in rebar for concrete work.
He also believes this new technology will help the industry expand, as it provides different parameters to steel.
Being the only company that currently imports basalt into Southern Africa, Booysen says there has already been good response to this technology from the universities where a trial run was undertaken.
“StoneRod has not been used commer- cially in South Africa yet but we have started testing it at the civil engineering departments of two local universities to provide quantitative results from testing the new technology,” he says.
He adds that there has been a positive response from the head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at one of the universities, who says that he and the university has been waiting for a long time for this kind of technology, as the department needs to find new and innovative ways of providing civil engineers with new and innovative technologies for concrete structures.
“Basalt rock is transformed into fibres by taking the rock in its purest form and melting it, before drawing it through dies. The material can then be spun to produce a twisted yarn, or it can be a single filament material,” says Basalt Technology director Gordon Forrester.
He adds that StoneRod is corrosion proof and its tensile strength is 1 200 MPa. It is rust resistant, which means the concrete does not become distressed.
In coastal regions, there is very high corro- sion, which means that conventional reinforce- ment steel bar has to be deeper and requires more cover from the concrete, which has to provide protection for the steel bar so that the salt does not ingress and corrode the steel.
Before the introduction of the StoneRod, E-glass and stainless steel were the two materials used to overcome the problem, but they are costly.
The StoneRod can be pushed closer to the surface and it will not corrode or rust because it is a natural stone and not a metal.
Booysen says StoneRod is also cost-efficient, which he believes will be advantageous for the construction sector.
“We believe that, in future, we will reduce costs by having higher-performance material like the StoneRod and with a much higher tensile strength compared with steel.
“StoneRod is about 80% lighter than steel, which results in lower transport costs, he adds.
As a result of the differences between the steel and StoneRod, PMSA is planning to build a training centre in 2013, where it will host seminars and showcase the StoneRod material and its full complement of concrete equipment.
“We are planning to have lectures for engineers and architects to learn more about PMSA’s full product range and offering, as well as about industry trends.
“With the advent of high-performance concrete, we believe we will be able to create new structures that will bring a new pool of skills into the market, which will hopefully create more jobs,” says Booysen.
Despite the decline in construction work after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, PMSA believes there will be growth moving forward.
“We cannot have drought forever; at some point, it will have to end. The current political instability in South Africa will create economic instability if government is unsure of its focus moving forward,” Booysen adds.
PMSA believes there are opportunities in Africa, which South African countries can pursue for business.
Booysen says there is a growing demand in the developing regions of Africa, which are still rich in minerals and resources. A lot of resources in Africa are allocated for international use and many international countries are looking at South Africa as the hub of the continent.
“If we can show that we are an efficient economy with a stable government, that will also help to create jobs indirectly for South Africans,” he notes.