WINNIPEG, MB – A University of Winnipeg chemist, Dr. Jamie Ritch, was approached by a Winnipeg-based trade contractor, Antex Western Ltd., to partner in researching an alternative to the cement used in the construction industry. This is made possible with the assistance of a six-month Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Engage grant worth $25,000. The grant establishes research collaborations between universities and industry.
“It’s exciting to be able to collaborate with industry,” explained Ritch. “My team will be investigating a company-specific technical problem with their current product formulation. We will be working on a class of materials called geopolymers, which could be a possible replacement for the current standard, ordinary Portland cement (OPC). Our aim is improving the shelf life of the ingredients that form the geopolymers by altering their chemical behaviour in solution. This increased stability will pave the way for future upscaling of production and full commercialization.”
Geopolymers are stronger than OPC and also have the potential for a much lower carbon footprint. They are estimated to release up to 80-90% less CO2 during production, which is an obvious environmental advantage.
Additionally, recycled materials including waste products from other industrial processes can be used in their manufacture, saving on raw materials costs. While geopolymers have been known for decades and have some niche uses, large-scale international commercialization has yet to be achieved.
“Antex Western is thrilled to be working on this project with Dr. Ritch,” said Mike Kolas, President of Antex Western. “We have been looking for more expertise to support our efforts in stabilizing the activator formulations required for wide-spread industry use.”
NSERC is a federal agency that helps make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for all Canadians. The agency supports some 30,000 post-secondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. It promotes discovery by funding more than 12,000 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,500 Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects.
For 85 years Antex Western Ltd. has been synonymous with the integrity, expertise and skilled workmanship that have made the company an industry leader in installing interior commercial building products in Manitoba. Built on innovation and attention to detail, Antex Western Ltd. has stood the test of time.
Mike Kolas, President
Antex Western Ltd.