Description of Project/Case Study

Argos is the main cement and concrete producer in Colombia and the fourth largest concrete producer in USA. Argos and Sika have been working together to reduce water and cement (paste content) in high volume concrete, while maintaining or improving its properties, by using Sika® ViscoCrete® superplasticizers.

The Sika® ViscoCrete® technology allowed reducing the cement paste contents in conventional concrete, breaking the traditional limits to obtain a better concrete (in fresh and hardened states) at a lower cost. After extensive laboratory trials the field testing phase was successfully completed.

The concrete market in Colombia has grown more than 300% in the last five years, with Argos being the market leader with more than 2.5 million m³. Therefore implementation of this optimization program in Colombia is sure to bring large benefits on both economic and environmental levels.

To estimate the potential gains for the current amount of concrete produced/sold, two alternative concrete mixes for the same application (W/C ratio of 0.65) were evaluated, one being an optimized mix with Sika® ViscoCrete®, the other a traditional mix. The LCA is from cradle-to-gate, which includes all life cycle stages from raw material extraction and logistics to manufacturing and packaging.

Results and Conclusions

To assess the gains from Sika’s concrete paste optimization program for Colombia, the Input Water, Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) and Global Warming Potential (GWP) for both concrete systems are shown below. The Input Water shows the consumption of water for the concrete production. The GWP measures the potential contribution to Climate Change, focusing on emissions of greenhouse gases (for example CO₂, CH₄). CED is the total amount of primary energy from renewable and non-renewable resources.

Input Water

The net gain of water input for the mix with Sika® ViscoCrete® is 32 liters per cubic meter concrete. For the Argos concrete market share, this would amount to filling 33 Olympic pools.

Global Warming Potential (GWP)

In terms of GWP, it “costs” 0.65 kg CO₂ to produce the Sika® ViscoCrete® amount, but the overall net gains are 43 kg CO₂ for each cubic meter of concrete (costs vs. savings factor of 1:65). The Sika paste volume optimisation approach could reduce Argos’ concrete annual carbon footprint by 109,000 tons.


Cumulative Energy Demand (CED)

In terms of CED, it “costs” 18 MJ to produce the Sika® ViscoCrete®, but the overall net gains are nine times that value (160 MJ). The Sika paste volume optimisation approach could reduce Argos’ concrete annual energy footprint by 9,700 liters oil.