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Tasmania 7010 Australia
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Keeping you informed about the TecEco cement and kiln projects.   Issue 26,   14th April 2003

New Business Plan on the Web Site

TecEco have uploaded a new business plan to the web site. Announcing the new Confidential Business Memorandum, TecEco managing director John Harrison said that it was essential the company raise funds for research as soon as possible as it was the start of the academic year, and the company wanted to fund a number of students to develop the knowledge base about the new cement science and initiate an Australian government funded R and D program. John said that research was essential in order to convince highly conservative engineers of the advantages of the new binders.

According to John, the reason for the re-write was two fold. To bring the plan up to date and because new focus for product development had emerged. An example of this was the previously under recognized excellent rheology of TecEco modified Portland cements that had only become evident when large masses were recently poured. As a result of the excellent physical properties of a fresh mix it was possible to without plasticisers reduce the water cement ratio and achieve higher density and strength. This meant that gunnites. shotcretes and other materials in which rheology was important had to be considered. Another new research direction was into the use of TecEco cements with organic fibers as they were not affected by low molecular weight organic compounds in the same was as Portland cements.

John said it was time that industry started supporting research into the new concretes, and welcomed the initiative of the Centre for Concrete Construction, part of the British Building Research Establishment who have recently initiated a research program.

John said that he was slowly putting in place strategic alliances, but those who, having been offered the opportunity, sat back and did nothing would not be considered for licences.

Welcome New TecEco Team Members

Greg Longman B.Sc. (Hons.) MBA (Melbourne Representative)

Greg has a bachelor of science with honours and is a qualified engineer. He also has a graduate diploma of business administration from Swinburne University of Technology and an MBA from Monash University. As Greg has had several years project management and concrete industry experience and an interest in sustainability issues an association with him will prove invaluable to TecEco. He is currently our representative in Melbourne and will be involved in many aspects of our development including fund raising and sub projects.

Leon Burgess Dean Ph.D (Researcher)

Dr Leon Burgess Dean is a materials scientist from Deakin University in Geelong who is currently studying for an MBA, lecturing part time and undertaking research work on a part time basis for TecEco Pty. Ltd.

TecEco Cements Reducing Wastes

Originally the built environment was much more recyclable, wattle and daub, mud brick and stone were all reused. With the coming of the industrial revolution and aluminium, steel and concrete this was no longer the case

According to the Australian Federal department of Industry Science and Tourism [1] buildings are responsible for some 30 % of the raw materials we use, 42 % of the energy, 25% of water used, 12% of land use, 40% of atmospheric emissions, 20% of water effluents, 25% of solid waste and 13% of other releases [2].

The building and demolition waste stream can be broken into three basic categories:

Wood- makes up about 25-40 percent of BandD waste stream.

Rubble (concrete, cinder block, stone, clay brick and soil) and asphalt- makes up about half of the BandD waste stream.

Other materials (metals, gypsum wallboard, asphalt roofing material, plastic, paper, and glass) - make up the remainder of the waste stream.

Experts claim that 90 percent of this waste could be eliminated by reducing waste production and by recycling, depending on local market conditions for the materials.

It is time that materials had designed into them more than one lifetime and that is exactly what TecEco have done.

In Europe, manufacturers now have to accept back their own products at the end of their lifetime and this is making them think very much about their recyclability.

TecEco cements and concretes can be recycled back into raw materials, TecEco packaging into beneficial mulch. They can also utilize other fibrous wastes such as wood waste currently burnt for additional strength.

TecEco Packaging – An Example of Engineered After Use

The level of domestic recycling has increased by several orders of magnitude in the past few years and in recent times there has even been a reduction in landfill. Our enthusiasm for recycling and lack of products and packaging that can easily be recycled has led to a stockpile causing the price for recycled materials to fall. Without taking into affect the environmental costs of dumping it is now costing around 100 million dollars more to recycle waste than to dump it.

The problem is that it costs money to recycle. Why then do manufacturers continue to make products and packaging that cannot be reused or recycled, or which are difficult and expensive to recycle?

Packaging has tremendous potential for improvements in sustainability and reducing pollution and materials developed for packaging should as much as possible be made utilising wastes and designed with an end use in mind.

The deficiencies of existing packaging materials have been recognised by many authorities and the Germans, who control much of European transport, have recently banned the styrene box used for exporting fish and vegetable products.

Magnesium is a light metal and its minerals such as brucite, magnesite and hydromagnesite contained in TecEco cements are also light. As a consequence products such as boxes made substantially with lightweight wastes such as wood fibre, fly and bottom ash could also be very light.

In 1867 Stanislas Sorel noted that magnesium oxychloride cements have a remarkable capacity to bond with and contain other materials. This outstanding capacity is also a feature of TecEco cements and applies to wood and other lignocellulosic materials.

The addition of fibres such as from waste wood can add tremendous tensile strength essential for packaging to contain goods. In the past the main problem of using lignocellulosic materials with cement to manufacture composites has been retardation of setting times. The alkalinity of Portland cement facilitates the dissolution of wood constituents, particularly relatively low molecular weight carbohydrates such as sugars and heartwood extractives, many of which retard the hydration reaction.

TecEco Eco-Cements are not affected in the same way. Strength also comes through the hydration of magnesia and subsequent carbonation which is not adversely affected.

An early objective of TecEco is to therefore produce waterproof packaging with high heat (or cold) capacity, low weight, and insulating properties. It is proposed to use a block machine to press out a box made substantially of wood fibre waste, fly and bottom ash and other lightweight wastes bonded with Eco-Cement. A machine with a very large work area is consequently being sought all over the world.

Boxes made in the above manner could have engineered after use as a mulch with the right Al/Si/Fe/Ca/Mg and N/P/K ratios and simply be crushed to become fertilizer/mulch or alternatively sold into the nursery trade as a planter box.

Other packaging products including pallets reinforced with Tech tendons [3]   are also contemplated.

Now The Bushfires are Over

The use of substantial quantities of combustible materials in buildings does not make sense – it never has. Maybe our trees are better off left standing putting carbon slowly back in the ground where it belongs and we should be cutting them down only for decorative work, furniture and the like and not for framing and other than decorative paneling. TecEco run as close to a paperless office as is possible – why can’t we all?

In TecEco Eco-Cements used in products such as renders, mortars, bricks, blocks and pavers, as in other TecEco cements, magnesia hydrates forming brucite, but this carbonates, mainly because of the permeable nature of many of the products, forming magnesite and hydromagnesite,. Magnesite starts to decompose at around 450 deg C, a much lower temperature than portlandite and this property makes Eco-Cements excellent fire retarding materials. (editors note: We have since determined that the main carbonate is nesquehonite)

Recent bushfires in the USA and Australia have demonstrated the fire vulnerability of existing building methods as have fires in large office buildings. TecEco plan to continuously make potential backers and licensees aware of the fire retarding properties of TecEco cement materials.

It makes sense to make fibre cement beams and panels as much as possible using waste rather than virgin cut timber.

A research agreement is being negotiated with AeRock LLC, an American start up company with a process for extruding fibre cement products that look like timber.

Figure 1 - DeckRock by AeRock LLC

Initially, AeRock will be focusing on decking for residential and commercial patios.  Their DeckRock splinter free, fibre-cement deck product is extremely strong, maintenance free, won’t burn, rot, split, peel or sag, and is priced to be competitive with wood decking as well as other alternative decking materials.

By using an Eco-Cement binder fire retardant properties and greater sustainability can be added to the long list of credentials.

Kiln Progress

Interest in the new kiln in which calcining and grinding occur in the same vessel has been shown by B and L Tetlow P/L, Australian kiln makers. Tetlows have joined the kiln team and their experience with laboratory and pottery kilns and control systems will be very useful.

Australia's National Research Priorities  www.dest.gov.au/priorities/default.htm

On the 5th December 2002 John Howard announced four national research priorities intended to provide a vision for research by focusing research effort on key challenges for Australia today and into the future:

  1. An Environmentally Sustainable Australia;
  2. Promoting and Maintaining Good Health;
  3. Frontier Technologies for Building and Transforming Australian Industries; and
  4. Safeguarding Australia.

TecEco wonders what all this rhetoric means for the company as it has the most important sustainable technology in the world.

Heat Capacity

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a mineral that stored as much energy as water!

In the table below rho is the density, c is the specific heat, "water volume ratio" is the volume of the material required to store the same amount of heat as an equal volume of water, "water weight ratio" is the weight of material required to hold the same heat as an equal weight of water.




















common building brick





solid concrete 1-2-4 mix





solid granite





solid sandstone





solid limestone





limestone stones, 35% air





granite stones, 35% air





concrete stringer blocks,8x16, 42 lbs





Data source: Schaum's Outline of Heat Transfer,

second edition.

Thought For The Day

Noted author Peter Drucker once asked, "In a rapidly changing business climate, what can you count on?" His answer: "Those trends that won’t go away."

Sustainability is one of those trends…

It's fast moving

It's global, and

It's impacting right now...

[1] Australian Federal department of Industry Science and Tourism, Environmental and Economic Life Cycle Costs of Construction, 1998 - Detailed Discussion Paper, (section 2 - page 8)

[2] The reference given by Industry Science and Tourism was Worldwatch paper 124 How Ecology and Health Concerns Are Transforming Construction Worldwatch Paper 124 by David Malin Roodman and Nicholas Lenssen

[3] Tech Tendons have been patented by a shareholder company Tendon Tech Pty. Ltd. are made of high tensile steel strapping with a pattern applied to improve bond.