Aircrete is a material that combines strength, durability, and lightweight properties that make it easy to work with when building. It’s relatively inexpensive when compared to concrete and has a less environmental impact.
Aircrete is not as strong as concrete. It is 50% the strength of regular concrete. Unlike concrete, which contains materials that make it dense, Aircrete infuses air bubbles or styrofoam beads to make the concrete less compact and lighter.
This guide will help you determine whether aircrete comprises versatile features that could eventually replace concrete in building construction projects. So read on.
How Strong Is Aircrete?
Autoclaved Aerated Concrete, which is also known as foam concrete or Aircrete, is a conventional concrete that includes a mixture of sand, fly ash, lime, gypsum, cement, aluminum powder, and water.
The goal of aerated concrete is to displace concrete with air. In the mid-1990s, Aircrete was regarded as weak, non-durable, and contained high shrinkage characteristics. The reason is the unstable foam bubbles that occurred when producing very low-density foam concrete, which was less than 300kg/m3.
Conversely, the proper development of Aircrete must ensure that the air entrained into the formed concrete is very tiny, even and has consistent bubbles.
The mixture must also remain intact and isolated so as not to increase the permeability of the cement paste between the voids. The density of the foam is crucial in making high-quality Aircete. The foam must be long-lasting, firm, and should not dissolve too quickly; otherwise, it would collapse.
Commercial protein-based foaming agents produce better quality foams for making Aircrete. The foam is agitated by a foaming agent with compressed air to make Aircrete.
Synthetic-enzyme based foaming agents and foam stability admixtures have added significant value in the stability of Aircrete. Further, specialized foam generating, mixing, and pumping equipment used in the production of foam concrete have improved the product making it possible to manufacture 75 kg/m3 density blocks.
Conversely, dry densities of 400 to 1600 kg/m3 (about 25 lb/ft3 to 100lb/ft3) make foam concrete. However, Aircrete varies in density depending on the application from 12.5 lb/ft3 to 100 lb/ft3.
Why Aircrete Is Not As Strong as Concrete
Lighter density foam concrete cuts into different sizes with a hand saw to desired proportions. Also, unlike standard concrete, Aircrete is easy to drill and carve, making it easy and fast for a construction worker to handle.
Prefabricated foam concrete structures have a smooth finishing, which reduces plastering and labor costs. Aircrete features thermal and acoustical insulation properties that make it very different in application than standard concrete.
These properties make it ideal for various purposes like insulating floors, roofs, and trench reinstatement. It also eliminates the thermal bridge, which allows the flow of outside air in a regular concrete structure. Aircrete is less dense than concrete and lightweight, making it less tiring to work with when building.
Conversely, Aircrete blocks are fire-resistant and waterproof and cannot rot or decompose in water. As the world continues in its commitment to replace harmful building materials with more eco-friendly ones, Aircrete features a low environmental impact making it an excellent non-toxic building material.
Recommended Projects for Aircrete
Today, prefabricated aerated concrete is used extensively in commercial buildings, schools, apartments, highways, and industrial projects in the USA, a few European countries, India, Malaysia, Mexico, and several African countries. Here are a few building projects that can utilize Aircrete:
- Prefabricated insulation boards
- Bridge embankments
- Precast blocks
- Insulating compensation laying
- Sunken portion filling
- Insulation roof floor screeds
- Pipeline abandonment
- Trench reinstatement
- Sub-base in highways
- Insulation floor screeds
- Precast wall elements
- Cast-in-place walls
- Filling of hollow blocks, etc.
Although Aircrete is durable, lightweight, non-toxic, and features thermal insulation properties, it can weaken a dome shell due to the loss of comprehensive strength. Besides, it would take longer to build because it requires more passes of lower density concrete.
How Strong Is Concrete?
Concrete is the most accepted and widely used building construction material in the world, including fine and coarse aggregate material bound together with a fluid cement.
Throughout history, the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians used a primitive form of concrete. In the early twentieth century, concrete mixed with locally available aggregates became an established industry.
The use of concrete is twice as that of steel, wood, plastic, and aluminum combined. The usage of concrete blocks in a range of construction projects demonstrates its popularity. Concrete blocks feature strength, insulating and sound-proofing properties.
Conversely, the distinctive feature that gives concrete durability makes it ideal for all types of load-bearing walls. Dense concrete blocks include cement, sand, water, and rock pebbles.
When the aggregate mixes with a binder such as Portland cement, it forms a slurry that can easily mold into a shape. The aggregates form a hard matrix that binds the materials together into a durable stone-like material.
There are many types of concrete available, and they vary in strength, density, chemical, and thermal resistance. However, standard concrete employs Portland cement and steel reinforcement for high comprehensive strength for load-bearing projects.
Strength of Concrete
The strength of concrete value measures as lower-bound comprehensive strength or high-bound comprehensive strength. Low strength concrete features 14MPa (2000psi) while concrete for routine use includes 20Mpa (2900psi).
High-strength concrete in large civil projects measure 40Mpa (5800psi) in strength. Also, commercial structures that are very rigid include concrete with 130Mpa (18900psi).
Since concrete features high comprehensive strength but lower tensile strength, it’s necessary to reinforce it with sturdy tension materials like steel reinforcing bars, carbon fibers, steel fibers, aramid fibers, and plastic fibers. Additionally, it has a low coefficient of thermal expansion and shrinks as it matures.
Increasing the Strength of Concrete
Proper curing of concrete is crucial as it leads to increased stability and lower permeability. Besides, the early strength is enhanced if it is kept damp during the curing process.
Properly hydrated concrete that reaches its ultimate durability must be adequately hydrated. Curing concrete slabs also involves spraying curing compounds that create a water-retaining film over the concrete.
For high-strength applications, an accelerated curing technique is employed that involves heating the poured concrete with steam. Also, care must be taken during curing to avoid freezing and overheating due to the material’s exothermic setting.
The steam raises the temperate and keeps the concrete slab moist so that the hydration process proceeds quickly. Traditional curing involves ponding the surface of the concrete with water and wrapping with plastic to prevent dehydration.
Other curing methods include wet burlap and plastic sheeting covering. Improper curing of concrete reduces strength, causes scaling, cracks, and becomes weak in abrasion resistance.
Concrete is a relatively cheap material, non-combustible, pliable when wet, and robust in compression. It applies in a wide range of applications from bridges, roads, dams, curbs, pipes, drains, and more.
Besides, concrete is not just useful as a building material for large scale projects, but it’s essential in constructing concrete barriers for security measures. It also helps regulate the interior temperature in buildings for better energy efficiency and reduced costs.
Aircrete is a compelling material, and there are many applications where it would be appropriate. Besides, prefabricated Aircrete products are easy to work with for large-format constructions thanks to their lightweight properties.
The material is also environmentally friendly, pest proof, durable, economical, fireproof, and water-resistant. However, unlike Aircrete, regular concrete is one of the most durable building materials.
It features superior fire resistance, strong in compression, and gains strength as it matures. It’s relatively cheap and requires low maintenance and provides thermal mass. It applies to a wide variety of applications like foundations, residential buildings, dams, roads, and other projects.
- Wikipedia: Admixture (concrete)
- Monolithic: Aerated concrete vs. thin-shell concrete
- Core: ADVANTAGES AND IMPLICATIONS OF LOW-DENSITY AIRCRETE PRODUCTS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
- Wikipedia: Concrete
- Design Buzz: 8 Reasons why AirCrete needs to replace Concrete in construction
- Wikipedia: Accelerated curing
- Designing Buildings: The use of concrete structures to protect construction sites