The global surge in urbanization and infrastructure development has led to a significant increase in the demand for silica fumes in the construction industry. Its unique properties have made it a crucial component for high-performance concrete applications. In the evolving construction landscape with a focus on high-performance materials, Elkem continues to play a pivotal role in elevating the quality and durability of concrete in various projects. They are renowned as the leading providers of Microsilica, a high-performance mineral additive extensively used in concrete to improve strength, durability, and resistance to chemical attacks.
Amidst the burgeoning demand, Constrofacilitator had an exclusive interview with Brajesh Malviya, Director- Sales (Construction), Elkem South Asia Private Limited. With over 28 years of experience in the cement and concrete industries, with special emphasis on high performance concrete and is passionate about providing sustainable and advanced concrete solutions. He has been working at Elkem for the last 24 years and has been actively involved in significant projects like sea link, nuclear, hydro projects, metro, high-rise buildings, public structures, and mass housing initiatives.
During the interview, he shared insights on the company’s product range, advantages, future plans and much more.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
1. Share insight on Elkem’s range of silica fume products and applications.
Elkem Microsilica®products are specifically designed to enhance the durability and sustainability of concrete. Some of our primary Elkem Microsilica® products include:
- Elkem Microsilica® Powder, available in various packaging options and densities.
- Elkem Microsilica® 920 EN
- Elkem Microsilica® 920 NA
- Elkem Microsilica® 920 ASTM
Additionally, we offer Elkem Microsilica Slurry (Emsac® 500E), an aqueous suspension of Microsilica compliant with EN 13263, and Microwhite®, a high-purity microsilica specifically designed for construction applications, known for its purity, consistent properties, and light colour. For improving the efficiency of injection grouting, we offer Groutaid®, a specially formulated additive that enhances flowability and hardening during injection into soils, concrete cracks, and stones.
Our products find applications in various sectors.
In marine construction, it is extensively used in large offshore structures like bridges and tunnels to enhance concrete resistance against aggressive environments, particularly saltwater corrosion. For high-performance concrete needs, our product is the preferred choice, as it helps produce concrete with exceptional compressive strength and low permeability. Notably, it has been used in prominent projects like the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai, known for its record-breaking height and structural excellence. In tunneling and sprayed concrete applications, the product continues to play a vital role, reducing waste and enhancing concrete impermeability through its cohesive properties.
2. How has the demand been for silica fume products in the Indian market and how has the company addressed these demands?
The need for silica fumes is of utmost importance in India’s current phase of significant infrastructure development. With ambitious projects like Bullet trains, metros, and highways planned for the next few years, India is poised to become the third largest market by 2025-2027, with the government planning to invest USD 10 billion in the current financial year. Amidst this rapid development, it is crucial to enhance the durability and sustainability of concrete structures.
Elkem Microsilica® has proven to be a vital player in the design and production of high-strength and high-performance concrete and shotcrete. By incorporating Elkem Microsilica, concrete structures gain enhanced durability and longevity in various ways. The material’s environment-friendly properties bring remarkable benefits to concrete, aligning with the present focus on sustainable construction practices.
3. What makes Elkem stand out from other manufacturers ?
Elkem stands out as the original and market-leading silica fume solution provider. What sets us apart is our collaborative approach with customers, actively working together on R&D alongside experts from leading academic and research institutes. This ensures constant innovation and the ability to meet evolving operational needs while complying with changing regulatory requirements.
Being the world’s largest manufacturer of Microsilica, Elkem boasts production plants across Norway, Europe, North America, South America, and Asia. Our extensive network of sales offices, agents, and distributors covers major global markets, offering customers a comprehensive package of high-quality materials, expert advice, and genuine guidance on optimizing available resources. By choosing us customers gain access to a trusted partner with unparalleled expertise and a global presence, ensuring the best solutions for their concrete projects.
4. How does Elkem Microsilica® improve concrete properties?
Elkem Microsilica® is instrumental in achieving (ultra) high-performance concrete, offering a range of significant benefits to the concrete. These benefits include reduced construction times, improved pumpability, enhanced early strength development, reduced formwork requirements, decreased consumption of steel, and reduced concrete sections. Additionally, it contributes to reduced dead load on foundations and provides excellent durability, particularly in terms of resistance to abrasion and chemical attack.
The exceptional performance of Elkem Microsilica® extends to concrete and mortar formulations, where it plays a dual role. Physically, it optimizes the particle packing of the concrete or mortar mixture, while chemically acting as a highly reactive pozzolan. This unique combination enhances the overall performance and durability of the concrete and mortar, making Elkem Microsilica® an ideal choice for achieving superior results in concrete construction projects.
5. What are the advantages of adding Silica fume products for precast concrete?
When applied to precast concrete, Elkem Microsilica® delivers a host of valuable benefits, including higher strength, reduced permeability for minimized ingress of harmful agents like chloride, offering superior protection to reinforcing steel, especially in critical infrastructure like marine structures. It enables early age strength combined with high durability in a ‘triple blend’ mix of fly ash (or ground granulated blast furnace slag) + Portland cement + Microsilica. Additionally, it enhances resistance to abrasion and erosion while improving the rheology of flowing and self-compacting mixtures, streamlining the manufacturing process. Overall, Elkem Microsilica® elevates precast concrete performance and longevity.
6. Discuss a few projects wherein Elkem Microsilica® has been used across projects in India.
Over the past three decades, the utilization of Elkem Microsilica® in India has witnessed remarkable growth. The incorporation of this advanced product has allowed for the production of concrete with exceptional strength exceeding 100 MPa, leading to numerous high-performance concrete projects. Among them are prestigious ventures such as nuclear power stations Kaiga, Kota, and Tarapur, various hydroelectric projects, and iconic structures like the JJ Flyover, Bandra Worli sea link, Statue of Unity, Dhirubhai Ambani International Convention and Exhibition Center, Lodha World One tower, Delhi metro, to name a few. Presently, Elkem Microsilica continues to play a vital role in ongoing projects like the Mumbai metro, Coastal Road project, and Ahmedabad Mumbai bullet train project, successfully contributing to India’s infrastructure development.
7. What is the future growth plan for Elkem in India?
We are excited about our continued investment plans in India, which include several greenfield and brownfield expansions, joint ventures, and acquisitions to enhance and diversify our product lines across various industries. Our ambitious goal is to triple our current revenue over the next five years.
As a company, we are committed to our Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) journey, focusing on sustainable practices and responsible business. We firmly believe that our success is largely driven by our people, contributing to 70% of our achievements, while technology and processes account for the remaining 30%. Therefore, we will continue investing in our workforce, with a strong emphasis on fostering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) as the core of our people philosophy.
We intend to introduce new product lines and upgrade our existing portfolio in alignment with emerging global trends. Embracing Digitalization & Automation, we are dedicated to improving efficiency and delivering an enhanced Customer Experience.
Our primary focus is on offering high-quality products to our customers, complemented by value-added services, giving them a competitive edge over their rivals and helping them succeed in the marketplace.