Use of construction chemicals in infrastructure


Sukanta-Mallik,-AsstSukanta Mallik writes on why construction chemicals have became an indispensable ingredient for infrastructure industry.
In the middle of 19th century, after commercial production of ordinary Portland cement, the construction industry witnessed huge changes and got widespread acceptance as a prime building material. Initially, it was used as a mortar for joining building blocks. However, after invention of reinforced concrete, the construction industry got a new dimension and impetus to cater to the growing need of infrastructure and housing.
With the increase in demand, complexity of structures, aggressive environmental conditions and requirement of stronger structure, construction chemicals have became an indispensable ingredient for construction industry.
In India, construction chemicals mainly cater to the following segments:
Water proofers and waterproofing materials: This segment is subdivided into two parts — one is integral waterproofing compound and the other is either liquid applied or pre-formed membrane systems. This particular segment contributes about 14-16 per cent of the total construction chemical business in India.
Admixtures: A wide range of admixtures is available for different requirement and grade of concrete. This is the biggest segment in the industry which occupies about 40-45 per cent of the market share.
Concrete aids: Mainly shuttering releasing agent and curing compounds come under this segment.
Grouts and grouting compounds: This segment caters to high-strength, cement-based and epoxy-based grout.
Floor hardener and coatings: Flooring materials also has a big share of 12-14 per cent in this segment and includes metallic and non-metallic and liquid floor hardeners, and floor coatings of epoxy and PU and hybrid kind of systems.
Repair and rehabilitation products: This is again a very important segment and the most potential area which will grow in a very fast pace. This segment already occupies about 12 per cent of the market share. The materials are epoxy or cement base mortars, fiber wrapping materials, grouts and micro concretes, among others.
Anticorrosive and protective coatings: This segment also has a very high potential as the awareness to protect structures is increasing. At present, different types of corrosion inhibitors and protective coatings system are available. However, vigorous research and development are going on globally.
Miscellaneous: Other than the mentioned areas, there are so many materials used in the industries like sealants, tile adhesives, grouts and wall putty.
At present, the construction chemical market is about $40,000 million globally with an average growth rate of 5 per cent. In India, the growth rate is about 17 per cent and estimated market is about $1,100 million.
Owing to the tropical climate in India, a substantial volume of sale of construction chemicals in India comes from building and non-building structures that need repair and renovation. In fact, corrosion prevention and control is a major driving force behind the use of construction chemicals in India. Using superior quality construction materials in building structures can bring down the cost of renovation and repairs and provide long-term benefits.
The lack of awareness among end-users poses the biggest challenge to the construction chemicals industry. The overall economic growth, increased investment by government in infrastructure and real estate, and participation of both domestic and overseas investors can impact the industry.
While construction chemicals bring down the cost of infrastructure in the long term, builders perceive using of quality construction chemicals as a costly affair. That apart, very few people in the construction industry are aware of the products. The challenge aggravates further due to the lack of skilled labour for the construction chemicals industry processes.
If these challenges are conquered, India can emerge as one of the biggest construction chemical giants in the coming decade. Construction chemicals improve the productivity of the construction sector by a great deal. If used in the right manner, these increase the longevity of the structures and add value to the sector.
The growth of real estate and infrastructure are at the core of nation building. The current government has showed deeper interests in investing on construction projects across the country. There are a lot of projects that have brought in better opportunities for the construction chemicals industry. If all the opportunities are tapped and explored correctly, both the builders and the end-users stand to benefit from the construction chemicals industry.

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