Scope for Wider Application Areas and the Demand Drivers

R.K. Jha, J.K. Cement Ltd.

There is high demand for white cement in countries with hot climates, as more heat is reflected from white concrete surfaces as compared to standard grey concrete. As a value-added product, white cement is becoming increasingly popular in countries with advanced economies, where it is often used for construction of innovative buildings and to create landmarks of the future.

The first white cement plant in India was commissioned by J.K. Cement Limited at Village Gotan, District Naguar in Rajasthan, and the second by Grasim Industries a few years later in the same area. There are still only two plants in India and the total average production is around 1.2 MT /annum. White cement is still being used in finishing works as there is a misconception that white cement has less compressive strength than grey cement, but the fact is that the reverse is true.

White cement is produced by a process, which is similar to that of grey cement, even though the raw materials differ significantly. The Iron Oxide and Iron Sulphate content in the limestone must be as low as possible as each 0.1% increase in iron oxide reduces the cement whiteness and its reflectivity by around 2.5%.

White Cement in India

Applications and usage of white cement

The white cement market in Italy, France and Spain is segmented into residential, commercial, industrial, and public buildings. Public and commercial segments are seen to consume nearly 80% of the white cement, while the industrial followed by the residential segments consume the remaining 20%. However, white cement applications differ from country to country and are mainly based on the following factors:
  • Construction practices in the country
  • Purchasing power of the people
  • GDP of the country
  • Awareness of new applications drives undertaken by the producers and other stakeholders.
Residential usage: The main application areas are in repair works, tiles and their fixing, and white cement-based prefabricated products. The main products being consumed by this segment include dry mixes, tiles & floorings, artifacts, etc. The driving factors include convenience in usage, quality, product range and the aesthetics.

Commercial usage: This segment too utilizes white cement for repair works and tile fixing. Primary products include tiles and dry mixes (apart from tile adhesives there is usage of mortar in repair works).

Industrial usage: The industrial segment too uses white cement for repairs and tiles & pavers related works. This segment is seen to use white cement in improving the external facades of their establishments. Usage of white concrete (apart from dry mixes), white cement-based tiles & floorings and white cement based adhesives, is beginning to pick up.

Public buildings: This is the largest consuming segment in most parts of Europe. The main application areas include creating facades, white cement based tile adhesives, statues and pavers. This segment has more purchasing power than the other segments. The need for distinctive buildings is the main driver which has led to higher usage in architectural works.

Areas of usage in India

In India, white cement is mainly used for the following purposes:
  • Traditionally used in cast in-situ floorings.
  • Later, it began to be used in mosaic tile manufacturing, marble/tile laying, white washing, wall finishes, repair work, paint etc.
  • It is now being used in dry mix mortar (putty, tile adhesive, grout, plastering or as levelling material etc), designer tiles and pavers, GRC, garden furniture, etc.
Reasons for less usage in India
  • Purchasing power of end-user is significantly lower.
  • India has cheaper labour so mason/contractor/ applicator has a strong role to play in deciding the material to be used.
  • Indian market is very price conscious.
  • Use of white cement applications is lesser in commercial and public buildings; instead, glass cladding and other non-structural products have gained more popularity in India in recent years.
Potential for greater usage in India
  • White cement applications and products not only meet the aesthetic requirements but also have structural and other technical benefits.
  • With increasing urbanization, there is a huge scope for white cement applications in the coming years.
  • In small towns, the increase in understanding architectural concepts will help in creating awareness of white cement applications.
  • Increasing purchasing power and awareness of global standards will increase the inception of new building materials in India’s construction Industry in the years to come.
Innovative applications of white cement that are gaining popularity:
  • RMC (white concrete)
  • Dry mix mortars (various ready-to-use products)
  • Stamped concrete
  • Innovative terrazzo flooring and wall finishes
  • Designer tiles and pavers
  • White cement polished concrete (recently approved in a government project in Delhi).
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