Growing at 15 per cent per annum, the Indian construction chemicals industry was expected to touch Rs 7,000 crore this year, according to FICCI and the Tata Strategic Management Group.
What's driving growth?
'We have seen strong growth in concrete admixtures (sodium napthalene sulfonate formaldehyde condensate, SNF, and polycarboxylate ether, PCE) and waterproofing-related chemicals, especially demand for quality products, as a result of the government's focus on infrastructure, low-cost housing and development,' says Preetham Yeada, Associate Vice President, Commercial & Corporate Strategy, MYK Schomburg.
Meanwhile, Hasan Rizvi, Senior Vice President, STP, says, 'We are seeing the clearance of infrastructure projects (road, port, freight corridor, etc) that were held up; this is a driver for construction chemicals, but the government lacks focus on real-estate development.'
With the focus on infrastructure and affordable housing intensifying, this upswing is expected to sustain as is the dampening effect of the lull in real estate.
'We foresee strong growth in the admixtures business because of the big push for infrastructure, especially roads, railways and urban infrastructure, while liquid-applied waterproofing systems and 100 per cent solid polyurea will find growth in the waterproofing segment,' says M Vivekanandan, Managing Director, Flowcrete India. 'As waterproofing is integral to all sorts of infrastructure, including residential, commercial, hospitality and retail real estate, the market has witnessed rapid growth in the past few years.'
'Given the Budget's focus on affordable housing and infrastructure such as metros and tunnels, we expect to see greater volumes of sales of polymer cementitious coatings, the preferred product of affordable developers, and preformed membranes and polyurethane coatings for infrastructure,' says Sanjay Bahadur, Group CEO, Construction Chemical Business, Pidilite Industries. 'Real estate continues to be down and we expect this trend to continue.'
'Repair and maintenance applications for high-rise buildings in the coastal belt and infrastructure projects like tunnels and dam repairs also provide potential opportunities,' says Vivekanandan.
Additionally, the extensive use of glass and the building of podium constructions, basements and tall buildings present construction challenges, wherein high-quality performing construction chemicals play an important role in ensuring desired results, says Yeada.
Developers of affordable housing are consumers of waterproofing and thermal insulation chemicals and products that add value to their project and facilitate low maintenance, observes Masood Abbas, CEO, Technonicol India.
Which might these be?
'Speciality sealants and liquid-applied waterproofing membranes are in great demand with developers of affordable housing,' responds Vivekanandan.
'Low-end, cost-effective systems like cementitious coatings are in demand from affordable housing developers; we offer ShaliCrete,' says Rizvi. Essentially, to contain costs, 'affordable housing developers tend to prefer polymer cementitious coatings over polyurethane products, as the latter are two to three times more expensive, though they offer better protection,' notes Bahadur.
'Affordable housing developers want solutions that fulfil consumer demands for environment-friendly, energy-efficient, robust and aesthetic homes while maintaining affordability, efficiency and durability,' says Basab Saha, Deputy General Manager-Marketing, Dow Building & Construction. 'They want construction cycles to speed up.
We are witnessing a notable shift of preference towards fast-dry coatings, admixtures, flooring chemicals and waterproofing compounds.'
'Affordable housing places high demand on technology and materials to reduce the cost and increase the speed of construction without compromising on durability and sustainability,' notes Nilotpol Kar, Business Director, Construction Chemicals, BASF India. To this end, Kar says, 'BASF offers smart dynamic concrete featuring two admixtures - MasterGlenium superplasticiser and MasterMatrix viscosity modifying agent - that increase concrete flowability and ease pumping to speed up placing by 40 per cent and lower cementitious content to cut the cost.'
In Bengaluru, the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board has deployed smart dynamic concrete to cut the construction time for a building of three floors from about 35 days to 20 days. Some 500 low-cost flats were built in 10 months' time, eight months ahead of schedule.
Road construction companies use solutions that will increase the life of the road and lower maintenance cost, says Abbas. These include concrete admixtures (both SNF and PCE-based) and, additionally, sealants, curing compounds and a few repair products, as per Yeada.
Within admixtures, road construction companies look for products that are economically viable, typically polycarboxylate ether-based, and those offering good workability over a prolonged period of time, says Vivekanandan. 'They also use sealants, curing compounds and shutter release oil.'
According to Kar, 'High-performance admixtures based on the latest polymer technology are required for high-strength and versatile concrete mixes for concrete bridges, highways, railroad tracks, tunnels and underpasses.' BASF concrete admixtures MasterGlenium and MasterEase (reduces the plastic viscosity by up to 30 per cent) can optimise durability and ease placement during the construction of bridges and tunnels.
'To enhance driver safety, we are seeing a growing interest from road construction companies in striping systems that produce a bright, reflective line while leaving a smaller environmental footprint,' says Saha.
STP offers ShaliSeal RSTC, a coal tar sealer resistant to UV, fuel and water, for the preventive maintenance of roads, ShaliPatch EC for repairing cracks in rigid pavements, and ShaliSeal CSS-A for coloured cycle tracks.
At Marathon Realty, the aim is to create structures that last at least 75 years without major repairs.
To achieve this, the company uses durable, resilient concrete made of ground granulated blast furnace slag, fly-ash and polycarboxylate, a third-generation admixture preferred for 'significantly making the concrete more non-porous compared to second-generation admixtures such as polysulphonates,' explains Urvesh Mehta, Senior Vice President-Projects, Marathon Group.
'At the construction stage, we use bonding agents, plasticisers, retarders, accelerators, binding agents and curing agents,' says Rahul Singla, Director, Mapsko Group. 'Additionally, surface treatment involves the use of a hardener.'
Landscaped podiums have become popular to create a great ambience and offer unrestricted wind flow. However, planting trees on the podium necessitates construction chemicals. 'For podiums, we prefer anti-root waterproofing compounds for protecting both, the reinforced concrete from water and the growing root,' says Mehta.
'To waterproof podiums, which are a feature of many of our residential constructions, we use polyester primers, polysulfide sealants, bitumen products and polyester membranes,' says Singla. What do vendors suggest?
'A hybrid solution combining a polyurethane product with a poly urea-based coating would typically work well for landscaped podiums requiring strong waterproofing,' suggests Bahadur.
MYK Schomburg offers poly urea (MYK Gepotech) and polyurethane coatings (MYK Coat WPU 1K) for podiums.
Glass façade allow daylight to penetrate, ensuring better human performance and energy-efficiency. Their downside is that they create heat islands. To minimise this, Marathon Realty uses glass with good thermal qualities, structurally connected to an aluminium frame. Structural silicone adhesive plays a key role in ensuring this connection is fast and safe and that the entire assembly performs optimally, as per Mehta.
'The extensive use of glass has been facilitated by high-end sealants,' agrees Vivekanandan.
Given the need to make buildings constructed with composite materials such as steel and glass safer, especially in the event of fire and evacuation, construction chemicals should be chosen for their inflammable and non-toxic properties, advises Kar.
The challenge in underground parking spaces is that the reinforced concrete continuously comes in contact with water and, hence, is susceptible to leakages and deterioration. According to Mehta, 'A leak-proof basement necessitates the use of fly-ash, GGBS, and polycarboxylate and crystalline waterproofing compounds that plug voids as soon as they come in contact with water.'
In basements, liquid-applied membranes and spray-applied poly urea waterproofing solutions are durable and fast to apply, notes Vivekanandan.
MYK Schomburg offers HDPE membranes (MYK Power Prufe 800) for basements.
BASF waterproofing products for underground construction such as basements, tunnels and metro stations (such as for the Delhi Metro projects) include MasterRoc sprayed concrete and MasterSeal sprayable bonded waterproofing membranes, both of which are tailor-made to ensure safe and economical operations.
The MasterSeal range includes 7000 CR, which in particular is effective for wastewater pre-treatment and aeration tanks, digesters or sewers, to protect concrete from abrasion and biogenic sulfuric acid corrosion. MasterSeal spray-applied polyurethane-hybrid membrane can be quickly sprayed on large industrial surfaces of new or repaired or rehabilitated buildings.
Protecting against corrosion
Corrosion preventative measures start before construction with the coating of steel with zinc-based chemicals, according to Yeada. 'During construction, corrosion-inhibiting admixtures can play a role and, afterwards, the concrete should be coated with anti-carbonation chemicals.'
Admixtures help produce high-grade concrete, which is essential to protect sea-facing buildings from corrosion, the inevitable cracking of concrete. 'Marathon Realty uses micro-silica with third-generation admixtures to make concrete dense, reduce thermal cracking and improve durability to attacks by sulphate and acidic water,' says Mehta.
BASF offers the MasterLife
CI 220 and MasterBrace admixtures that prevent or slow the ingress of chlorides and moisture into the concrete by protecting the reinforcing steel. The MasterProtect range includes surface-applied coatings for concrete as well as rebars.
To prevent the corrosion (rusting) of reinforcement bars in concrete, STP offers ShaliPlast LW++, an amine-based bipolar migratory corrosion inhibitor.
'Dow India has leveraged the anti-corrosion properties of water-borne coatings and silicone or acrylic resins through offerings like PRIMAL emulsions, AVANSE technology and ECOGROUND emulsions,' says Saha. 'Silicones in coatings counter corrosion and extreme temperatures while raising the aesthetic value of the structure through their colour and gloss retention properties.'
Just another example of how chemicals enhance construction.
For best results
Consider customisation: Custom-made, performance-based construction chemicals have been utilised for the construction of iconic buildings such as DLF's Camellia, Sobha's Sobha Indraprastha and Pashmina Developers' Pashmina Waterfront, observes Nilotpol Kar, Business Director, Construction Chemicals, BASF India. 'In particular, commercial buildings are taller and deeper than before, and have architectural and building efficiency facilities that may need customised chemicals.'
Test the products: At Mapsko, products from well-known brands are used, shares Rahul Singla, Director, Mapsko Group. 'Still, to maintain quality, we mandatorily test every product at site, in a lab, before use. We test products to ensure that they confirm to the manufacturers' specifications and test the application.'
- CHARU BAHRI
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