Concrete is one of the most widespread raw materials used in the construction industry. It is also one of the most historically significant inventions ever conceived. Used by the Romans to build the Colosseum, it is a proven material that has been used for centuries. Since then, it has gone through a lengthy process of steady improvement.
Currently, many various types of concrete are available and the estimated amount of concrete produced around the world annually is around six billion cubic meters. Advancement in technology have brought us relatively well known types of concrete, such as high strength concrete, asphalt concrete, shotcrete, pervious concrete, self compacting concrete, etc.
One type of concrete that has recently seen significantly more public exposure is so called foam concrete. This type of concrete differs significantly from traditional types of concrete in that its weight is typically 1/3rd to 1/5th that of regular concrete.
Foam concrete is normally comprised of cement, water and small bubbles of air that are trapped inside the mix. The air is usually added in a tightly controlled way, by using a special type of foam that is introduced into the mix. The said foam has a consistency similar to that of thick shaving cream and the bubbles of air inside it are so fine that they are virtually invisible to the naked eye.
More than with other types of concrete, special care should be taken to properly mix the raw ingredients during the production of foam concrete as poor mixing can cause the material to have significantly less strength. A significant advantage of foam concrete compared to regular types of concrete is that it does not require any advanced types of curing. All that is needed for it to set properly is ordinary air curing for approximately 4 to 7 days.
Foam concrete is perhaps the only type of concrete that can be used on permafrost as proven by numerous successful uses of this technology in Canada. The high content of air enables the material to act like a sponge, so that it can slightly change shape when freezing preventing it from fracturing.
The applications of foam concrete are virtually limitless. It has numerous advantageous properties such as very high flow ability, no need for compaction, high workability, freeze thaw resistance. These characteristics alone make it a very good choice in applications such as: reducing load on poor soils, various types of backfill, road sub bases, thermally insulating foundation plates, producing insulating wall panels, precast and many more.