Concrete is an essential material for building social infrastructure such as skyscrapers, highways, and bridges.
Kao is applying the results of research in surfactants science to the development of high functioning chemicals with minimal environmental impact for use in civil engineering and construction.
Concrete is made of water, cement, sand, gravel, and air. The strength of concrete depends on the water and cement ratio. The lower the water-to cement ratio, the higher the strength of the concrete. At the same time, the workability of concrete is reduced, making it difficult to use in construction.
Kao uses unique technology based on surfactants science to work on this challenge. Kao succeeded in developing concrete admixtures that ensure high flowability even with low water-to-cement ratios by repeatedly analyzing cement slurries as well as the hardening process.
The development of cement dispersant Mighty made it possible to achieve both strength and flowability at the same time. During high economic growth period in Japan, Mighty had contributed to the building of skyscrapers, improved workability, and innovative construction methods. Mighty has continued to evolve and is used in the construction of tunnels, highways, bullet trains, etc.
Also, when constructing tunnels subject to flooding from spring water, waterside seawalls and landfills, the concrete disperses into rivers and oceans, contaminating water. To address this issue, Kao developed the eco-friendly thickener Visco Top at such construction sites.
Visco Top forms high dimensional network with threadlike micelles consisting of two kinds of surfactants. Adding this to concrete prevents the separation of substances that occurs when concrete comes into contact with water. This prevents contamination of the environment.
This technology is utilized in constructing tunnels and repairing important facilities that are seriously affected by spring water. Recognizing the benefits, the Japan Chemical Industry Association (JCIA) awarded this technology the 49th Technology Special Award in May 2017, and the 50th Ichimura Industrial Awards Contribution Award in April 2018.
More recently, the use of new materials as well as industrial by-products and recycled aggregates has also increased. We are therefore developing chemicals to make buildings safer and stronger even when using these materials, and researching the use of natural raw materials, as we continue to pursue more ecological solutions in the field of civil engineering and construction.