What is foam concrete?
Foam concrete is a lightweight, strong and durable material for use in structures that require lightness in weight. It is produced by mixing cement with water, air and a foaming agent, which causes bubbles to form in the mixture. These bubbles trap large amounts of water inside them and this gives the concrete its strength and stiffness. The foam can contain supplementary materials such as fly ash, ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) and silica fume. This increases its strength and reduces the amount of cement required in the mix.
The production of foam concrete involves mixing all ingredients together and then pumping the mixture into a mold or onto the construction site using specialised equipment. The foamed concrete is then allowed to set and harden. This process takes around 28 days. The density of the foam can be varied, depending on the foaming agent used. It can be as low as 75 kg/m3 - which is the equivalent of 7.5% of its water content.
The choice of the foaming agent is very important as it must be able to produce high-quality foam with little energy. A good foaming agent will also have excellent stability over a wide range of temperatures and water quality. This will ensure that the foam does not collapse during production or after being placed. The workability of the foam can be increased with the addition of an organic stabilizer. When xanthan gum was added to a commercial non-ionic surfactant foaming agent, it gave an increase in compressive strength of around 43%.
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