Mapei is best-known for its vast range of construction chemicals, admixtures and adhesives, yet few realize that it’s influence begins far earlier in the construction cycle with the provision of advanced chemicals that aid cement manufacturers in the production of high-quality cement.
In South Africa, and worldwide, Mapei is a major supplier of cement additives and grinding aids that improve the characteristics of cement therefore enabling producers to increase throughput and so achieve better efficiencies and lower costs per ton of cement sold.
Mapei product manager for cement additives, Laurence Gopane, says cement is produced with a complex recipe of clinker and other ingredients including gypsum, fly ash, slag and limestone amongst others. Each additive is tailor-made for each and every plant to support the particular ingredients as well as manufacturing processes.
“Regardless of the mix, even plants within the same organisation may have different recipes with their own unique challenges. That’s where our team comes into its own. We are able to partner with the producer and recommend products that will assist in meeting the specific requirements,” adds Laurence.
“For example, some additives are grinding aids that improve the grinding action of the mills by preventing particle agglomeration and adhesion to equipment; and there are different types available that improve the strength of performance. Mapei Grinding Aids (M.A.G.A) as well as performance enhancers (M.A.P.E) influence the properties of the final cement. Producers are therefore able to “tweak cement” to have different properties, such as optimising early strengths and late strength gains etc.
“The country’s large cement manufacturers rely on these additives to achieve their production goals. Needless to say, since Mapei’s entry into the local market some ten years ago, the game has changed and our modern additives have brought many advantages to the market that ultimately improves the quality of cement to end users,” says Laurence.
He explains that due to the technical complexity of the cement manufacturing process, there are many different variables that need to be considered when adding additives. These include the type of clinker being used, mix ratios of slag, fly ash, and other ingredients, as well as equipment type, grinding media and a host of other variables.
The selection of the cement additive starts with lab testing of the specific raw material.
This usually results in an initial prototype of grinding aids, which is then tested in the mill and adjusted according to the actual outputs and requirements. In the end, however, the result is the best possible product that can be produced cost-efficiently from each manufacturing plant. And, for the end user, it results in the best quality cement at the best possible price per bag or ton.
“For contractors and other users – the use of quality cement is critical in producing high quality concrete for local building sites. It also enables cement producers to keep up with the high demand for quality cement in either bulk or bags. This is when our team from Concrete Admixtures will be able to add further technical support and benefits,” Laurence concludes.
Mapei also hosts an annual Cement Additives Seminar which is open to all cement producers and blenders; regardless of being a current customer or not. Specialists and technical consultants from our C-ADD division in Milan come out to South Africa to interact, educate and present relevant content to the attendees about the Cement Additives industry. The event sheds light on the latest best practices, technologies and products available to help cement producers to keep up with new and challenging demands. The 2020 Cement Additives Seminar is anticipated to take place during the second quarter of 2020.