The Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) has awarded researchers from Sika Technology AG, the ETH Zurich and the University of Colorado Boulder, USA, for their experimental and modelling studies of new commercial organic additives for the grinding of inorganic solids.
The international researcher team consists of
- Dr. Martin Weibel, Sika Technology AG
- Dr. Thomas Müller, Sika Deutschland GmbH
- Dr. Ratan K. Mishra, ETH Zürich
- Prof. Robert J. Flatt, ETH Zürich
- Prof. Hendrik Heinz, University of Colorado Boulder, USA.

The award ceremony takes place at the SCS Fall Meeting 2016 and the lecture is given on the occasion of the "13. Freiburger Symposium" in Fribourg 2017.

About the Sandmeyer Award

The Sandmeyer Prize is awarded to a person - excluding tenured professors - or to a group for outstanding work in industrial or applied chemistry. The work must be completed in Switzerland or with the involvement of a Swiss national. The prize is awarded annually.

Comprehensive understanding of grinding aids

Despite the wide use of cement, many aspects of its production and use remain poorly understood and offer substantial margins of performance optimization. These unknowns are a great opportunity to lower energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions to meet environmental goals for construction at a large-scale.

Grinding aids have been used successfully for decades in cement production and many other areas, such as ceramics, pigments etc. The main effect is to reduce energy consumption and increase the grinding efficiency. Additional features can be improved – e.g. powder flowability and strength development of binders.There is surprisingly little verified knowledge about the way in which the substances contained in grinding aids act effectively.What is the real working mechanism of these grinding aids?What molecular characteristics control this mechanism?

To answer these questions, Sika expanded its research beyond traditional R&D. On the occasion of its 100 year anniversary Sika sponsored a PhD thesis on molecular modelling. The unique combination of vast industrial experience, laboratory testing of hundreds or thousands of compounds and mixtures, in depth consideration of all possible basic physical and chemical effects and computer simulations have led to a true breakthrough in understanding.

Most pre-existing concepts on factors controlling grinding aid performance as well as the role of molecular structure therein were ruled out. It is now possible for the first time to establish a comprehensive and consistent view including all relevant practical and scientific aspects.