Cement manufacturers look likely to benefit from surging sales volumes for LafargeHolcim’s new Airium concrete block range. The company says that it expects to sell at least one million concrete blocks filled with Airium insulating foam this year, well ahead of its initial expectation of 600,000.
Airium concrete blocks are injected with an insulating mineral foam. They have been designed to replace expanded polystyrene blocks, which are less environmentally sound. However, the clever new technology comes at a price: the Airium blocks cost nearly two and half times more than traditional concrete blocks. They are manufactured by three French groups: Alkern, Seac and Fabemi, using machines created and financed by LafargeHolcim. The group also has plans to introduce Airium blocks to North America soon.
This method of production is a new business model for LafargeHolcim, with the three partner groups working under the France Blocs banner. Lafarge has plans to increase production capacity from three to ten active machines by 2020, when new environmental regulations are expected to be in place in France.
According to Lafarge: “Airium is a mineral insulating foam technology. It is fully fire-resistant, long-lasting and sustainable. It can fill any type of shape and cavity, either on site or in an industrial controlled environment. It can also be used in a simple way for many applications: from sub-screed floor insulation to the filling of concrete blocks (France and Austria are pilot countries for BlockFill) to roof terraces (in Morocco) and attics (ongoing development in France). Home comfort, energy savings and indoor air quality: these are key preoccupations from our end-users on which Airium provides an unprecedented answer. Airium is a true revolution for both the construction and the insulation worlds.”
Also, according to the company, “Airium addresses energy efficiency challenges as well as the needs of construction professionals and homeowners. It is entirely mineral based, thereby healthier. It offers maximum fire resistance. It exhibits excellent durability, as it does not shrink over time (up to 100 years). It is 100% recyclable with a low CO2 impact and it is easy to use.”
Approximately 30 to 40% of global energy consumption is used for heating and cooling buildings and LafargeHolcim is clearly targeting the thermal insulation market with its Airium blocks. “The development of Airium,” says the multinational giant, “is in line with the commitments of LafargeHolcim’s 2030 Plan to generate one third of its revenue from a portfolio of products and services with enhanced sustainability performance. LafargeHolcim is committed to deliver energy savings and offer healthy and sustainable construction solutions for occupants.”
Gérard Kuperfarb, group head of growth & innovation at LafargeHolcim says: “This product truly represents a new concept for insulation. Healthier, safer and simpler to work with, Airium is an energy-efficient insulation for buildings, in keeping with LafargeHolcim’s commitment to offering sustainable, high-performance construction solutions.” It is important to develop new technologies and stay ahead of the curve he adds.
The story first appeared in Dec 2018 via Usine Nouvelle.