Multinational silicon products developer and manufacturer WACKER Group has opened a new competence centre for cement and concrete applications in Shanghai, China.
The laboratory will develop novel silicone-based products and solutions, which are able to improve the performance of cement and concrete and to make these materials more sustainable.
A special focus is placed on silicone admixtures and performance enhancers.
“WACKER’s new research and development lab in Shanghai will support our customers to cope with these challenges and to seize the market opportunities which have opened up,” says WACKER Greater China president Paul Lindblad.
As a regional innovation platform focusing on cement and concrete, the new lab will cooperate with leading Chinese universities, research institutions and the industry.
He adds that the goal is to develop innovative products and solutions, which supports the sustainable development of the Chinese construction materials industry.
According to market experts, China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of cement and concrete. Owing to high energy consumption as well as a strong call for environment-friendly products and carbon dioxide reduction, however, the huge cement and concrete industry is also facing a number of challenges. For example, cement and concrete products should become more durable and corrosion resistant.
At its new competence centre in Shanghai, 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 relevant topic in both academia and industry.
Existing surface treatments with silicones are well-known and established. For example, they are capable of protecting the concrete surface from alkali-silica reaction, efflorescence, graffiti and corrosion. The surface treatment, however, 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. For example, silicones are capable of making cement hydrophobic.
“Already several thousand tons of cement have been made using one of our products developed by the competence centre for cement and concrete at WACKER’s subsidiary in India,” says WACKER Silicones construction silicones business unit global product development head Dr Peter Jerschow.
He states that, as WACKER’s first competence centre which will deal exclusively with silicone-based cement and concrete admixtures, the new lab will leverage the company’s global technological expertise and resources to serve China’s growing cement and concrete industry.
Thanks to their unique properties, silicones are widely used for the protection of construction materials. Water repellent, vapour permeable and resistant to chemicals and ultraviolet 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.