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Time to think long-term

It may not be long before India sees the construction of nuclear plants for its ever growing energy needs. Building these plants definitely requires special construction technology as well as materials. A key factor is, of course, the ability of the technology and materials to deal with nuclear radiation.

Naturally, instead of the normal density concrete, high density concrete will have to be used, particularly where space is an issue. While formulating this type of concrete, factors like specific usage, availability, cost effectiveness and so on will have to be considered.

And this is exactly where the research and innovation in the field of construction chemicals would be useful. For example, a Mumbai based construction chemicals company made possible the installation of a cyclotron radiation therapy unit in the basement of the Tata Cancer Radiation Center in Mumbai.

The company’s R&D team created a specially modified form of micro-concrete that had the required density, workability as well as setting properties as per the specifications of the Atomic Energy Authorities. There were further challenges like pouring the concrete and designing a shuttering strong enough to withstand the force exerted by the high density concrete. All challenges were met with successfully.

Thus, with our infrastructure requirements becoming more complex and time-bound, the construction chemicals sector will play an increasingly critical role for the construction industry.

Although the use of construction chemicals has gone up since the late 1980s due to the growing demand for quality construction, the industry is long way behind realising its potential.

The current slowdown may come as a setback but only temporarily because the growth potential is simply huge. Analyse this – while a construction project globally uses construction chemicals worth about 3% of the entire project value, the proportion in India is only up to 0.7%.

There is every possibility that this proportion will rise. At its end, the sector will have to continue with its focus on R&D, get organised and push for required regulations with the appropriate agencies.

Regardless of the slowdown, the country’s infrastructure development will not stop. In fact, investment in infrastructure is likely to play a counter cyclical role not just in India but across the world. And we believe a considerable amount of this investment should come to the construction chemicals sector. It will be, of course, beneficial for the entire construction industry in the long-term.

Do let us know your thoughts and have a very good year ahead.

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May 2020
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