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Posted: May 24, 2011

Nanoparticle-based Concrete Admixture X-Seed From BASF Improves Energy and Climate Balance of Concrete

(Nanowerk News) The concrete admixture X-Seed from BASF reduces the carbon emissions and the consumption of energy and resources associated with the manufacture of prefabricated concrete parts. This is the result of the "Nano-NachhaltigkeitsCheck" (nanosustainability check) developed by the Freiburg Oeko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology). BASF conducting a pilot trial with the Oeko-Institut, has tested the new method and analyzed the new hardening accelerator X-Seed. "Developing innovations for highly efficient and sustainable construction is an important part of BASF's activities. The study of the Oeko-Institut shows we are on the right track and that nanoproducts like X-Seed are making an important contribution," said Dr. Tilman Krauch, President of BASF's Construction Chemicals division.
The German Federal Environment Agency and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety sponsored the research project launched to develop the nanosustainability check. "The results of the pilot study show that the nanosustainability check now provides us with the methodological basis for evaluating the benefits of nanoproducts under sustainability aspects," said Dr. Wolfgang Dubbert, expert for nanotechnology at the German Federal Environmental Agency, at the experts' meeting on the research project "Sustainability check for nanoproducts" on May 20, 2011, in Berlin. With this instrument, companies developing nanoproducts can now systematically analyze both the potentials and risks. This was also emphasized by Martin Möller, expert for sustainability evaluation of nanoproducts at the Oeko-Institut. "Analyzing the results of the instrument we have developed allows us to develop solution strategies that contribute greatly to a successful innovation process of a nanoproduct."
Less carbon emissions – tougher concrete parts
The hardening accelerator X-Seed consists of inorganic nanoparticles in the form of calcium silicate hydrates added to the concrete. These act as crystallization seeds and speed up the concrete hardening process. The concrete now no longer has to be heated to 50-60C to become hard within a certain time. With X-Seed, it hardens just as rapidly as without additional heat.
"In the nanosustainability check, we compared a prefabricated concrete part produced with X-Seed with a conventionally fabricated precast concrete component without hardening accelerator," said Dr. Michael Kompatscher, concrete expert at BASF. The analysis considered relevant key indicators from the areas of environmental and climate protection, occupational safety and health protection, benefit aspects and socioeconomic aspects in a variety of scenarios.
On most of the key indicators, X-Seed performed better than the reference product. For example, use of the hardening accelerator significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. "Applied to the European market, depending on the scenario analyzed between 1.2 to 2.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide can be saved annually," concluded Kompatscher.
Further benefits offered by X-Seed compared to the reference product are the outstanding toughness of the concrete and the possibility of producing concrete surfaces of more attractive appearance. To rule out nano-specific risks for humans and the environment, X-Seed is manufactured and sold as a solution. "Furthermore, the nanoparticles are chemically bound after the hardening process," explained Kompatscher
For further details on the analysis of X-Seed with the nanosustainability check, please go to: www.oeko.de/nano_nachhaltigkeitscheck .
BASF had already investigated the ecological, economic and social effects of the hardening accelerator throughout its life cycle using the SEEBALANCE® SocioEcoEfficiency analysis. This evaluation method also proves that X-Seed saves carbon dioxide, energy and resources in construction activities – and is also more cost effective because no additional heating is needed.
Source: BASF (press release)
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