The Silicon Review
Concrete manufacturing has contributed heavily to the growth of several segments, and it has proven to be one of the best construction materials. However, cement production, which is forming the binding matrix in the concrete, is associated with high levels of CO2 emissions. In the fast-paced world we live in, people are increasingly worried about the environment and are looking out for more eco-friendly alternatives to concrete. Modern researchers are heavily focused on developing an alternative binding material to traditional cement because it emits huge amounts of greenhouse gases, environmental hazards, and high energy consumption. Demand for cement-based materials is high globally, and people now prefer green buildings to promote sustainability.
Globally there are various companies working on delivering eco-friendly alternatives to the construction segment, but Primekss Group stands out from the rest. Founded in 1997 and led by CEO Janis Oslejs. Primekss provides PrīmX®, a patented composite concrete system for making ecologically friendly concrete solutions. It is used to design industrial flooring slabs for logistic centers, warehouses, civil engineering buildings, water and LNG tanks, windmills, and other structures. PrīmX concrete is a composite material, a mix of specific steel fibers in concrete. The concrete matrix has been modified to expand during hardening, with the expansion putting concrete in self-compression. Any applied tensile load first has to overcome that self-compression, thus ofhighly increasing the tensile capacity of PrīmX compared to traditional concrete. The expansion also pushes cracks together, allowing us to cast large concrete fields without any joints. For the technology to happen, Primekss had to master mixing of steel fibers in concrete, the composition of concrete, admixtures to enable expansion quality and, given that the concrete had to be cast all around the world, in most diverse places with differing industrial discipline - a sophisticated online control system of concrete suppliers and our own crews, as well as a host of special machinery to enable the process. The first PrīmX project was built in 2009. It was a joint-free floor for a logistics facility in Kouvola, Finland, followed by many other projects in Northern Europe and then across the world.
In conversation with Janis Oslejs, CEO of Primekss Group
Q. What was your motivation behind developing unique composite concrete technology?
Concrete is one of the biggest industrial polluters and a technology that has changed little for centuries. As a concrete flooring contractor, we were facing multiple quality issues - cracking, unseemly and expensive to maintain joints were just some of the recurring issues. On a personal scale, it was not a nice feeling working in an industry labeled as the biggest industrial CO2 polluter. We also faced customers with advanced demands that wanted better, but existing concrete technology was helpless. They were not happy that concrete floors required constant maintenance, slowed down, and damaged their equipment, driving over bumpy joints, whilst forklift operators developed lower back pain from vibration. Neither were we, casting industrial floors that were simply far from perfect. That there must be a better way forward as evidenced by other industries, as all around us, we saw the development of modern, better materials, including use of composites in many industries. And so we asked why concrete has to stay the same?
We had a vision of perfect composite concrete, and our chance to realize it came with the attraction of Eureka! European Union research funding has resources to contract scientists from several leading Northern European universities. The result – jointfree, chemically prestressed, steel fiber reinforced composite concrete that saves 40% of CO2 emissions – PrīmX.
Q. High upfront cost has always been a major concern in eco-friendly products and services. How do you maintain affordability?
PrīmX is the world’s fastest-growing concrete floor system because its installation price is similar to existing, polluting, jointed concrete floors whilst being eco-friendly. At the same time, PrīmX, due to its superior quality, creates lots of economic value for its customers during use. The operating costs are cheaper, as no joints means no damage to equipment and radically lower maintenance costs. The productively rentable area is larger, as there are no limitations on rack placement, which cannot be placed at joints for the old-style jointed flooring systems. Since PrīmX floors are green, developers are benefiting from environmental credits and the availability of more and cheaper CSR-focused finance available for developers. As our floors stay flat for a lifetime and have no joints, they are ideal for robotic equipment. That adds value to the building, as it will be easier to rent out or sell in the future, like what happened to our customers in Israel. At the end of 2020, we finished a speculative warehouse near Ashdod’s port, just as the facility’s intended renter decided to cancel the rental agreement. Since the floor was robot-ready, PrīmX – flat and seamless - was rented out to a fully robotic logistic operator within days. PrīmX floors are future-ready.
Q. Manufacturing concrete has some impact on the environment. How did you make it more eco-friendly?
Concrete is responsible for 8 percent of global CO2 emissions. PrīmX chemically pre-stressed concrete has higher load-bearing ratings for the same thickness or, for the same load-bearing rating, can be produced at lower thickness. This reduction in concrete consumption due to superior load-bearing capacity means we can reduce the concrete consumption by 40%, thus saving CO2 emissions.
Q. What are the areas covered by your patent? And how well the patent has contributed to your success?
PrīmX technology holds multiple patents worldwide. We are running possibly the largest R&D unit of any concrete contractor, with a fully equipped own lab. That scientific approach is the real basis for the success and quality of our production. In that sense, our patents and our intellectual property, in general, are the bedrock of our success.
Q. What does the future hold for Primekss Group and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?
I believe the future of concrete construction belongs only to sustainable construction. PrīmX is ecofriendly technology adding value to building in various aspects – i.e., extra points in LEED, BREEAM, etc. systems. We are also developing new products. From the latest, I would like to emphasize our exterior concrete solution – PrīmX UltraPack, which is the worlds’ first truly jointless outdoor concrete paving application. It is ideal for outdoor areas with intensive traffic, such as loading areas for logistics complexes and material storage areas where regular heavy-duty vehicles and aggressive surface-to-surface activities are carried out.
Meet the leader behind the success of Primekss Group
Primekss’ Founder and CEO Janis Ošlejs is passionate about concrete and about environment. His mission is to create modern, sustainable concrete construction ready for future demands by unifying deep academic knowledge with latest advances in material science and best practices of modern construction and quality assurance. Company, managed by Janis, has been transformed from tiny local contractor to fast growing international company and achieved worldwide reputation for industry leadership.