The building industry’s choice of construction and insulation materials is coming under increasing scrutiny due to environmental and safety issues. Concrete certainly offers fire retardancy, but how can you ensure excellent thermal insulation without making compromises in terms of weight or structural integrity? The answer – Libradet 40.
Libradet 40 is a synergistic blend of surfactants and foam stabilisers. Its ability to create a high-foaming product with consistent bubble size means it is well-suited to the production of lightweight foamed concrete. Libradet 40 was first introduced to the Middle East in 1997 and now has over two decades of proven use as a cost-effective solution for the production of superior-quality, lightweight concrete mixes that offer excellent thermal insulation. Lightweight concrete may vary from 300 to 1600 kg/m3. The compressive strength of foamed concrete, determined at 28 days, ranges from 0.2 to 10 N/mm2, and thermal conductivity from 0.1 to 0.3 W/mK.
‘Libradet 40 was developed through our experience of formulating products used for firefighting foams,’ said Richard Lock, Commercial Director, Libra Speciality Chemicals. ‘Its similar technology and application techniques enable the creation of a honeycomb structure in the concrete, which gives great thermal insulation properties.’
A multitude of applications for minimal capital investment
Inclusion of Libradet 40 in concrete blends can assist in the creation of high-quality, low-cost and lightweight concrete beams, blocks and panels. However, it also has a strong track record in a variety of alternative applications, such as improving insulation performance in roofing and floor screeds, enhancing fire retardancy in mixes for service voids and fire walls/doors, and reducing the costs involved with trench reinstatement and roadworks.
Importantly, all these benefits can be realised with minimal investment in specialist equipment. ‘Essentially, the difference between making concrete and lightweight concrete comes down to a foam-generation unit, water and Libradet 40. That’s all that is needed,’ said Richard.
Benefits of Libradet 40
- Excellent thermal insulation in lightweight concrete blends
- Suitable for use with all types of Portland cement
- Excellent stability over a wide range of temperature and water qualities
Suitable for use even in cold weather
Shaping the future of European construction
Until now, lightweight concretes have not played a major role in European construction, while their popularity in the Middle East continues to grow. Over the last two decades, demand for Libradet 40 has increased in the Middle East and Indian markets, mainly through word-of-mouth recommendations. Today, hundreds of tonnes are sold per year and the customer base continues to expand.
‘The long-term success of Libradet 40 in the Middle East speaks volumes about its function and stability,’ said Richard. But beyond just its proven technology, Libradet 40 also offers compliance with the ASTM C869 international building standard, offering the European industry a viable alternative to hazardous polyurethane insulation.
‘The building insulation market in Europe has changed dramatically over the last 2–3 years,’ said Richard. ‘There is much to be learnt from what the Middle East has done with lightweight concretes and infill structures. Their experience provides a solid springboard for the transformation of the European construction industry.’