Whether it's climate protection, energy conservation or resource efficiency: as a provider of innovative building and insulation materials, we are continuously developing sustainable and environmentally friendly concepts. In 2020 alone, the Xella Group invested around 5.2 million euros in research and development, 75 percent of which was in environment and climate-related research. Currently, sustainable products account for approximately 68 percent of our total revenue. “With our building and insulation solutions, we want an efficient, sustainable and affordable construction industry for the benefit of customers,” says Christophe Clemente, CEO of the Xella Group.
Sustainability of AAC: innovations and research are crucial
The construction industry is considered one of the biggest consumers of resources and energy. For this reason, it has a special role to play in climate protection. Our focus: offering solutions that are durable, ecological, and recyclable – and yet remain affordable. That's why we invest in research and development.
Reliable renewal power
Our technology and research company (Xella T&F) is a global leader in our industry and a foundation for reliable renewal power and forward-looking action. At two locations, engineers, mineralogists, chemists, building physicists, and technicians work in the areas of product and process research, application research, and quality management with an accredited testing center to constantly improve our products. “We don't want to chase trends and new tendencies, but set impulses ourselves,” says Torsten Schoch, managing director of Xella T&F. What makes it special: On the one hand, the company conducts foundational research and, at the same time, develops sustainable building materials.
For example, we are cooperating with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) on the development of a new type of binder made from post-demolition autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC). This may soon enable us to replace cement with a more CO2-efficient alternative made from demolition material.
Our research and development primarily relate to the following areas:
Product and process research
Xella T&F is working consistently to increase the proportion of autoclaved aerated concrete powder as a substitute for primary raw materials without changing the properties of the products. Furthermore, processes are being developed and investments made in machinery together with our colleagues in the Technology division to ensure better use of the recyclability of our products.
Already, autoclaved aerated concrete cuttings and fractured material from our own production is crushed into autoclaved aerated concrete powder and immediately returned into autoclaved aerated concrete production. But the principles of the circular economy must apply throughout the entire life cycle of buildings. This can be done, for example, by fully recycling components and reusing them to produce new building materials. That's why Xella is working to establish a circular economy for autoclaved aerated concrete to ensure its high-quality reuse after demolition or deconstruction. “In this way, the built environment serves as a raw material store for the buildings of tomorrow,” explains Dr. Oliver Kreft, who is responsible for the circular economy at Xella T&F.
Premium building materials require high-quality raw materials. That's why our colleagues in research and development are constantly working on checking and ensuring the quality of our raw materials before and during use. We are also constantly working to improve the sustainability of our products, for example by using less carbon-intensive raw materials.
Application research and building physics
Here, new building materials and systems undergo practical testing: they are exposed to extreme strain such as heat, frost, moisture, wind, fire, and even artificially generated earthquakes, tested for their suitability for everyday use and optimized. Once new products have passed these tests, Xella T&F sets all the necessary technical regulations and processes in motion at national and European level.
Accredited testing center
Xella T&F has been an accredited testing center since 2011 and is responsible for quality control, building material testing, and compliance with the Construction Products Regulation for the European market. Product properties of autoclaved aerated concrete, for example, such as compressive strength, bulk density, and thermal conductivity are tested here so that they meet the standards and approval requirements.
Collaborative research at European level
We are convinced that in the future it will be increasingly important to develop new solutions and to consciously share knowledge jointly with partners. Our open-innovation approach opens up our innovation process to the outside world for this purpose and we are in close exchange with customers, research institutes, universities, and other companies in the construction industry.
“With its excellent contribution to research, product development, and standardization, the Xella T&F is of incalculable importance to the construction sector,” says Prof. Dr. Oliver Kornadt, head of the Department of Building Physics at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, assessing our work.
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