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What Are the Key Features of Polycarboxylate Superplasticizer

Polycarboxylates are third-generation superplasticizers that have revolutionized the industry

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What Are the Key Features of Polycarboxylate Superplasticizer

Polycarboxylates are third-generation superplasticizers that have revolutionized the industry. It has lowered the water-to-cement ratio by 40%, even at low dosage rates. Polycarboxylates or PCE is particularly useful in creating high-strength and self-compacting concrete.

Moreover, PCE products are also appropriate for harsh weather conditions, which makes them easy to transport. The polycarboxylate superplasticizer price depends on many factors, as it is used in a variety of applications.

Usage of PCE Products

Between 2015 and 2020, the global market for PCE was projected to grow at an annual rate of 8.2%, reaching USD 4.77 billion. This expansion was fueled by high demand from emerging economies as well as environmental cost savings.

In 2019 alone, the global polycarboxylate superplasticizer market was estimated at USD 9.16 billion. It is expected to expand at a healthy rate of more than 8% between 2020 and 2027.

The Asia-Pacific Region is the world's largest producer of superplasticizers, with the Middle East and Africa being second. Many experts believe that the Asia-Pacific region will remain the most important market with high construction investments due to rising population and demand.

Image-text: PCE superplasticizer for concrete

                                    Alt-text: PCE superplasticizer for concrete

Features of Polycarboxylate Superplasticizer

PCE is a cement dispersant used in making concrete. Infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, dams, tunnels, and high-rise buildings use PCE concrete superplasticizer. Following the introduction of general-purpose PCE superplasticizers, new PCE products were specifically designed to provide high early strength and various degrees of slump retention, with different capabilities to handle air contents in concrete. 

The molecular structure of PCE makes it a unique construction resource as it has properties like

Air Entrainment

A defoamer is used in almost all polycarboxylate-based admixtures to prevent excessive air entrainment caused by the PCE polymer. Air contents can generally be effectively handled in both air-entrained and non-air-entrained concrete applications by selecting the PCE-based superplasticizer substance most consistent with the job materials.

Due to the hydrophobic nature of defoamers, which causes adsorption by fly ash carbon, maintaining clear air contents can be difficult. Compared to superplasticizers based on PNS, PCE-based products can make air-entraining admixtures (AEA) more efficient, requiring less AEA to achieve the same air content.

Clay Impact

The PCE polymer can be readily and irreversibly adsorbed by clay fines found in various aggregate sources. This feature makes PCE superior to technologies like PNS. PCE's are usually dosed around one-third of PNS-based superplasticizers for the comparable slump in clay-free or low-clay sands.

However, when clays are present in some sands, a 50 percent higher dose of PCE can be predicted than PNS. Looking for clay fines in the aggregate supply should be prioritized if the amount of a PCE superplasticizer suddenly increases.

PCE-Calcium Synergy

When PCE-based superplasticizers combine with calcium-based set accelerators and corrosion inhibitors, unexplained strength improvements have been observed compared to a similar concrete mix mixed with a PNS-based product. A blend with a calcium nitrite-based corrosion inhibitor was the first to show this synergy in strength benefit with PCEs.


PCEs are insensitive to the time of addition. Hence, they allow greater flexibility in the concrete batching phase. PNS-based superplasticizers must be applied in a delayed addition mode (after the cement and water have started to mix).

Compared to other superplasticizers PCE, reduces water consumption by 30.0% - 40.0% when used at a dosage rate of 0.15% - 0.3%. Polycarboxylate superplasticizer is a type of surfactant that contains carboxyl grafted copolymer in its molecules.

Note: When PCEs and PNS-based goods are mixed in the same concrete mix, the workability quickly deteriorates. As a result, the two technologies, PNS and PCE, should not be combined.


Concrete consumes a lot of energy and water, accounting for 4-8 percent of global CO2 emissions and approximately 2% of international water withdrawals. PCE reduces the amount of water applied to the concrete and the amount of cement added to the concrete paste by up to 40%. It helps in reducing the environmental impact without losing the concrete's efficiency. 

In response to increased population density and more expensive city-center infrastructure, there is an increasing global trend toward "Vertical Urbanization," or the development of taller high-rise buildings. Advances in concrete technology, including Super Plasticizers, have helped speed up the design of these high-rise structures without damaging the environment.

Final Thoughts:

PCE superplasticizer is a third-generation concrete product with specific properties that make it ideal for construction purposes. These properties include high water-reduction rate, high strength and compactness, low viscosity, easy operation, strong self-leveling, and environmental friendliness.

These features make PCE superplasticizer and the perfect companion for infrastructure projects. You should check these features and the polycarboxylate superplasticizer price before choosing this product.

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