Posted by Piotr Bazula - 10 July, 2018
“Panta rhei” (everything flows). The Greek philosopher Heraclitus was already aware of this some 2,500 years ago – and it also applies to concrete. Nowadays, it is largely the concrete admixtures used that determine how far, how long, how fast, or how easily concrete will flow. The science of the flow behavior of materials is called “rheology”. In the production and processing of concrete, its rheological properties play a key role.
"Rheology Made Easy" at the ERMCO Congress
ERMCO – The European Ready Mixed Concrete Organization – held its 2018 conference in Oslo on 7 and 8 June. This is the ideal platform for dialogue with experts and customers. This year, Master Builders Solutions focused on rheology – with a technical paper and the presentation of two new products. In his paper “Rheology made easy”, Piotr Bazuła, Customer Segment Manager Ready Mixed Concrete Europe with Master Builders Solutions first outlined the history of rheological admixtures for construction materials: from animals’ blood in antiquity via the sticky rice used for the construction of the Great Wall of China to the innovations of Master Builders Solutions in the 20th century, with MasterEase as the current pinnacle of development.
How can concrete become more environmentally compatible?
“With our advanced superplasticizers based on polycarboxylate ether, we can realize environmentally compatible, resource-conserving concrete formulations with a large share of cement replacement materials,” Bazuła explains. “The result is a sustainable, cost-effective concrete that has reduced water content as well as self-compacting properties, where required. The working time of the concrete can be adjusted outstandingly well. Nevertheless, the concrete has a relatively high viscosity and is sticky, a side-effect which had previously been scarcely noticed and was simply accepted. However, would it not be better to retain the positive properties of the product at the same time as reducing viscosity?
Low-viscosity concrete creates added value
Master Builders Solutions shouldered this challenge. MasterEase, an innovative, highly effective polymer, was developed and launched in the marketplace in 2015. The benefits of this product for concrete producers and processors are significant. The mixing time of concrete can be reduced by up to 35%. As a result of the lower viscosity, the concrete can also be pumped more easily over considerable distances. In addition, the compaction and surface smoothing processes were significantly improved, reducing the working time required and the wear on tools. “Thanks to the more efficient use of equipment and the faster processes involved, it is possible to save costs without any adverse impact on the final product,” Bazuła emphasises. Another key point is sustainability: thanks to innovative MasterEase technologies, it is easier and less costly to process environmentally compatible concrete – which means that it can be used considerably more often.“
The next generation: working time over three hours
At the ERMCO Congress, the experts from Master Builders Solutions presented the next generation of superplasticizers to the ready mixed concrete sector. The MasterEase 9000 and MasterSure LDP product series “allow the working time of concrete to be extended to more than three hours at the same time as retaining all the benefits of the tried and tested MasterEase concept,” says Bazuła. He adds that the new product series will be used in special civil works projects, for components with closely spaced steel reinforcement and for projects involving long transport and pumping distances.