Feature

Enhancing Binders

June 2019
Adhesives and sealants are revolutionising the building industry as integral components of the construction process by being an alternative to conventional fasteners and joining materials.

The current market for adhesives and sealants is at the highest – and in the next five years, it is poised to grow at 6.33 per cent and 9.47 per cent, respectively. 
According to Ajay Durrani, Managing Director, Covestro India, “The components that are driving these markets are emerging economies, technological advancements, globalisation, increase usage of adhesives and sealants to seal and protect materials in an environment-friendly manner, the building and construction sector, footwear industry and wood-working and joinery industry.”
To this, Muralidhara K Shenoy, Country and Commercial Director, Huntsman Advanced Materials, adds, “Government regulations regarding environmental impact have led to an increase in demand for low or no volatile organic compound (VOC) adhesives.” 

Industry insights 
Adhesives and sealants have had a large impact upon the construction industry since the invention of synthetic polymers. Their usage proliferated rapidly with the introduction of a much wider range of high-performance base polymers and formulations between 1960 and 1980. “Today, adhesives and sealants are important elements of most building systems and structures,” says Durrani. 
“It is a trend that will accelerate as the industry adopts innovative construction techniques and designs.”
In terms of revenue, the construction sector has been a major contributor to the adhesives and sealants segment. “Increasing government focus on infrastructure development and a rise in construction projects have led to an increase in demand for primers, adhesives and sealants,” says Shenoy.       

Applications and trends
Adhesives and sealants are revolutionising the building industry as integral components of the construction process. 
In the view of Monica Khosla Bhargava, Principal Architect, KHAM Consultants, “Not only do they replace the mortar of traditional construction practices but additionally provide weatherproofing advantages. 
Their effective application in bonding a vast variety of building materials, including glass, concrete, bricks, stones, tiles, ceramics, wood and metals, is contributing to a change in the way we use 
these materials, both in architecture and interiors.” 
Adhesives and sealants are mainly required for rapid curing with durability and resistance to extreme weather conditions. Elaborating further, Shenoy says, “Our range of epoxy resins, hardeners, epoxy reactive diluents and specialty additives provide high-performance systems, designed for protection, maintenance and repair of cementitious substrates and structures. As part of its Araldite Builder range, Huntsman has introduced Barrier Koat, which is useful to combat leakages, and Klad X, which is used for vertical cladding of marble.” 
For his part, Chetan Raikar, Chairman and Managing Director, Structwel Designers and Consultants , believes cement is the best and the first adhesive known to the construction industry. “Another form of adhesive is chemical binder of various compositions, which has been used in India for over four decades now. The adhesives are used to fix flooring and dado tiles, gaps between shuttering plates and planks, plaster bond enhancers, waterproofing bond enhancers, bonding old and new concrete in repairs sites, etc,” he says. 
Another innovative building material highly dependent on adhesives and sealants for its application is the slim tile. “Lightweight and large size, industrially produced slim tile with adhesives and grouts is used to fix and finish products,” says Bhargava. “It spells the smart future of architecture with its high sensitivity to green building practices.”

Aiding products
Adhesives and sealants are a preferred alternative to conventional fasteners and joining materials as they help streamline the construction process and aid in overall cost reduction. 
As mentioned, Huntsman’s Barrier Koat is mainly used to combat leakages while Klad X is used for vertical cladding of marble. “It offers high-strength adhesive properties along with a fast bonding time of 30 minutes and is perfect for large projects and outdoor applications,” updates Shenoy.
Adhesives and sealants are required for both indoor and outdoor applications. “For outdoor applications, they provide stability against UV rays,” explains Raikar. “One needs dimensional stability when in constant touch with water or moisture.” 
For construction and corrosion protection, Covestro offers PASQUICK® coating technology, a groundbreaking polyaspartic coating technology, fit for demanding applications, both indoors and outdoors. “It can reduce the number of required coating layers and offers excellent handling and protection properties,” says Durrani. “This means faster work flow and reduced labour costs without any compromise in quality for coating projects.” Covestro’s vast range of polyurethane raw materials offers special high-performance, fire-rated and space-efficient solutions to 
the thermal insulation needs of buildings. Also, the company has gone beyond such products, to offer solutions including PIR-based dry panel systems for affordable housing. 

Research methodology
Given the technological advancement in the sector, this is truly the right time for the industry to focus its efforts on R&D to meet the requirements of customers.
As for Huntsman, its Araldite brand has been synonymous with high bonding strength, superior quality, durability and innovation. As Shenoy says, “Customer satisfaction is paramount and our extensive supply chain network of over 1 lakh retail outlets across India has helped Araldite become the most trusted partner.” Besides, it has set up a state-of-the-art technology and innovation centre in India to facilitate customisation of product offerings to better suit local requirements. 
Meanwhile, the investment by Covestro in a technical centre in Mumbai (SMDC) has helped serve local, diversified customer needs.  

The challenges
For adhesives and sealants, the challenge lies in understanding the varied needs of different industries and adopting solutions to suit the needs of clients. “For this reason, it is imperative that companies continue to spend adequately on R&D,” avers Shenoy. Another challenge the industry faces, according to him, is price-based competition from unorganised players. As for Durrani, he urges strict certification by OEM and component manufacturers.

Towards Sustainability 
There has been an increasing drive in the entire chemical industry to improve the sustainability of processes and products. This is owing to growing environmental awareness among customers and ensuing regulations, and the looming shortage of oil from which many chemicals are derived and associated petroleum price volatility. 
“Using bio-renewable materials or waste feedstock helps reduce the carbon footprint,” says Ajay Durrani, Managing Director, Covestro India. “The inherent biodegradability of renewable material such as starch, polyhydroxyalkanoates or cellulose is often higher than that of synthetic materials such as polypropylene and polyethylene.”  
And Monica Khosla Bhargava, Principal Architect, KHAM Consultants, says, “Most adhesives we are using are sustainable products; the beauty of it is that most of the R&D has resulted in the availability of green products in the market. For instance, Kerakoll, which gives a rating on every product.”