Interview: Why Maturix® Is Contractor Kruse Smith’s Chosen Concrete Sensor

Interview: Why Maturix® Is Contractor Kruse Smith’s Chosen Concrete Sensor

Providing the best results for clients: that’s what most contractors strive for. And Kruse Smith is no different. That’s why the Norwegian contractor has recently started digitalizing their work for the E39 highway project. As part of this process, they took a special focus on technological innovations and how those could improve their on-site performance. That has allowed them to minimize any repetition, time consumption, and labor costs associated with their work while producing more cost-effective and timely end results.

More specifically, it has allowed them to effectively develop the 19 km (11.8 mi) of the E39 project that they are responsible for.

However, the project as a whole is likely to be the largest coastal highway infrastructure Norway has ever conducted. At about 1,100 km (683.51 mi), the project is expected to replace multiple ferry travel points and cut down travel time from 21 hours to just 13.

To optimize their part in this extensive project, Kruse Smith conducted a digital pilot project, enacting innovative changes, such as replacing paper plans with 3D modeling and BIM and using wireless sensors for concrete monitoring.

These wireless sensors (also known as Maturix Smart Concrete Sensors) help optimize Kruse Smith’s work on-site by enabling the contractor to remotely monitor the temperature and strength development of multiple concrete structures in real time. It’s a method that saves them time and money that they would have otherwise spent on physically checking each concrete form.

For more details on how this innovative technology is helping the contractor move forward on the E39 project, the creator of Maturix, Sensohive Technologies ApS, conducted an interview with two members of Kruse Smith’s team, Marius Røksland, and Asbjørn Stålesen.

The interview gave great insight into the use of Maturix in the infrastructure project. And we are happy to add to the conversation, sharing additional interview details on how Maturix helped Kruse Smith in their everyday work.

To talk about Kruse Smith’s work on the E39 project and their use of Maturix, we have two members from their team. Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?

Marius: My name is Marius Røksland, and I work for Kruse Smith as a project engineer.

Asbjørn: I am Asbjørn Stålesen, and I’m the project manager for the new E39 between Kristiansand and Mandal.

What are you currently working on?

Marius: At the moment, at this jobsite, we are building 19 bridges, completing the new E39 highway. It’s a four-speed, 110-kilometer [68-mile] highway on the coast of Norway, all the way south. It is one of many small stretches of roads that we have been constructing.

For this one, now, we have been working for a couple of years and still have one-and-a-half years to go.

This bridge is about 370 meters long. It’s a dual lane, so we are doing two at the same time.

How far are you with the bridge?

Asbjørn: Currently, we are 90-, 95-percent finished. We have cast all three bridges, but we have some of the small works around them left before we can hand them over to the client.

On this particular project, we have all cast-in-place. We have no precast, and we do this with quite big formworks.

These are 120-meter [393.71-foot] bridges, but we reuse the formworks from one to the other. So we try to do as much of that as we can, but it’s important for us to think industrial scale because we’ve been building so many bridges in such a short time. This is also why monitoring the curing process enables us to move on a lot faster as we know exactly when we can remove the formwork.

What are the challenges of this project?

Marius: The weather is a challenge as it is way too cold. We have problems with ice and snow here in Norway, especially now when it’s so cold. So it’s important for us to know the concrete temperature in the whole bridge and every cast. This has mostly to do with the maximum temperature, but also now in these conditions, we really have to be careful not to have anything freeze until we get the curing.

There are also different aspects, but mostly, that the temperature may not differ too much from the core to the outer edges as the structure can get damaged otherwise. In the current temperatures with the cold, it is a challenge. So we really need to monitor the temperature!

Did you always monitor the concrete temperature in mass concreting?

Asbjørn: It’s always been a requirement that we monitor, but the other systems we used were offline. That means that you go and collect the data and you come back and analyze it.

This also means that in real life, you do this more than one time — maybe once if you’re lucky — and directly get the required result.

Marius: Before Maturix, we used manual data loggers. They were digital, but not wireless. Then, you had to take the sensors, set them up, leave the sensors, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. And then, some days later or some hours later, you have to go back out to the form, check whatever reading there is, collect it, put it into the computer, and see what you actually get.

Asbjørn: So even with the data loggers, it is still very time-consuming to set them up and go get them. Also, you really don’t know what the data looks like until you actually finish the casts and do the analysis. (With Maturix, you get all the graphics and analysis on the screen — live.) And you don’t get any chance of doing something as you progress through the curing process.

That means that you’re not really actively using the data. You’re crossing your fingers and hoping that everything has gone well, and afterwards, you have documentation that it did. It’s a very passive way of working compared to having the data available at all times.

How do you actively use the data?

Asbjørn: So that’s one aspect of it — better active documentation and quality control. Another is, if we forgot something and suddenly there is a change like a temperature drop or some kind of temperature change or another concrete mixture — or if it gets too hot, for instance — or you were expecting to see this curing process start in, say, eight hours, but you didn’t get it until it was 14 hours? Then, we can investigate further why and potentially save time next time by adjusting the mixture or doing some additional work prior to casting.

So, are you using the monitoring data to optimize future casts? Has that influenced internal teamwork?

Asbjørn: Yes. We see that in everyday life, we’re using the data so much more, and discussions around it have been brought up. The temperature data becomes an everyday topic instead of being something that a quality engineer does and documents. And we see that the data has been actively used to improve how we build.

How important is the monitoring data for you, and how do you use it?

Asbjørn: It’s important for us at all levels. For me, as a project manager, it’s important to keep control of all the work going on. We have work in a lot of different sites, and this enables me to keep track of ongoing castings and how they are doing. So basically, we can monitor the situation in real time so that we know what’s going on.

But it’s also important for us in everyday work, where we have control over all the curing processes at a much better level now. And we can much more accurately predict when the concrete is cured and when we can go to the next step.

But it’s also good from a quality aspect. We can use it in meetings and discuss how the castings are going and which areas of concern there might be or how we can adjust for future casts.

Marius: We can check whatever the concrete is doing and share the information with the client. That creates a lot of transparency and trust.

Who has access to the monitoring data?

Asbjørn: Well, we have chosen to share the access to the software with both our clients and third-party members. So everybody has full access to all the data, and the feedback from that is very good! They check the data, and they discuss it with us. We have a very good dialogue with all parties, and we get to share the knowledge of how to improve our quality of work.

It gives a whole new level of trust, showing them that we have nothing to hide. And this is very good to have in a project like this!

So, how easy do you think it would be for someone who has not used Maturix before to get started?

Asbjørn: We’re finding now that it doesn’t take much training at all and that people are really on board. People are really interested and want to use it as much as possible here, and it’s certainly not a system we will go away from.  It has come to stay with us.

Marius: You just take the cable, connect it to the transmitter, start it in the software, and you are ready to go. It’s super easy to get started.

What would you tell someone who is considering Maturix?

Marius: I think it would be better to show them. You get everything that you need, plus a lot more! You get all the data and don’t need to be on-site or do the analysis, so it just is better and quick and easy.

Asbjørn: I’m firmly recommending using the system. It gives you much more insight into what you’re doing. Also, together with your client, it gives you better client relations and a higher quality of work. So in my mind, this is the way forward!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, and good luck with your work on the E39 project!

Convenient. Cost-Effective. Remote. Concrete monitoring with Maturix. Book a demo today!

The post Interview: Why Maturix® Is Contractor Kruse Smith’s Chosen Concrete Sensor appeared first on Kryton.

Convert Your Concrete Slab from a Maintenance Liability to an Asset

Convert Your Concrete Slab from a Maintenance Liability to an Asset

When you think of concrete, it’s likely not long before you’re thinking about its durability. It’s one of the more well-known advantages of the material. And it’s why many choose to use concrete in construction. After all, no one wants to build with a material that couldn’t withstand the outside elements. So we turn to that concrete durability, relying on it enough to make concrete one of the most consumed materials on the planet, second only to water.

But concrete isn’t invulnerable. Depending on its mix, you could have a maintenance liability on your hands. Luckily, there is a way to avoid that. All it takes is being aware of how you can convert your concrete slab from a maintenance liability to an asset.

An abrasion test has worn a groove in the concrete slab, showing the aggregate underneath the paste.

Keep in Mind That Slabs Can Be Prone to Wear and Tear

The first step in the right direction is to remind yourself that while durable, concrete slabs can still be prone to wear and tear.

It’s why you look for concrete hardening products. They’re meant to add an extra layer of protection to the concrete’s surface, sheltering it from abrasive and erosive forces that might otherwise degrade the concrete.

You can probably think of quite a few culprits responsible for this wear and tear. But as a refresher, let’s look into the specific types of abrasion and erosion you’re likely protecting your concrete from.

Number of Abrasive Forces Can Cause This

As noted in our latest e-book (which you can download and check out for yourself here), there are three specific types of abrasion-only wear:

Sliding abrasion — Also known as two-body abrasion, it’s what happens when a hard object slides across concrete. As it moves, the hard object will begin to gradually bore into the concrete, removing a bit of its surface each time. So if you have skids or some other item with a hard material moving back and forth over your concrete frequently, you’ll start to notice a rut in its surface.


Foreign particle abrasion — For any concrete projects that deal with vehicles, you’re sure to come across foreign particle abrasion. That’s because as the vehicles travel over the concrete, hard particles get trapped between the vehicle tires and concrete surface, and that wears down both materials simultaneously.


Rolling abrasion — A common sight in industrial spaces, rolling abrasion is what happens when wheels under a heavy load roll over a concrete surface. These wheels might come from carts, forklifts, or other wheeled equipment. But whichever one it is, over time, their movement over the concrete surface wears that surface out and creates noticeable dips in the concrete.

Erosive Forces Can Also Cause Similar Damage

One of the more common types of erosive wear is actually a combination of abrasion and erosion. And it’s often seen in hydraulic projects.


Well, these projects are typically ones that are surrounded by fast-moving water, such as dams and spillways. So they are more likely to encounter the abrasive effect of debris in the water grinding against their concrete surfaces. This debris might come in the form of silt, sand, gravel, rocks, or even ice. And while it’s roughing up the surface of the concrete, the surrounding water rushing by is gradually causing the concrete to erode.

A pale door shadowed in darkness stands ajar, showing an alarmingly red room past it.

That Can Open the Door to Various Costly Risks

If either abrasion or erosion starts to seriously affect your concrete to the point that you can see the damage, it can create a safety hazard, disrupt operations, and increase maintenance costs.

For Floor Slabs, That Can Involve an Increased Danger of Slipping, Tripping, and Falling

All those dips and ruts in concrete flooring caused by abrasive wear? They can pose a threat to your team’s personal safety.

While for a time, you might be able to work around the uneven flooring, you or someone else on your team is inevitably going to slip, trip, or fall. In fact, it’d be close to a statistical anomaly if you didn’t! Slips, trips, and falls make up a third of lost-workday injuries according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And as EHS Today notes, the primary cause for more than half of these injuries is due to an issue with a walking surface. So you can imagine the risk you take with keeping that uneven floor!

The cost of not implementing preventative measures for this kind of risk for businesses in the United States of America (USA) alone is about $70 billion a year overall in compensation and medical fees for workers.

For Road Slabs, That Means Traffic Accidents

Similar to how uneven flooring can pose a risk to people walking over it, uneven roads can be a risk to those driving.

Initially, that unevenness might be a slight difference in road surface from all that foreign particle abrasion. But eventually, that slight dip might lead to potholes or a fully uneven road. It also increases tire wear, making the vehicles on the road less efficient and safe to use.

All of which increases the risk for roadway accidents. Potholes on their own cause around $3 billion in vehicular repairs annually in the USA. And in Canada, each year, the cost for drivers as a whole is increasing by that same amount because of increased vehicular repairs and maintenance and general vehicular damage due to poorly maintained roads.

Hazards like potholes pose an even greater risk for those on motorcycles and bikes.

Those on motorcycles, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, may crash when encountering potholes. That can be a significant concern as motorcycle incidents have a 29% higher fatality risk than ones that occur with automobiles and light trucks.

For cyclists, they can end up with permanent nerve damage. But that’s not the worst-case scenario. Much like those on motorcycles, cyclists have a higher fatality rate when it comes to crashing. For instance, since 2007, in Britain, potholes alone have killed at least 22 cyclists and seriously injured another 368.

The Potential Damage Doesn’t Stop There Either

Of course, worker injuries and vehicular damage aren’t the only costs to consider when facing abrasion and erosion damage. You also have productivity, equipment, and structural loss to worry about.

For instance, workers operating forklifts on an uneven surface are likely to drive more slowly to avoid tipping over, reducing worksite productivity. And if they don’t? You’ll likely be paying to repair or replace that forklift and any items it happened to be carrying.

Using fully automated equipment won’t do much to overcome this obstacle on its own either as an uneven surface can prevent it from operating properly.

And what about structures? With enough abrasion and erosion, owners will have to close down for repairs and replace large sections of concrete structures, from floors all the way to hydro dams. All of which is extremely costly to any business and doesn’t endear owners to the concrete they used.

A construction worker is adding Hard-Cem into his concrete mix during batching.

But Your Concrete Slab Doesn’t Have to Be a Maintenance Liability

You just need an effective concrete hardening solution.

Your first thought might be to use conventional surface-applied concrete hardeners like dry shake hardeners or liquid hardeners. However, those come with a number of setbacks.

Dry shake hardeners, for one, come with a complex application process. It’s not a one-and-done deal. Instead, a worksite team has to prepare the worksite first. That means removing excess concrete and preparing the remaining concrete. Then, depending on your chosen hardener’s material, you may have to take an extra step and use a wood bull float and then a machine float. After that, the team can finally move on to actually applying the dry shake hardener, which will cover a couple millimeters of the concrete’s surface.

However, even that part isn’t without complications. Dry shake hardeners can only be applied during a specific time and type of weather. Pick the wrong time and you can end up with delaminated concrete or an inability to even apply the dry shake.

At the same time, this hardener makes use of a toxic material known as silica dust, which means a worksite team needs to meet the proper safety measures to keep workers safe and comply with legal restrictions.

On the other hand, while not as frustrating to apply or as hazardous as dry shake hardeners, liquid hardeners are often misrepresented. They were first sold as dust reducers to help with defective concrete slabs that had a dusty surface. But now, they’re expected to harden concrete, which they do very poorly.

(For more reasons and data on why these aren’t effective solutions and more, take a look at our e-book on the topic!)

So, what can you use instead?

pply Hard-Cem to Increase Your Concrete Slab’s Resistance to Wear and Tear

Unlike any other concrete hardener on the market, Hard-Cem is an integral hardener. That means it applies its hardening properties throughout a concrete mix to form one solid abrasion- and erosion-resistant material. Essentially, it’s an admixture that you add into the concrete mix during batching. At that time, the admixture will permeate the entirety of the mix, giving it a harder concrete paste and reducing fine and coarse aggregate exposure. It does all this to help the concrete effectively resist abrasion and erosion.

Your Concrete Slab Will Gain Many Other Benefits as Well

More specifically, when using Hard-Cem, you’ll double the wear life of your concrete.  Because it does last that long and can resist abrasion and erosion, Hard-Cem-treated concrete comes with fewer maintenance fees. So you won’t need to resurface or replace your concrete as often. And you won’t need to use as much cement. That can increase your savings on carbon emissions by as much as 40%!

In some cases, this has even helped construction teams earn LEED certifications.

All you need to do to get these advantages is to throw the admixture and its dissoluble bag into the concrete mix during batching. There are no extra application steps, toxic silica dust, or inefficiencies to worry about. So you don’t have to spend money or time on hiring extra labor or managing application errors. Hard-Cem does all the heavy lifting, giving your mix the thorough durability it needs as soon as it’s added.

Hard-Cem also offers incredible versatility. It can work for a variety of projects and help harden horizontal, vertical, and inclined concrete. And it is the only hardener capable of being used for air-entrained concrete.

In short, it increases your concrete’s durability, speeds up your construction, reduces application costs, provides universal compatibility for different concrete mixes, and makes it all more sustainable.

A construction worker is guiding concrete mix down into the area it needs to be poured in.

It Just Takes the Right Concrete Mix Ingredients

With Hard-Cem added into your concrete mix, your concrete slabs will be an asset to your project. They’ll need less maintenance over the years, help you reduce your carbon emissions, and most importantly, keep abrasion and erosion at bay to keep your concrete structures standing for as long as possible.

Download our e-book today to find out why the industry is moving away from surface-applied concrete hardeners.

The post Convert Your Concrete Slab from a Maintenance Liability to an Asset appeared first on Kryton.

Did you miss our previous article…

Silica Dust: The Dangers and How You Can Mitigate Them

Silica Dust: The Dangers and How You Can Mitigate Them

While it doesn’t look like silica dust is going away anytime soon, you may want to consider using an alternative material for your worksite when possible. After all, regulations in the United States of America (USA) are starting to get tighter. And it’s possible those restrictions will become the norm for other countries too.

In fact, just last year, the USA’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a national emphasis program on the material. It’s an initiative that’s meant to restrict silica dust exposure due to the risk it can pose for workers in a number of industries. As a result, you can now expect more inspections on your management of the material. And if your management doesn’t follow the updated regulations, you could face monetary penalties from $5,000 up to $70,000.

Not long after these restrictions were implemented, the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Labor argued for stricter standards for silica dust management in mines. Those included making use of more frequent silica sampling protocols and issuing citations and fines for excess silica dust exposures.

Similar plans for stricter regulations were approved in 2019 in Australia. The hope was to limit the silica dust exposure that stonemasons in the country experience. While regulations were tightened to a degree, they weren’t tightened as much as planned as there was concern over giving businesses enough time to meet the new compliance requirements.

But why is there such resistance? What makes silica dust so appealing and concerning at the same time? Is there no way around this infamous construction material?

To get a better understanding of the situation, we’ll take a deep dive on the subject. Join us as we delve into why silica dust is popular, what makes it dangerous, and how you can minimize its usage.

An aerial view of a construction worksite shows two yellow cranes among a sea of buildings and materials.

Hard to Avoid, Silica Dust Comes from a Number of Helpful Construction Materials

Whether we like it or not, silica dust comes from a very common mineral. Known just as silica, this mineral is found throughout the earth’s crust. It can come in two different forms: crystalline and noncrystalline silica. That first form is the one we often call silica dust. And it comes in a form of its own known as quartz. It too is also easily found throughout the world as it’s a basic component in sand, gravel, clay, granite, and various rocks.

As you can probably already tell, that means silica dust can be pretty hard to avoid. It’s in a lot of basic construction materials:

ConcreteCementMortarTilesBricksRock- and stone-based asphaltBlasting abrasives

All of which are often the building blocks to a wide variety of construction projects. They help construction workers create buildings, warehouses, and many other structures.

In some cases, silica dust can even be found in products that are meant to help protect structures. That includes surface-applied concrete hardening products like dry shake hardeners.

It’s what makes it so difficult to avoid silica dust. It’s part of our essential building materials, helping to make it possible to construct projects in the first place.

A woman and a man in construction clothes are running upstairs through dust while coughing at a worksite.

But Its Help Can Come at a Serious Cost

So long as people don’t create dust with those materials, they’re fine. The crystalline silica just remains within the material, harmless to people nearby. In return, people can safely reside within durable concrete buildings, stand on nice cool tiles in their bathroom, and so on.

However, that’s not often the case during the construction of those structures.

It May Be Stable When Left Alone, but Once Agitated, It Becomes a Problem

Construction activities of all kinds can often kick up dust. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

ChippingSawingDrillingDemolitionAbrasive blastingTunnelingExcavating

Once those activities do start up and move some dust around, there’s a problem. That’s when it’s possible for crystalline silica to become dangerous and interact in ways it shouldn’t with our health.

That Makes It a Health Risk for Anyone Nearby

Essentially, as soon as silica dust is in the air, there’s a risk for people nearby to inhale it. Why a risk? Well, silica dust is a known carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer in people. More specifically, silica dust is known to spur on the development of lung cancer. And that isn’t the only disease it can lead to. It can also cause people to develop kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

After inhaling silica dust, people may even develop silicosis, which is particularly dangerous as there is no test for it. You can’t even easily define the signs of silicosis. Its symptoms match many other diseases after all. And you can’t recover from it either.

However, silicosis only tends to occur after you’ve been exposed to silica dust for 10–20 years. That may seem like a more manageable risk level to you. But keep in mind that if your exposure is intense enough, you could develop silicosis after 5–10 years or even after just a few months of exposure. And that’s only for this one particular disease!

In fact, it doesn’t take much silica dust at all to be a threat, whether you’re exposed to it over the years or within a day. That’s why OSHA limits a person’s permissible exposure level to silica dust to 50 μg/m3 over an eight-hour day.

A dust suppression truck is traveling through a road surrounded by green trees while spraying water to suppress dust.

Many Try to Mitigate the Damage of Silica Dust

Despite its risk, silica dust is still necessary for certain areas in construction. That’s why construction sectors and work safety organizations around the world take silica dust safety seriously. As a result, they typically apply the following safety measures and more to manage the application of the material in a responsible way that’s designed to keep construction workers and the overall worksite as safe as possible.

Part of That Includes the Use of Engineering Controls

These measures are designed to eliminate hazards like silica dust before workers come into contact with them. It’s what makes them more favorable than other measures like administrative controls and personal protective equipment (PPE). However, that’s also what can make them a bit more costly at the start. In the end, though, these controls are always good to have in the long run. While initially costly, over time, they’ll reduce operating costs for construction teams and keep them safe and healthy at the same time.

So, how does this work for silica dust?

There are a number of engineering controls that can be used against silica dust. These include the following:

Dust suppression — To prevent as much dust as possible from stirring at all, workers might choose to use water sprays. These might be sprays that can be attached to a tool like a pneumatic, hydraulic, or gas-powered saw. Or they might be sprays that form a curtain of water to protect a specific area from airborne dust particles. In either case, the idea behind it is that once dust particles come into contact with water droplets, they become heavier and are less likely to float in the air and pose a threat to workers.

Ventilation — When workers are agitating silica dust, they can use local exhaust ventilation to suck the dust away before it reaches their breathing area. For instance, if they are using hand-held cut-off saws to cut concrete, they can connect an exhaust hood (also known as a shroud) to the tool first. The hood is connected to an industrial vacuum cleaner with a flexible hose, which allows it to produce enough suction to capture the silica dust.

Industrial vacuum cleaning — Much like with portable ventilation, workers can suck dust away from areas through high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering vacuums. There are a variety of HEPA vacuums to choose from, including stationary, intermittent-filtering, and continuous-filtering models. So the efficiency of dust suppression with this method will depend. Though, workers should use one that has oversized filters. That allows the vacuum’s filtration system to collect a lot of dust and debris for a longer period than a vacuum with smaller filters.

dministrative Controls Also Come into Play

While not as favorable compared to engineering controls, administrative controls can be combined with them for extra protection. Under these particular controls, a construction team will determine the right work procedures that allow workers to do their job well and safely.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, that can include implementing the following practices:

Worksite education — Without proper knowledge of silica dust, workers could have an increased risk to getting hurt while working near the material. To prevent that, it’s important all workers know what silica dust is, why it’s a threat, and how they can reduce that threat to a manageable level.

An exposure control plan — On top of worksite education, a construction team should have an exposure control plan. That ensures they will have a handy reference at their disposal that outlines the proper directions and expectations for preventing silica dust exposure.

Proper washing facilities on-site — To keep silica dust from spreading too far from the worksite, workers need to make sure they aren’t heading home in a cloud of the material. That might sound a little tricky, but all this requires is proper washing facilities at the worksite. These should provide clean water, soap, and individual towels. That way, each worker has the opportunity to effectively remove any dust around them.

nd for Extra Good Measure, Workers Have PPE

Similar to administrative controls, PPE is more effective when combined with engineering and administrative controls.

But this all depends on the equipment used! Some may find it easier to whip out a disposable dust mask and wear it. As the National Precast Concrete Association notes, it’s likely to be less hot to wear and easier to talk through than respirators approved by official safety authorities like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). And with the word dust in that name, it sounds like it might protect workers from silica dust, right?

Well, unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Disposable dust masks are not NIOSH-approved. And they aren’t meant to really protect people from toxic substances. They’re actually better used as a way to stay comfortable while mowing grass or sweeping or dusting an area.

That’s why you want to go with an officially recognized and approved respirator. It’s designed to protect the wearer from all sorts of airborne contaminants, such as hazardous dusts, fumes, vapors, and gases.

On top of that, workers should also wear overalls and gloves to protect the rest of their body from coming into contact with silica dust. It also makes it easier for them to leave the dust at the worksite as they can simply strip off that uniform, leave it for cleaning on-site, and go home in their non-dusty attire.

A construction worker is surrounded by Hard-Cem bags and is holding one while preparing to add it to the concrete mix during batching.

But There Are Also Substitutes for Silica Dust to Minimize or Eliminate Its Use

You don’t always need to deal with silica dust or with as much of it as you might think. In fact, there are some great silica dust-free alternatives that you can use to keep your worksite just that much safer.

For a Silica Dust-Free, Non-Toxic Concrete Hardener, Look to Hard-Cem

It may be more conventional to harden your concrete with products like dry shake hardeners. But those often come with silica dust.

Luckily, you can eliminate this concern entirely when you use Hard-Cem. It’s free of silica dust. And as the only integral hardening admixture on the market, Hard-Cem has the unique ability to enter a concrete mix directly. Because of that, you don’t need to hire extra labor to apply it or have to worry about it not covering your concrete completely. You just add its dissoluble bag into the concrete mix during batching and let it permeate throughout the concrete. That gives the concrete full-depth hardening and increases its resistance to abrasion and erosion.

In return, you get concrete with double the usual wear life and a much more durable surface. That allows you to minimize the number of repairs or replacements you otherwise might need, which also reduces how much carbon your project emits.

There Are Also Many Other Substitutes for Different Applications

Of course, silica dust doesn’t just help with concrete hardening at times. It also helps with many other construction activities. So what can you substitute silica dust with for those?

While that may not be possible for every activity, you can substitute silica dust in the following activities:

Abrasive blasting — OSHA lists a number of silica dust substitutes for abrasive blasting materials. These include aluminum oxide, baking soda, coal slag, copper slag, and corn cob granules.


Precision grinding — The Workers Health & Safety Centre in Ontario, Canada, notes that grinding (also known as abrasive cutting) in construction can be done without silica dust. Instead of using sandstone grinding wheels, workers can use aluminum oxide wheels.

Two construction workers are working on top of a partially constructed concrete structure.

Silica Dust Doesn’t Have to Be a Problem at Your Worksite

It may feel like it’s everywhere (and in some cases, it certainly can be!). But you don’t have to put up with silica dust all the time. There are ways to not only mitigate its potential for damage but to also remove it entirely. Whether you choose to harden your concrete through Hard-Cem or use other alternatives, you can minimize the silica dust at your worksite, keeping workers safer and your worksite just as, if not more, productive.

Click here to find out why the industry is moving away from surface-applied concrete hardeners.

The post Silica Dust: The Dangers and How You Can Mitigate Them appeared first on Kryton.

How Combining Concrete Admixtures Simplified Aquatera’s Expansion

How Combining Concrete Admixtures Simplified Aquatera’s Expansion

Ever thought about what it takes to keep the water you drink and the water you see outdoors clean? It’s not often considered! But there are companies who work tirelessly to make it all happen. Aquatera is one such company. Since 2003, they’ve acted as the owner and operator of water and wastewater treatment and transmissions systems for the City of Grande Prairie in Alberta, Canada.

Under their direction, Grande Prairie’s citizens have been able to enjoy safe, clean drinking water and ensure that their wastewater returns fully sanitized back to the Wapiti River. It’s a direction that worked for a decade.

However, by 2013, Grande Prairie’s population had grown by more than 18,000 people. While that was great for the area’s economy, it left Aquatera’s plant running at full capacity. If the population grew any further, the plant would not be able to accommodate the increase in demand.

Determined to leave no person without their essential service, Aquatera chose to expand their plant.

Water can be seen being treated in Aquatera's wastewater treatment plant.

quatera’s Expansion Would Involve Multiple Additions to Their Plant

It would also cost a pretty penny! For over $58 million, Aquatera would be able to fully upgrade the plant to include the following:

Two new biological nutrient removal reactors (BNRs)Two new circular secondary clarifier filtersA new centrifuge building

While this upgrade would be expensive, the end result would be priceless. These additions would give Aquatera’s plant two major benefits that would keep it running throughout Grande Prairie’s ongoing growth spurt.

They Would Help the Company Meet Current and Future Regulations

As a company that handles the water and wastewater treatment for a whole city, Aquatera is beholden to a number of rules and best practices. These come in the form of provincial and federal regulations and guidelines. And they also include individual municipal utility bylaws from four shareholders.

Of course, it also means that Aquatera needs to periodically update their system to meet the latest standards. Taking that into account, Aquatera knew they’d need their upgrade to address this. That’s why they chose to add two more BNRs to their plant. Both would allow them to satisfy the needs of Grande Prairie and meet current and future regulations surrounding those needs.

nd They Would Also Increase the Company’s Overall Efficiency

More importantly, all of the additions to Aquatera’s plant would give it the ability to work more efficiently. For instance, the plant would be able to treat 12,000,000 more liters of wastewater a day than it would have before. To put that into perspective, the plant’s original capacity limited the plant to treating 22,000,000 L of wastewater a day. But with the upgrades, the plant would be able to treat up to 34,000,000 L daily.

On top of that, the upgrades would also increase the plant’s sustainability. They would give the plant a longer life span while reducing how much power it consumes and how many greenhouse gases it emits.

Combining this new capacity increase and sustainability enhancement meant that the plant would be able to work in a more eco-friendly manner while having the capacity to serve a growing population.

A civil engineer is holding up blueprints while in snowy weather, determining how they'd want to use their concrete admixtures.

But These Upgrades Came with a Couple of Challenges

While Aquatera was eager to start upgrading, they had to make sure their construction team would be able to complete the project on time while working in Alberta’s harsh wintery conditions.

With that in mind, it was clear to them that working with concrete in such a climate meant they’d need a time-effective solution that could give them both permanently waterproof and highly durable concrete. And this solution would need to be able to handle significantly cold temperatures over the winter season. In short, it would have to be an innovative solution.

They Couldn’t Go with a Conventional Surface-Applied Solution

Traditional solutions like surface-applied concrete waterproofing and hardening products are costly and time-consuming. After all, crews need to be scheduled to handle the application. And that can involve the need to spend more to hire extra workers and expensive equipment. Even if all those costs could be managed, it still means waiting for the workers to finish their manual application.

At the same time, that process adds the risk of application errors. No matter how well trained a manual applicator is, they’re only human. So there’s always a chance that the application will not uniformly cover the concrete. And that could leave weak spots in the finished concrete structure.

If Aquatera wanted their concrete waterproofing and durability solution to be both timely and cost-effective, they would need to look elsewhere.

They’d Also Need to Be Careful of the Weather

No matter what they chose as their solution, the construction team would still have to make sure that it could handle the wintery weather. With surface-applied solutions, that could prove to be difficult. It would double the amount of heating they’d have to worry about after all. Both the solutions themselves and the surrounding ground would need to remain unfrozen. Otherwise, the cold weather would interfere with the process, making the concrete set more slowly. That in turn would make the surface application take even more time. There would even be the possibility of the concrete slab crusting, where only its top part sets.

So, if Aquatera’s upgrade was ever going to happen, the company’s construction team would need a non-surface-applied solution that could handle the cold weather just fine.

Kryton's KIM and Hard-Cem admixtures ready to optimize building space.

To Manage These Obstacles, Aquatera Chose Smart Concrete Solutions

The main challenge for Aquatera was eliminating the difficulties that come with surface-applied products. Luckily, they soon came across Kryton’s Edmonton distributor, Cascade Aqua-Tech Ltd. From there, they were able to secure their very own supply of our integral concrete waterproofing admixture, Krystol Internal Membrane
(KIM), and our integral concrete hardening admixture, Hard-Cem

Using the Concrete Admixtures KIM and Hard-Cem, They Were Able to Ease Their Construction Timeline

Because both KIM and Hard-Cem are integral admixtures, they can be added directly into a concrete mix. That eliminates the need to hire extra labor to apply waterproofing and hardening solutions. There’s also little concern for application errors. Instead, each admixture will permeate throughout the concrete, giving it an even, thorough dose of waterproofing and hardening.

The construction team benefited from this approach, adding the products to the concrete mix to meet the specific needs of the wastewater treatment plan.

For KIM, they started by adding it separately to the following:

Some slabs and retaining walls for the gallery and tunnel raftExposed structural concrete that was covering the first two structuresA raft slab and some compartment walls for the BNRs and circular secondary clarifier filters

That allowed KIM to protect each area from potential chemical attacks as the Krystol technology within the admixture could form interlocking crystals that block out water and waterborne particles and fill up any spaces that either might pass through.

For Hard-Cem, they added it separately to the centrifuge building’s slab-on-grade. That would double the building’s resistance to abrasive and erosive wear so that it could withstand the exposure to chlorides and severe amounts of sulfate from the wastewater treatment process.

And for extra protection for the plant’s steel deck, the construction team added both KIM and Hard-Cem to the concrete mix, giving the deck’s surrounding concrete protection against moisture ingress, chemical attack, and abrasive and erosive wear.

Even When Weather Conditions Worsened, Their Construction Still Went By Relatively Smoothly

Because of how easy it was to apply these concrete admixtures, the construction team was able to diligently and effectively continue their work throughout two snowy winters — even when one winter came with a snowfall that was over 10 ft!

Such weather would have made it harder to work with surface-applied concrete waterproofing and hardening solutions as the solutions themselves would have needed protection from the cold.

But with the instant application of concrete admixtures KIM and Hard-Cem, where they can be directly added to the concrete mix during batching, it made it easy for the construction team to both waterproof and harden their concrete. There was no concern over protecting the admixtures after all. The admixtures would simply go into the mix and provide their benefits while the team could carry on with heating the ground and properly placing and curing their concrete.

Aquatera's worksite rests in the background of the shot, showing a more complete project.

Overall, KIM and Hard-Cem Transformed Aquatera’s Expansion into a Success 

In the end, thanks to the concrete admixtures, KIM and Hard-Cem, Aquatera’s construction team was able to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant within their timeline. It was a successful bit of construction that was only further proven to be so when the upgrades passed every hydrostatic test the team put them through.

Both KIM and Hard-Cem have gone on to contribute to many other success stories like this one. If you want to see more of their work, take a look at our library of case studies.

Download our e-book today to find out why the industry is moving away from surface-applied concrete hardeners.

The post How Combining Concrete Admixtures Simplified Aquatera’s Expansion appeared first on Kryton.

Concrete Monitoring with Maturix®: Frequently Asked Questions

This past year, contractors and precast companies throughout North America got a chance to increase their productivity when it came to concrete monitoring. With the 2020 North American launch of Maturix Smart Concrete Sensors, they could now monitor concrete with fully wireless sensors that can be accessed remotely. All of which made monitoring concrete quicker and much more cost-effective.

The sensors caught a lot of industry interest because of this. Of course, that interest didn’t just come from the North American launch. The sensors were initially launched in Denmark and generated a lot of interest before coming to this continent. Since then, 555 Maturix suitcases have been distributed. With their help, builders were able to create 4,248 precast reports and 6,443 in-situ reports. That went on to improve 861 projects in just one year. (To see just how successful these projects have been, take a look at this interview with one of our clients.)

We’re excited to bring MaturixSensors to the North American market and have been fielding a lot of calls from clients interested in the technology. If you happen to be interested yourself and want to know more, we have created an easy-to-read online guide here for you on the most frequently asked questions about Maturix.

First Off, What Is Maturix?

We’ve shared that Maturix is a type of sensor that wirelessly monitors concrete as it develops. But there’s much more to it than that!

To start, the setup is simple. All the Maturix Sensor needs is a connection with a type K thermocouple wire, which is attached to the rebar within concrete. Once connected, the sensor will immediately start monitoring the concrete’s developing temperature and strength. The data it gains from this monitoring is then transferred wirelessly to a cloud-based platform. That platform will go on to send the data to any connected device a user chooses.

In short, Maturix makes fully remote monitoring possible and offers users a way to determine what exact temperature and strength their concrete has at any time. So contractors don’t have to send someone out to physically retrieve the data. And precast companies can remove the guesswork involved in determining when they should remove formwork. That allows them to save time, cut costs, reduce risks, maintain quality control, improve workflow, and more.

How Does It Work?

So, now, we know what it is and what it does.

But how exactly does Maturix work? How is it able to provide such accurate measurements on concrete temperature and strength?

Well, once it’s plugged into a thermocouple wire that’s embedded into a concrete slab, the Maturix Sensor is able to take the actual core temperature of that slab. Then, it can use that information to calculate the compressive strength of the concrete. To do that, it uses a calibrated maturity curve that’s based on ASTM C1074 — Standard Practice for Estimating Concrete Strength by the Maturity Method.

Many in the industry view this method to be one of the more highly accurate and reliable ones out there as the sensor’s thermocouple wire is embedded into the concrete. That gives the sensor a look at the concrete’s actual conditions. In return, construction workers can get a true reading on the status of their concrete on-site. So they can make better building decisions to reduce project risks.

What Makes It Different from Other Concrete Monitoring Devices Out There?

There are a number of differences that set Maturix apart from other sensors. But the most evident is its reusability. Unlike with most other wireless sensors, you can take the Maturix Sensors you used in a previous project and continue using them in future projects. Even if your future project needs to be done in multiple phases, you can still reuse your sensors after each phase, making Maturix highly efficient.

That’s mainly thanks to how these sensors are designed. The sensors themselves remain outside of the concrete in tough, durable cases. That way, they can stay safe while monitoring concrete at the worksite. At the same time, they’re still able to accurately monitor because they’re connected to thermocouple wires that are embedded in the concrete.

Because of that, the type K thermocouple wires themselves become unusable after one project. However, they are pretty easy to find around the world and can be bought for a reasonable price.

In short, you get to save a lot of money on buying sensors for each project while spending just a little bit to replace their thermocouple wires.

If you were to use other sensors, however, you’d likely have to worry about buying a whole new set of them for each project. There are also other disadvantages to consider too. For instance, sensors that use Bluetooth technology often expire after a single use. They also cannot transmit data from too far a distance, meaning users will still need to go to the worksite to access the data.

Temperature data loggers are not much better. They can be reusable. But their data needs to be manually collected and then manually exported and analyzed. There’s no system to do all that work for you. So it falls on your team to spend more time on that.

What about Data Collection? How Does That Work Differently?

When you use Maturix, you’ll find that once activated, it will transmit concrete monitoring data every 10 minutes. During this process, the data will go from the sensor to a cloud-based platform.

How Can I Access the Data through the Maturix Software?

Once your data is stored in the cloud-based platform, you can access it at any time through a browser on any connected device. You can go with any browser, but we recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

After your user account is set up then, you’ll be able to easily log in to the platform through your preferred browser and access your data. Once there, you’ll be all set to view all the concrete monitoring data you like!

Is There a Limit to the Number of Users Who Can Do the Same?

Not at all! You can invite as many users as you’d like to join your concrete monitoring. That way, you and your team can all see how your concrete develops as it happens in real time.

Is There a Way to Alert Myself and Others to Key Concrete Monitoring Moments?

Yes! Maturix offers an alert system so that the right people are alerted to critical monitoring activities at all times. That ensures everyone gets the right data at the right time, expediting approvals in the process. It also allows you and your team to better prepare for any sudden changes to your concrete’s condition.

Some of the critical activities you can notify yourself and others about include the following:

Concrete temperature going above or below a certain valueTemperature difference, concrete strength, or concrete maturity going above a certain valueA Maturix Sensor not receiving data or being disconnected after a certain time

There’s no limit to how many of these notifications you can create either. So you can add as many or as few as you need to best serve your project.

Is All This Under Warranty?

Yes, these sensors are warrantied for life! All you need to do is maintain your monitoring service subscription, and we’ll continue to provide the best service possible for them.

What If I Have More Questions about Maturix?

This article should give you all the basic information you need to know in order to work with Maturix. But if you still have questions, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources at your disposal. For instance, we have a section on our website that deals with these and other frequently asked questions. You can also contact a representative of ours for a more hands-on approach to learning how to use Maturix.

In short, with Maturix, you not only get the benefits of concrete monitoring data wherever you are, you also get extensive technical support from Kryton.


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Doing Business Virtually: It’s Time to Up Your Game

Doing Business Virtually: It’s Time to Up Your Game

It’s the beginning of a new year full of possibilities for business leaders. We still face many of the same challenges as last year, but with the rollout of vaccines worldwide, we should start to experience more stability in the market.

However, there’s still a ways to go, so how do we continue to adapt and maximize the opportunities in the year ahead?

We heard a lot about how to pivot our business in 2020. Now, we need to consider what that means to us in 2021. To do that, we should look at what’s affected everyone the most and how we can use it to up our game.

A hand is holding a black tablet that shows results from Maturix Sensors monitoring concrete.

Consider the Rising Adoption of Business Technology

Recent reports have shown that the adoption of technology has increased significantly over previous years, with the use of video conferencing technology on its own rising by 35%.

It was no different for us here at Kryton as virtual meetings became a mainstay for our communication. Despite this change in workflow, our team did a great job in responding to our immediate need to conduct business virtually. We held meetings on Zoom, participated in virtual trade shows, hosted online webinars, and increased our presence on the web through social media posts and digital marketing.

While we personally have managed to step up our game in the digital landscape, I know we have only tapped into a small percentage of what’s available to us in virtual communications. And it’s not about adding more systems to the mix. It’s about fully utilizing the systems we now have in place, ensuring our skills keep up with the technology we have.

Every business leader should consider this because according to the World Economic Forum, the gap between technology and skills is getting so broad that we are in a global crisis. Part of it stems from a common conundrum in business where professionals invest in new systems but struggle with adoption.

If you look at this in the context of my favorite sport, golf, it’s like buying a set of clubs and then hitting the links with no training. You’ll manage to get some decent shots once in a while, but your score will be mediocre at best. To take your game to the next level, you need training and practice.

Several people can be seen on a laptop screen, participating in an online meeting, while a green mug of coffee sits to the left of the laptop.

That May Mean Working with Video Conferencing Technology More Often

With the global workforce moving to a work-from-home model and more meetings being held online, remote tools, like video conferencing, have become an essential component of the modern business world. That hasn’t always been easy for most of us, I imagine. But through trial and error, our team at Kryton has learned some of the best practices that all of us can apply when using video conferencing technology.

To Start, You’ll Want to Mitigate Potential Technical Difficulties

You don’t want to have to delay a meeting with an important client just because your video conferencing system isn’t working properly. Solving technical difficulties can take up valuable time, so it’s best if you make sure the technology can run smoothly before you head to the meeting. That includes checking your Internet connection, software, camera, microphone, and other technical devices for any issues. You’ll also want to log in early, if possible, so you have the time to troubleshoot. It’s especially critical to do that if you’re the host as that ensures your meeting will start on time.

Stay on Mute When You’re Not Talking

Most microphones can pick up minor background noises like typing and coughing. These sounds can easily distract other video conferencing participants and potentially even cause annoyance. So make sure you mute yourself when you’re not taking part in the conversation.

nd Ensure You Treat These Meetings as If You Were There in Person

While it’s easy to get distracted with checking your inbox and browsing online during a video conference, you probably shouldn’t. Treat it as though you are attending a meeting in person. Also, look into the camera instead of the computer monitor when you speak so you appear to be looking directly at the person.

There are many more tips to consider for video conferencing, but the key takeaway is to treat it like it’s a meeting in person. For instance, being on time, dressing properly, and paying attention are all expected for in-person meetings, and it’s no different for remote ones. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would do the same thing if you were in a physical meeting.

Positive statistics are shown on the screen of a laptop that is sitting on a shiny desk in an office.

Don’t Let Technical Difficulties Hold You Back

It’s typical for users to only learn as much as it takes to achieve the meeting, but not go on to become proficient with the tool. This can be a big mistake and missed opportunity. I’m encouraging my team to go pro and master the skills needed to fully benefit from these communication tools. And I encourage all business leaders to do the same. Don’t let your technology hold you back or limit you in any way. As a business owner, consider the time and training needed for your employees to learn new systems. Training sessions, peer groups, manuals, and briefing documents can all support the adoption of new technology. As a user, commit to taking the time to practice and learn. This will benefit you now and in the long run as virtual communication becomes a permanent part of the business landscape.

The post Doing Business Virtually: It’s Time to Up Your Game appeared first on Kryton.

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Sustainable Architecture and Concrete: Why They Can Work Well Together

Sustainable Architecture and Concrete: Why They Can Work Well Together

Sustainable architecture and concrete are not always considered compatible. After all, the production of concrete is known as the cause for at least 8% of the world’s carbon emissions. It’s why many concrete producers nowadays are creating their own low-carbon concrete mixes. And it’s also why some architects are hesitant about their use of concrete.

That is especially the case now as the effects of climate change advance. With this progression, people are seeing an increase in severe storms and heat waves. They’re also seeing a significant rise in temperature in the Arctic. It’s warming up two-and-a-half times faster than any other region on the planet. To better visualize this, consider that the New York Times has noted the average air temperatures in 2019 for the world were around 3.5°F (1.9°C) higher than the average temperatures found from 1981–2010. Because of this, the Arctic’s ice is melting away, leaving behind more ocean to absorb sunlight and radiate more heat. All of which heats up the rest of the planet that much more.

In response to this, many architects have felt a stronger need to incorporate sustainability into their work. For instance, a number of architects have chosen to solely work with clients who are aiming to build to net-zero energy standards. Though, not all such sustainability efforts have been this recent in the world of architects. The American Institute of Architects itself has had a commitment to sustainability for as long as 1971. And architects have only been increasing their focus on this commitment to sustainable architecture ever since.

With their concerns over the state of the climate, architects have become a little wary about using concrete. However, concrete remains an incredibly common building material. And there’s good reason for that. Whatever you think of it personally, concrete has much to offer sustainable architecture!

An ICF wall lays almost complete at a worksite to help create sustainable architecture.

For One, Concrete Can Create One of the Most Energy-Efficient Walls Available

Known as insulated concrete form (ICF) walls, these structures are considered to be one of the most energy-efficient forms available. In fact, according to Concrete Construction, back in 2009, ICF walls were what gave Beverly Stevenart, the co-owner of Craftsman Homes & Design, in Colorado from the United States of America (USA), a way to construct a net-zero energy home. They’re also a form that the New York City-based Curtis + Ginsberg Architects have frequently used over the years to great effect in a number of projects. These include the Calvert Lancaster building on Lexington Avenue, which earned a silver certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. They’ve also achieved multiple other LEED and passive house certifications with their ICF construction.

ICFs have not just been benefitting sustainable architecture in the USA, though. While places outside North America focus a little less on ICF construction, it still plays a big part in Europe and is gaining traction in regions like Asia, South America, and the Middle East.

But how does it work?

Well, let’s look at how ICFs are made first. At the start, they’re molded from either expanded or extruded polystyrene. This mold then typically takes on the form of lightweight open-cell concrete blocks or panels. These then act as the forms for poured concrete (which can be for above or below grade walls). The end result is a number of walls that combine the benefits of concrete and integral insulation. From concrete, the walls gain a decent amount of thermal mass and strength. And from the integral insulation, the walls receive a number of energy-saving benefits. All of which makes them highly energy efficient and even more thermally efficient than traditional wood-framed assemblies.

These Happen to Manage Temperature Well and in Different Climates

That is great news for architects looking to cut down on energy loss for their sustainable architecture. With the thermal efficiency of ICF exterior walls, they can create a design that uses less energy to cool down and warm up compared to wood-framed houses. Based on estimates from the home performance magazine Home Energy, that equates to ICF exterior walls cooling down with around 32% less energy and warming up with 44% less energy than a wood-framed house would. The estimated savings for this amounted to an average of $200 a year.

Of course, the average energy saved in all this does depend a bit on the surrounding climate. For colder areas in North America, the buildings might save more on heating than cooling. The reverse can be said for warmer areas.

Still, no matter the climate, the ICF walls will still provide energy savings. To confirm this and compare the performance to code-matching and wood-framed homes, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) conducted a study. For this study, they looked at the performance of homes in several cities across the USA. These were Chicago, Miami, Phoenix, Seattle, and Washington D.C. After observing each location, the PCA noted that the homes with ICF walls saved significantly on energy. Compared to code-matching homes, the ICF-constructed ones used 8% to 19% less energy. And compared to wood-framed homes, they used 5% to 9% less energy. On top of that, they even exceeded the requirements from the International Energy Conservation Code.

What’s more, ICF walls can also absorb the temperature swings of any climate. This is mainly thanks to their concrete thermal mass, which allows them to absorb heat. In turn, this heat can help them regulate the internal temperature of a building. So, for instance, if the building is in a desert, its ICF walls will absorb the day’s heat. Then, by the time it becomes freezing at night, the heat from the concrete will still keep the interior’s temperature relatively warm and stable.

nd They Provide a Tight Design That Allows for More Cost-Effective HVAC Systems

ICF walls aren’t just great for dealing with energy loss and temperatures. They also provide a tighter fitting design, which works well for energy efficiency in other areas. One area in particular is structural leaks. With the tight design of ICF walls, there’s less room for air leakages and outside air infiltration. Confirming this fact, one PCA study noted that ICF walls had an air leakage rate of 0.15 air changes per hour, while wood-framed homes had 0.78 air changes per hour.

To add to that, the design of ICF walls allow for smaller and more affordable HVAC systems. Because ICF construction doesn’t need as much HVAC energy, construction teams can choose a more compact and affordable setup. That also allows them to save around $500–$2,000 per home while still supporting sustainable architecture.

Two engineers with hard hats and safety vests on are looking at a blueprint that's spread out on a table.

Those Aren’t the Only Benefits They Provide Either

They also come with the following advantages for sustainable architecture over other walls like wood-framed ones:

Better fire resistance — According to research done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ICF walls offer some of the best fire resistance available. For instance, they can endure fires at extreme levels for up to four hours, while wood-framed walls generally do not last more than a one-hour fire rating. This is because concrete is not an organic material that would fuel a fire. So unlike wood, which can contribute to fire growth, concrete can avoid exacerbating it while resisting damage at the same time.


Increased durability — Known to be a long-lasting material, concrete has gotten this reputation due to its ability to resist wear and tear, severe weather, rot, insects, and fire. And the ICF walls that concrete can create can do the same while also resisting moisture. Likewise, wood-framed walls can have a similar form of resistance from environmental factors when placed in the interior of a building. However, as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development notes, they are still vulnerable to rotting if water manages to get into the building. They’re also vulnerable to termite attacks, which can cause a fair bit of structural damage.


Stronger noise control — The publication Construction Canada suggests that ICF walls may even provide up to 40% lower sound transmission compared to wood-framed walls. Backing up that idea, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s study states that a typical wood wall may have a sound transmission class (STC) rating of 35 to 49, while ICF walls will have a rating of 48 to 58. So the sound of shouting could likely be heard through the wood-framed walls, but less so for ICF walls. Of course, there is also the option of using enhanced wood walls as well, which doesn’t quite reach the STC ratings of ICF walls. But it gets pretty close, hitting the 50 to 54 STC rating. Still, for the best noise control, ICF walls offer the better bet.


Fewer potential insurance concerns — Depending on the region, building owners may also deal with fewer insurance concerns if their structure uses concrete materials. In Vancouver, Canada, for example, GLOBE Advisors underwent research to compare the insurance costs between mid-rise wood-framed buildings and concrete residential buildings. The end results of that research showed that while there is a risk of water damage to concrete buildings, generally that damage is easier to find and resolve compared to the damage found in mid-rise wood-framed buildings. With wood construction, moisture concerns are harder to detect so they can fester for years, and if they’re not found in time, they can render a building uninhabitable. Additionally, wood-framed buildings come with a higher risk of fire and mold compared to concrete buildings. All of which can lead to higher insurance rates as insurance companies want to deal with as little risk as possible.

Several construction workers in hard hats and safety vests are pouring concrete at a worksite to create sustainable architecture.

Of Course, Concrete on Its Own Has a Number of Sustainable Traits

Concrete isn’t just a way for architects to build energy-efficient ICF walls with benefits. It’s also a material that comes with its own sustainable traits.

For One, It’s Quite Versatile, Allowing It to Fulfill a Variety of Design Needs

With this versatile nature, concrete makes a project design that much easier to complete. It allows builders to choose what type of consistency it’ll have, how it’ll flow, what setting times it’ll have, and which hardened properties it’ll use.

They can even affect each of these aspects while adding beneficial qualities through the use of admixtures.  So if they want to avoid petroleum-based waterproofing membranes, they can directly add an admixture like the Krystol Internal Membrane
(KIM to a concrete mix. That allows them to make the concrete inherently and permanently waterproof without the need for toxic elements or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). KIM will also protect the reinforcement from corrosion, which can extend the structure’s life cycle and reduce future maintenance expenses.

The same goes for when they want to enhance the concrete’s durability against abrasion. They can replace dry shake hardeners and sealers, which can expose workers to silica dust and VOCs, with the durability admixture Hard-Cem. Adding it directly to a concrete mix gives the concrete a high resistance to both abrasion and erosion, doubling its life span.

All of which makes it possible to use concrete in a wide variety of applications while ensuring the structures they form remain functional now and in the future. After all, concrete represents an investment, and it is critical to ensure that investment will last. Admixtures make this possible while adding more benefits and reducing the amount of carbon pollutants that are emitted throughout the building’s life cycle.

On Top of That, Concrete Is Reusable

Even if a concrete project is eventually set for demolition, it is still possible to reuse it! That remains the case even if the concrete has rebar within it. That’s because workers can separate the rebar from the concrete with large magnets to be reused for future projects. And they can then crush the concrete into fragments of varying sizes. These fragments can then help create the following:

Pavement for walkways and drivewaysBed foundation material for trenchesLandscaping mulchFill for wire cagesOceanic reef habitats

Most significantly, though, they can act as replacement for aggregate in concrete mixes. That helps builders reduce the amount of gravel and sand extraction needed. And that in turn is better for sustainability as it lowers the amount of resource extraction that occurs in construction.

Of course, it’s important to note that this sort of reusability only works for concrete with no contaminating substances. After all, concrete with calcium sulfate, chlorides, oils, or surface-applied membranes can render the concrete unsuitable for reuse, meaning it ends up in a landfill.

But concrete without those concerns, from start to finish, can be a great ally to sustainable architecture. While it can also be a carbon-intensive material, the construction industry has been hard at work producing better alternatives. From that mindset, we’ve come up with energy-efficient ICF walls, admixtures that reduce carbon emissions, and ways to reuse concrete. So for worried architects, using concrete does not have to be a cause for concern. In fact, it could aid you in your design for a greener, more sustainable building.

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Pantone’s Colors for 2021 and What That Means for Architecture

Pantone’s Colors for 2021 and What That Means for Architecture

In December of last year, the world got to see Pantone’s colors for 2021 for the first time. Since 1999, Pantone has been choosing a color of the year, subsequently inspiring architects, advertisers, and designers across the globe. However, this year was a little different. Pantone, for the second time ever, chose to go with two colors instead of one. But what intrigued those of us at Kryton more was that their chosen colors represented Kryton’s own colors of yellow and gray.

When Kryton chose those colors for rebranding, it was not just to capture interest with the eye-catching highlight of yellow against gray. It was also to give people that feeling of reliability and strength that construction so often reflects through the safety of yellow hard hats and the durability of gray concrete foundation. (You can easily see this theme run throughout our website and our blog.)

Pantone clearly had a similar train of thought for the colors. On their website, they mentioned that people feel the need to know that better times will come. And that’s why they chose yellow and gray. Both colors provide a feeling of stability, with yellow bringing a sense of warmth and optimism and gray adding a practical, rock-solid side.

We’re not the only ones who recognized the appeal of these colors either. A number of architect publications have published articles on the colors for 2021, including the Architectural Digest.

Does that mean that Pantone’s colors have an impact on architecture? While color selection is not the first or only focus for an architect, we here at Kryton believe that there may be good reason to give it its 15 (or more!) minutes of fame.

An architect is drafting a new building design with a pencil in their right hand and a ruler nearby.

It’s True That Colors Aren’t Usually an Architect’s Main Concern

As an associate of Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd. points out, color, more specifically, exterior color, has always been a part of architecture, but its role has been particularly small. He goes on to mention that even empirical research on exterior color is limited with ambiguous results to show for it. An author from ArchDaily makes it even clearer that color in general is something that some architects tend to be wary of. And even the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards suggests that architects and architectural schools seem to avoid focusing on it as a topic.

But why is that?

Well, all three sources suggest a number of reasons.

For instance, the author from ArchDaily mentions that architectural instructors often teach architects to focus more on architectural elements like form, space, and materials. After all, as he suggests, it’s easier for the owner of a building to give the structure a new color than it is to fix anything structural like placement.

Not to mention, the choice of color can be a highly subjective one. As the architectural consultant and author Frank Mahnke puts it, it “is a sensory perception, and as any sensory perception, it has effects that are symbolic, associative, synesthetic, and emotional.” Each of those effects is going to be somewhat different based on the person viewing the color and what cultural associations they assign to it. That can make it difficult for an architect to defend their choice. So it might be easier to stick to the more popular exposed finishes.

And in the case of exterior colors, there is another practical reason to keep them less colorful. Outdoor environments can cause a lot of wear and tear, making exterior colors fade. Depending on the shade of color, that fading can be very obvious. In light of that, architects prefer to use durable materials like concrete blocks, bricks, or terracotta that can withstand the wear. These materials also happen to come in colors that don’t show any obvious fading, such as gray, beige, and other earthy shades.

A workperson is painting yellow over a white wall with ragged gray coloring at the top.

But Colors Can Significantly Impact a Building’s Design

Despite all the challenges of working with color, it can still be a highly effective design tool. In fact, with the right strategy, the use of color in architecture can help turn a building into an architectural icon, positively impacting the perception people have of the building and its design.

To See Why, Let’s Dive a Little into Color Psychology

According to a literature review conducted by the Cyprus International University and Zedrock and Herman Architecture, it’s true that a single color can be interpreted in a variety of ways. For instance, people in China might associate white with sadness due to its use during their mourning periods. At the same time, many Europeans will view it as a color for purity and cleanliness. In short, color will always have a subjective quality that may make some architects hesitant about the reception of their chosen color.

However, the literature review also notes that there is a more universal and psychological aspect to color. Known as color psychology, it is considered to be the result of how the electro-magnetic radiation of light affects the moods and behaviors of all people in a similar manner.

It does this by affecting a specific part of the brain in people known as the hypothalamus. To do that, light first enters a person’s eyes. The retinas within those eyes then convert the light into electric signals, which the hypothalamus goes on to interpret.

That can significantly affect how a person physically reacts to seeing certain colors as the hypothalamus is in charge of a number of important bodily functions. These functions include the ability to change body temperature, appetite, sleep, and behavior. As a result, color not only derives a personal response from someone. It also derives a physical response.

And it’s a response that is generally similar across all cultures, ages, and genders. So if architects take care to keep that in mind, they could design a building that is not only visually pleasing but also physically comforting.

With This Tool at Their Disposal, Architects Can Change How People React to a Building with Just Colors

Of course, architects first need to have an idea of what effects certain colors bring. Consider the impact of the following colors:

Red — As a color with the longest light wavelength, red tends to be seen as a strong, attention-grabbing color. And that intensity can generate a fair amount of stimulation. In fact, in some cases, the color can be so stimulating that it will activate a person’s fight or flight instinct or increase their blood pressure. As a result, many people consider it to be a color for strength, energy, warmth, and even aggression.


Yellow — Considered to be one of the most psychologically strong colors, yellow is often perceived as optimistic and positive no matter the shade. For instance, a light pastel yellow will give off a childlike feel. Canary yellow is seen as more delicate and soft. And ambered yellow radiates a calmer, warmer feel.


Green — A color with a lower light wavelength, green contrasts red by appearing more emotionally calming. One researcher suggests that shades like green are particularly relaxing because they reflect color found in nature. It is also useful in helping people become accustomed to new areas. However, depending on its use, green can also be seen as too bland or demoralizing.


Blue — Much like green, blue is a color with a low light wavelength and is also seen as relaxing. There has even been some evidence that it can lower blood pressure.

Depending on the intensity of a single color like those previously mentioned or a combination of multiple colors applied to the inside or outside of a building, visitors may find themselves feeling varying degrees of stimulation.

They Can Even Provoke Both Positive and Negative Physical Reactions

If visitors see an individual color that is overly saturated, a color combination with too many colors, or one with too few that don’t match well, they’ll likely feel overstimulated. In turn, that can cause a number of symptoms, including:

Changes in breathingAn increase in pulse rateHigher blood pressureMore muscle tensionA possible rise in susceptibility to infection

On the other hand, if visitors see a less saturated color or color contrast, monochromatic color combinations, achromatic colors, or a monotonous color contrast, they’ll probably feel understimulated. When that happens, visitors are more likely to feel the following:

RestlessIrritableExcessively emotionalDistracted

It takes a particular balance of saturation and color combination to evoke the desired reaction in a person. But it’s not an impossible task! In fact, back in 2007, the University of Texas already discovered that depending on how sensitive a person is to their environment, certain colors could help improve their work performance. For those moderately sensitive to their environment, a blue-green interior seemed to boost their performance the best. White and red interiors were less impactful. At the same time, those who were less sensitive to their environment were able to work in any of the colored interiors with little issue.

Three white question marks within a gray circle rest over a background that diagonally splits a yellow and gray color.

So, Where Do Pantone’s Colors for 2021 Fit into All of This?

Pantone doesn’t just arbitrarily choose their color for each year. There’s actually a fair amount of observation that goes into it. They know how color psychology plays an important role in a color’s reception. It’s also clear that they know how much meaning people assign to these colors. After all, there is never one color that they popularize each year. So they look to color psychology while observing industry color trends to explain the popularity of each year’s different color.

But how do they do they go about it?

They Lay Out Which Colors Are Attracting the Most Attention in a Given Year

According to Pantone’s executive director, Leatrice Eiseman, the fashion industry is often the first indicator of popularity for certain colors. However, Pantone doesn’t just observe that industry. They also look at the colors found in films, cars, art, and many other areas. Employees for the company also travel around the world to places like Milan, Paris, New York, and Dubai to see the most popular colors found there.

Eventually, they all meet up to discuss what they’ve observed. Then, they try to narrow down which color seems to attract the most attention overall.

Of course, this process isn’t perfectly accurate. After all, in 2013, their choice of emerald green was a love-hate one. Not everyone really agreed with it, but there was still an overall positive response surrounding the color. So Pantone still offers a way to get a good feel for an almost universally appealing shade of color.

That Can Give Architects Insight into How to Design with Colors

Pantone doesn’t just make a choice that reflects overall sentiment on color. As a company that holds some global authority on color, Pantone can affect how others see certain colors. So the company’s color of the year can influence how consumer products are designed for that year and many years later.

With that in mind, architects may see their own clients request or find interest in the use of Pantone’s chosen colors. For example, ArchDaily published an article in 2020 already showing a number of architectural projects reflecting Pantone’s colors for 2021.

So while color trends can be fickle, they can also lead the way to satisfied clients and increased recognition.

They’re an innovative tool that has much to offer to architects. And as ardent supporters of such innovation, we here at Kryton want to make sure architects can use that tool and more to the best of their ability. That’s why we work with architects and builders to determine what Smart Concrete solutions work for their design needs. So if you’re looking to add color to the mix and worry about maintaining the integrity of your concrete structure, our admixtures offer a great solution for either colored or painted concrete. See for yourself, and discover how we can help you add a little color and more to your project!

Click here to earn AIA credits online with Kryton's AIA-approved courses.

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How to Avoid Concrete Failure

How to Avoid Concrete Failure

While concrete is extremely strong, it can also be very brittle if it’s not properly mixed and cured. Concrete failure can occur in a variety of ways because of the versatility of this material and all of its applications.

Each type of failure is different and has its own causes and solutions. It’s important to understand how these common types of failures occur so that your project is not negatively affected.

Keep reading to learn 5 tips for preventing concrete failure.

1. Avoid trapped air 

Trapped air bubbles in concrete can cause it to fail. Concrete is a mixture of gravel, sand, and cement (among other ingredients), and when this mix gets poured into forms or molds, trapped air bubbles can form. 

These bubbles result in weak spots that aren’t able to handle pressure.

To avoid trapped air when mixing concrete, ideally, you should hire a professional with a mixer truck rather than attempting to mix and pour on your own. 

When mixing on your own, you risk adding too much water to the mix or mixing it for too long. This can cause small cracks and fissures which will leave your concrete vulnerable as well. 

2. Don’t overload concrete forms

Overloading concrete is another common cause of concrete failure. While concrete is one of the strongest materials on the planet, different types have different limits. For example, reinforced concrete should be used if you anticipate supporting a large weight or structure.

Unfortunately, some cheap contractors like to cut corners here by using the wrong type of concrete to complete the job faster. Then, once heavy loads are placed on the concrete, it cracks.

3. Always use good quality raw materials

Using good quality raw materials is another way to avoid concrete failure. This goes for both the sand and gravel used in your mix as well as the cement itself.

If you’re not using a reputable supplier, there’s no telling what sorts of additives they may be including in their products (or if any at all). 

For example, recycled or fly ash cement can sometimes be used in place of traditional Portland cement. While this is cheaper, it also has a shorter lifespan and may not meet the standards you’re looking for.

The same goes for sand or gravel that doesn’t measure up to your specifications. If it’s too coarse, the concrete mix won’t have enough cohesion between particles which can cause the material to crumble.

If you want strong, durable, and long-lasting concrete, always make sure to use a reputable contractor and supplier for raw materials.

4. Use water treated with low levels of dissolved sulphate

Using water with low levels of dissolved sulphate is another way to avoid concrete failure. You see, metal ions (especially iron or steel) can lead to the formation of rust within your concrete mix which will make it vulnerable and prone to cracking.

The easiest thing you can do here is use deionized water in place of tap water. If this isn’t available, try to use water with low levels of dissolved sulphate. This will prevent the metal ions from being deposited into your concrete mix which will result in a stronger material overall.

5. Don’t use high-silica aggregates in areas with high humidity

If you’re using high-silica aggregates in areas with high humidity, you may run into concrete failure. This is because the aggregates will absorb moisture from the air, leading to cracks within your material over time.

For example, if you’re creating a sidewalk or patio in a high-humidity area like Louisiana, and you use this sort of aggregate without a waterproof coating, you may be in for a rude awakening.

6. Hire the professionals

Concrete failure is expensive. The best way to avoid it is by hiring the professionals at Port Aggregates.

At PAI, our professional concrete contractors are skilled in creating bubble-free, high-quality pours in high-humidity areas like Louisiana.  We use only the best quality materials for our mixes and never cut corners to save money or time. 

Contact us today to request a quote for your next residential or commercial project!

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