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Science in our materials

Scientific research enables Lafarge to understand the properties of its products in order to improve their performance and develop even greater innovations.

Using nanotechnology to understand building materials

Lafarge R&D teams use sophisticated technology to study the structure of materials at the nanoscale, with almost infinitely small objects that range from 1 to 100 billionths of a meter in size.

 

Nanoscale observation enables us to:

  • see what makes a material tough, strong or durable,

  • understand its underlying physical and chemical properties.

 

The study of building materials at the nanoscale enables Lafarge to improve the performance of its existing products. It also allows the development of even more sophisticated products offering new possibilities for architects and engineers.

 

Microstructure of materials

"For a long time, we believed that construction materials were homogenous. However, by working at the microscopic level, we have come to realize that they are highly complex and extremely heterogeneous. Today, we use the latest techniques to obtain precious information about the microstructure of materials. Research now occurs at the nano-scale. The challenges this presents are enormous."

 

P. J. M. Monteiro, Head of Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Materials at the University of California at Berkeley.

 

Superplasticizers: The wonder of fluid concrete

Concrete is difficult to work with because its particles are mutually attracted upon contact with water. Its inherent firmness and viscosity is especially problematic when a high-quality finish is required.

 

Superplasticizers enhance concrete's fluidity without adding water. These molecules physically separate the cement grains by neutralizing their force of attraction. The concrete thus remains fluid for over 2 hours and is easier to use, more resistant and longer lasting.

Granular stacking for more resistant concrete

Water that fails to evaporate while concrete is setting creates porosities, which can cause fissures and weaken the finished material. Granular stacking improves concrete's compactness and resistance by reducing porosity.

 

The technique replaces part of the water normally used to make concrete with fine and ultrafine grains that fill the spaces between larger grains. The result is a more fluid concrete that is more compact when it sets. The smaller pores resist weathering influences better (e.g. water, air, CO2), increasing concrete's mechanical characteristics and durability.

 

Environmentally friendly building materials

Lafarge also uses scientific research and experimentation to find ways of using fewer natural resources. Lafarge's goals in researching more environmentally friendly products are twofold:

 

  • In the production process, to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and conserve natural resources - e.g. by increasing the proportion of recycled raw materials used.

  • To develop products for sustainable construction - e.g. enhancing the properties of materials, such as concrete, that retain and distribute heat in cold climates and keep interiors cool in warm climates.

 

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The Science in our materials

Scientific researches have enabled breakthroughs in the field of building materials. Lafarge is a pioneer in this regard and has invested heavily in research and development this enables Lafarge to improve the performance of its existing products. It also allows the development of even more sophisticated products offering new possibilities for the construction industry.

LafargeHolcim. Cement, aggregates, Concrete.