Eco-friendliness and value-added products are the keys to success, says Anil Banchhor.
Concrete is the most used manmade material in the world. In fact, it is used more than all other building materials combined, including wood, steel, plastic and aluminium. Its superior properties on strength, durability, thermal mass and affordability, make it the material of choice for most purposes. 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.
Minimising the impact of concrete
ACC is well aware of these impacts and addresses them individually in its manufacturing of cement and concrete, as well as collectively with other organisations. The company makes use of fly-ash in its products to reduce the content of OPC (ordinary Portland cement) and make it more environment-friendly. In case of normal concrete, about 35 per cent of OPC is replaced by fly-ash. This also adds durability to the concrete and it needs lower maintenance.
In fact, in India most ready-mix concrete for the construction industry has fly-ash between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of cementitious material. With the use of Canadian technology, we have introduced high-volume fly-ash concrete (HFC) called Ecocrete that replaces OPC by 50 per cent. It is an environment-friendly, high-performance, durable concrete, designed to build sustainable structures.
By using fly-ash in products, the organisation not just minimises the use of cement in concrete, but reduces CO2 emissions, as 1 tonne of OPC contributes to 1 tonne of CO2. Further, the embodied energy of the concrete is decreased by reducing the 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 per cent. It is beneficial in harbour construction, underground structures, civil water conservancies, roads, bridges, and high-rise buildings, owing to higher resistance to sulphate and reduced chloride-ion penetration. Another product, Thermocrete, is designed to provide thermal comfort in 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 the energy consumption required to keep rooms at a comfortable temperature.
Sustainability in manufacturing, reduce, recycle and reuse are the mantras strictly followed in the company's manufacturing plants. The recycling plants at the manufacturing sites recycle any material that comes back from the client site. The coarse and fine aggregate is separated and reused, bringing down the cost for procuring fresh aggregate as well as the disposal hazard and cost. Consequently, 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. ACC aims to have non-pollution, zero-waste manufacturing plants by using advanced technology and equipment like bi-filters and special pumps.
Value-adding and innovation
With concrete manufacturing getting computerised world over, ACC needs to create a point of differentiation. Its value-added products bring innovations in this segment for the Indian construction industry.
For instance, the self-levelling, high-strength concrete, Jet Setcrete, is a concrete solution designed to gain ultra-high strength within a few hours and with self-levelling features suitable for faster construction demand to achieve project completion within a short period of time. In addition, Permecrete, a truly eco-friendly and high-performance concrete, permits seepage of water through itself, thus improving the groundwater 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 it in soil.
Fixotile is a tile-fixing adhesive mortar that can be used for tile-on-tile and tile-on-substrates applications. Enhanced bonding properties ensure that the tiles on vertical surfaces do not fall off. It is also useful for repair and renovation work, as the mortar can be directly applied on existing floors and surfaces new tiles fixed over. Decorative concrete lmprintcrete and Stained Concrete is a concrete that is coloured, patterned, textured or embossed to resemble natural stone, wood, brick and flagstone. It can also be finished in customised designs and colours as per the client´s requirement. It is commonly used for patios, sidewalks, driveways and pool decks and is a less expensive alternate to authentic materials. Moreover, architects in collaboration with ACC, have created some artistic patterns and textures for interior use.
Further, witnessing the burgeoning need for speedy pothole repairs, ACC has introduced products for urban roads, highways, pavement and bridges. Speedcrete is a quick road solution available in two variants: UTWT 24 and UTWT 8. UTWT 24 is used to build roads that can be thrown open to traffic within 24 hours and UTWT 8 is used for road repair works wherein roads can be opened to traffic within eight hours. For example, in Chennai and Thane, in pilot projects of road stretches measuring 150 km and 30 km respectively, a 100-mm-thick layer of Speedcrete over existing bituminous road was ready to use within 24 hours.
As India's foremost manufacturer of cement and concrete, ACC supplies products for the building construction and infrastructure sectors. With increased budgetary allocation to infrastructure, we expect increased construction activity and use of our innovative products, which are only 10 per cent higher in terms of costs but offer much more efficient solutions.
About the author:
Anil Banchhor, Chief Executive-Concrete Business, ACC, has previously served as a regional business head of ACC Concrete, regional business head of west and central at ACC, and also served as the Head of North-RMX at ACC. He has over 19 years of experience with the company.