Autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks have been finding an increasing number of takers in recent times in India. The attractive combination of being environment friendly, while also being a cost-effective option has been behind their rise in popularity. Methra Industries is one of the market leaders in the field with its Cell O Con range of latest technology AAC blocks. Ably led by its Managing Director, P.Venkatesan, Methra Industries has firmly established itself in the field. A post graduate in structural engineering from Anna University, Venkatesan, has over three decades of experience in the construction industry, having started this venture, after an earlier stint with PWD. The Masterbuilder recently spoke to him and found out more about the Cell O Con range of AAC blocks. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Tell us about your manufacturing facility? How “Green” is your manufacturing process?
AAC blocks are manufactured using pulverized flyash got from burning coal waste. What this means is that on one hand the environment is saved from dumping of this coal waste and on the other hand, it is used for the manufacture of a good product.
Thermal power plants’ waste is effectively used unlike brick manufacturing which degrades and erodes agricultural land, which is already a precious commodity in a highly populated agro based country like India. Here it has to be mentioned that sand- based blocks cannot be called a “green product”, since it uses sand. The product in the case of AAC blocks is steam cured, so that the product that comes out finally is cured uniformly and attains uniform strength.
The use of AAC blocks is gradually becoming popular in India. This has led to the proliferation of several manufacturers offering AAC blocks. Tell us briefly how Cell O Con AAC blocks is different from others?
Cell O Con AAC blocks use the least amount of energy for production than any other masonry building material. The manufacturing process is such that negligible gaseous, liquid or solid waste is released into the environment. No toxic ingredient is used in the process of manufacturing. The main ingredients are only fly ash, cement, gypsum and lime. The waste material after the process is 100% per cent reusable and this makes the process really environment friendly.
The AAC blocks are manufactured with great care. We have a research facility to monitor the quality of the product on the spot and also to make special elements such as, bull nose, lintels, panels etc. The special elements such as bull nose, prefabricated RCC lintels, and other architectural elements are made in the plant using exclusive cutting process. Quality is our “ Taraka Mantra”.
No compromise is made with regard to quality and it is checked on a daily basis. Personal attention is given each and every end – user with explanations about the structural viability, cost savings, thermal insulation and other properties by using Cell O Con AAC blocks. This attention to detail and customer-focused approach has meant that today even someone who is building an individual house is opting for this product. Tremendous efforts are being taken to popularize this product among the public, something which has been elusive in the past.
It is well known that AAC blocks are a sustainable option, so far as their environment-friendliness goes. What about their “economical” sustainability? In brief how can they help bring down the project cost?
Cell O Con AAC blocks are seven times the size of traditional bricks. It results in substantial savings in cement due to fewer joints compared to brickwork and finished plaster work. Because of the lightweight nature , these blocks can be handled easily. Added to this is the fact that less labour is required for construction, which is a really a boon in these days of extreme labour shortage. The blocks are factory finished with precise edges and shapes which brings down the cost of thin plaster or putty finish for inside wall because of the uniformity. Due to light weight and low density, overall dead load reduces, thus saving structural steel consumption, as compared to conventional masonry. There is an increase in carpet area by 3 to 5% depending on the design. Operating cost savings can be realized through reduction in maintenance and energy bills. Since AAC blocks give higher work productivity constructions are also done much faster. These blocks cover greater area for the same mass of brick used thus saving transportation costs, thereby conserving precious fuel.
What are the application areas driving demand presently for AAC blocks?
The application areas that are driving demand for AAC blocks include:-
– Residential construction
– Commercial construction
– Institutional construction
– Multi-storied buildings
– Industrial Constructions
– Add on floors and extensions
– Insulation purpose
– Crafts and murals