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Business: Lafarge Addresses Construction Industry’s Infrastructure Dri


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In an effort to address the construction industry’s demand for products suited for large construction projects as a result of the country’s current infrastructure spending drive, Lafarge has announced SA’s first CEM II 52,5N premium strength cement with the launch of Rapidcem. Thanks to its innovative properties, this new generation cement addresses the needs of a growing construction market in Gauteng, while reducing the impact on the environment.

South Africa's construction sector was the biggest mover for 2007 with construction growth increasing 18.1%, up from 14.7% in 2006. “In light of this growth we anticipate a great demand for Rapidcem, which has been developed as a superior performance cement with an innovative formulation that meets the high early strength requirements of the precast industry and large construction environments,” says Lafarge national marketing manager, Ilse Boshoff.

Backed by years of research, Boshoff says that Rapidcem combines a major innovation in that it is formulated to have a high rate of early strength development as its primary characteristic. “This is a major benefit to the productivity of precast concrete product manufacturers by allowing rapid turnaround time of moulds or formwork,” she says. “It is ideal in applications requiring high strength concrete mixes or where high early strength is critical, such as large construction projects and concrete road repairs. The product also has a good response to heat and/or steam curing.”

She points out that Rapidcem also combats the impact of low winter temperatures on work rate. “For example, it will ensure that brick and block makers have sufficient strength gain in cold conditions to handle their products efficiently.”

Rapidcem, which is made exclusively at Lafarge’s Lichtenburg Cement Works in the North West Province, produces concretes for those who’s needs include: high levels of early strength development - typically within 24 hours; dense durable concrete that resists destructive attack from many adverse environments; improved workability for easier handling, placing and finishing; enhanced flow ability for easier casting in complex or congested spaces; less surface cracking and better off-shutter finishes from the use of a quality fly ash in the formulation.

Sold in bulk, as it is primarily for high volume users, Rapidcem, a Class II cement classified as CEM II/A-V 52,5N Portland – fly ash cement (in accordance with SANS 50197-1 EN 197) is formulated from Portland cement clinker and 12 - 15% siliceous fly ash from Ash Resources, which is blended and / or inter-ground with the clinker, together with a strength enhancer. For those requiring customised on-site concrete mixes Rapidcem can be further blended with fly ash, silica fume and ground granulated blast furnace slag.

“Rapidcem’s innovative formulation and the incorporation of fly ash enhances the quality and reliable performance of the product and provides enhanced benefits for precast customers and for other specialised formwork applications,” Boshoff explains.

She says that benefits include improved concrete mix workability, making it easier for concrete to be placed in precast moulds; better cohesion for more uniform casting appearance and properties; lower heat of hydration reduces risks of cracking; and denser hardened concrete with enhanced impermeability.

In addition, fly ash is an environmentally friendly product. “Worldwide, the increasing use of fly ash as a component of building materials is making a significant contribution to sustainable development,” she adds. “It reduces the use of non-renewable resources such as limestone and coal and reduces carbon dioxide emissions from the cement industry. In addition, the recycling of a waste-product of coal burning power stations cuts back on the number of landfill sites.”

With a tradition of technical and production innovations, Lafarge Cement manufactures and markets a range of top performance cements. “Our researchers continually work on developing cements suited to diverse customer needs, while ensuring the reduction the impact of these products have on the environment.”

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