With GCC countries gearing towards being smart and sustainable, construction methods are evolving and the need for advanced and green construction chemicals is on a rise.
The global construction chemicals market is estimated to reach US$ 33.98 billion in terms of volume by 2020, signifying a high CAGR of over 7.62 per cent between 2015 and 2020. According to reports, government focus on non-oil sectors like construction and active participation of private players in the development of infrastructure and real estate are expected to drive the construction chemicals market in GCC with a CAGR of 4.8 per cent over 2013-18.
The GCC market is a growing one for construction chemicals with many opportunities in different countries.
Julian Pritchard, General Manager, Gulf, BASF Construction Chemicals
UAE LLC, believes that the company has a unique opportunity to highlight its sustainable and high-quality innovations across the GCC. He says, ´As cities in the region gear up to become smarter and more sustainable, construction methods also need to evolve in tandem.´ The company started its operations almost four decades ago in Sharjah, UAE.
Speaking on opportunities, Hesham Magdy, Target Market Manager, Waterproofing, Sika Saudi Arabia Co Ltd, adds, ´The opportunities are driven by a high population in Saudi Arabia and high spending on international events such as the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and Expo 2020 in Dubai. These are leading to the demand for trusted, state-of-the-art sustainable solutions, which help in stretching the limits of construction in one of most aggressive and hot weather climates in the world.´
Chadi Chahine, General Manager, Corrotech Qatar, a Chryso Group company, adds, ´The construction market in GCC is adopting new construction technologies and sophisticated buildings. Considering the construction of the most prestigious structures such as the tallest tower in the world, the biggest shopping mall, the bigger bridge over water, biggest tunnels, to accommodate the forecasted urban growth and country development - these structures depend on new construction chemicals technologies.´
Highlighting projects that are creating demand for construction chemicals, Chahine mentions, are: ´Infrastructure and residential development such as metro, airports, ports, roads, bridges, tunnels, hotels, towers.´ Magdy adds, ´The high population in Saudi Arabia leads to an ongoing demand for housing projects. Infrastructure projects such as the Riyadh Metro and Doha Metro will help transfer more than 1 million passengers per day more easily and will create more efficient oil consumption. Such projects create a high demand for specialised construction chemical solutions such as delivering concrete in high standard class in hot weather conditions and watertight deep stations for the project service life.´
Considering the upcoming developments, the GCC countries are keen on implementing the newest construction technologies, which will require the support of new construction chemicals technologies to help maintain and construct these structures.
So, which construction chemicals act as a crucial component in enhancing the durability and performance of any building or infrastructure projects?
Chahine responds, ´The major component of any structure is concrete, which acts as the skeleton to these structures. And, to achieve its specifications of high durability and strength, there is a definite need to use admixtures such as super plasticisers to reduce the water to cement ratio.´ In this scenario, waterproofing admixtures can be used to reduce water penetration and enhance durability, and depending on the structure, other additives such as shrinkage reducing agents, corrosion inhibitors, accelerators, retarders, and foaming agents can be used.
BASF provides chemical solutions that improve the foundation of structures, enhance resistance to wear-and-tear and mitigate negative environmental impacts of residential and construction energy usage (that constitutes about 40 per cent of global energy use). To this, Pritchard adds, ´The right innovative chemical-based solutions can positively affect building performance, energy usage, facades and overall durability while minimising deterioration. And, at BASF Construction Chemicals, we create chemistry to help buildings thrive through their life-cycle.´
One key factor for the success of Sika´s work is its strategic focus on clearly defined core competencies, namely bonding, sealing, damping, reinforcing and protecting load-bearing structures in building and industry. As Magdy says, ´Sika´s sealing products are used to install durable wind, rain and waterproof barriers in flat roofs, complex tunnel systems, water-retaining structures and sophisticated curtain wall assemblies.´ He goes on to add, ´Damping reduces vibrations in fixed and moving objects, thereby lowering resonance and noise emission in load-bearing structures. Sika´s reinforcing solutions using carbon fibre technology - Carbodur®products - strategically improve the resistance of structures to static and dynamic loads, while protective elements serve to increase their durability. The company´s coatings guarantee long-term protection for concrete and steelwork assemblies against climatic aggressive conditions, chemical action, pollution and fire.´
Trends and developments
With Qatar being awarded the host of World Cup 2022 and Dubai the Expo 2020, many sophisticated and high tech projects are being planned. Also, one cannot ignore the tough environment and high temperature during most months of the year, high chloride and sulphate content in the ground with high water table in some area. Therefore, the design and specs of concrete need to be of high durability, incorporating double blend or triple blend cementitious mixes with low w/c, that lead to the need of designing a specific range of new generation polycarboxilate (PCP) admixtures, what is also called light and mid-range pcp. And, Chryso offers different pcp molecules and specific performers. Chahine says, ´We have been able to benefit from these performances by blending these polymers in different ratios with different raw materials to create dedicated tailor-made products, to the demanding new construction technologies, enhancing the durability of structure, improving our concrete ready-mix and precast customers´ products quality and services to support these projects.´
Also, green building initiatives and certification systems, such as LEED and BREEAM, assess the sustainable performance of building materials as well as the performance of the whole building (for example: energy-efficiency). And, Sika has on offer the most updated solutions that meet these standards. As Magdy lists them, ´Solar reflective roofing and Sika joint sealants system with I-Cure technology, the company´s latest innovation in polyurethane technology, which include features such as low emissions, solvent-free and classification-free.´
Speaking of green, BASF develops products that improve energy-efficiency as well as the speed and ease of construction. On its offerings, Pritchard avers, ´BASF Construction Chemicals offers systems and products that conserve natural resources and contribute to climate protection by reducing material usage and the need for regular maintenance.´
As long as there is demand, the construction market will grow, and consequently the construction chemicals market will grow. According to Magdy, ´Growth is confirmed for the next three years and Sika is investing in its regional presence across the GCC. The company has plans to expand in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar, with customised supply chain solutions, which fit the local condition and achieve the international standard requirements.´
In the GCC region, BASF has over 250 employees across its offices in Dubai (the headquarters), Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. Pritchard informs, ´We offer advanced chemicals solutions for new construction, maintenance, repair and renovation of structures. Our comprehensive portfolio encompasses concrete admixtures, cement additives, chemical solutions for underground construction, waterproofing systems, sealants, concrete repair and protection systems, as well as performance grouts, performance flooring systems, tiling systems, wall systems and expansion control systems.´
As for companies such as Chryso, the GCC and Middle East markets are an important target for business growth and implementation of the company´s newest technology products and services. With the ambition to develop its business in the MEA and strengthen its position in the Gulf area, in December last year, Chryso Group concluded the acquisition of Corrotech Qatar, which is a new industrial base and the group´s 19th subsidiary, perfectly located in the region. Speaking on the company´s range of products, Chahine says, ´Today, we offer a full range of Chryso concrete admixtures to the market as well as supplementary cementitious materials (SCM) such as fly-ash, micro silica and GGBS, which play an important role in concrete durability and sustainability.´ He concludes with an example, ´For every tonne of Portland cement produced, approximately 1 tonne of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. By replacing Portland cement with SCM in a design by 30 per cent, a decrease of 25 per cent in CO2 emissions can be achieved.´
With several upcoming projects and sustainability being the focus for major companies, the construction chemicals market is set to grow.
Durable Concrete Waterproofing Solution
Fadi Farhat, Regional Manager, Middle East, Kryton, elaborates on the benefits of crystalline waterproofing admixtures.
Concrete is the most used building material in the world. But, currently, concrete structures around the world are not meeting their designed service life due to rapid deterioration - most of which is caused by the transport of fluids and moisture through the concrete.
Unfortunately, many common concrete waterproofing methods do not add to the life of the concrete, contain harmful toxins, and are difficult to apply. Fortunately, crystalline waterproofing admixtures provide another option, and Kryton´s Krystol technology is a leader in this segment.
When added to the concrete mix, the Krystol proprietary chemicals react with water or moisture to grow millions of needle-shaped crystals. These unique crystals grow deep into the concrete to fill and block the capillary pores and microcracks and stop the migration of water through the concrete, efficiently rendering the concrete itself to become waterproof.
In fact, Kryton´s Krystol Internal Membrane (KIM) technology is the category leader and is the only PRAH (Permeability Reducing Admixture for Hydrostatic Conditions) according to the leading concrete authority in the world, the American Concrete Institute (ACI). Moreover the ACI´s report (ACI 212.3R-10: Report on Chemical Admixtures for Concrete) states that KIM has stood up to more independent tests than any other solution.
Kryton has waterproofed thousands of high-risk concrete waterproofing projects around the world using Krystol Technology, including the luxurious 5-star Saadiyat Rotana Resort in Abu Dhabi, Singapore´s Marina Bay Sands, and the mega project CityCenter in Las Vegas with tremendous success.