Al Jazeera’s facility in Abu Dhabi. INSET: the fire test.

A UAE manufacturer of autoclaved aerated concrete blocks is poised to expand further, drawing on the strengths of its superior product.

Abu Dhabi-based Al Jazeera, a pioneer manufacturer of autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) Thermalite blocks, is expanding its operations by setting up a new plant in Dubai.
The new operation to be known as Delmon AAC Factory is expected to commence production by the end of this year.
Thermalite combines light weight with high strength and provides a number of advantages over alternative building materials through its superior properties, says a spokesman for Al Jazeera Factory, which brought the material to the UAE around 14 years ago.
Thermalite has been widely used for external and internal walls and also as thermal insulating panels and hordi blocks, on several important landmark buildings in the region. Some of the projects that have used the blocks include: the Burj Al Arab, Dubai Marina, City Centre, Dubai Airport, Emirates Hills, American Hospital, Internet City, Knowledge Village and NMC Hospital (all in Dubai) and the Conference Palace, Al Raha Beach Resort and Abu Dhabi Mall (all in Abu Dhabi) and the City Centre and Downtown Centre in Sharjah.
The Thermalite blocks manufactured and marketed by Al Jazeera Factory were developed in Germany over 50 years ago where it quickly became accepted as a superior building product. Since then, these blocks have been used all over the continents.
“AAC is made of sand, cement, and lime and expansion agents, to produce the aerated cells in the blocks. The physical and chemical process of manufacturing AAC blocks is undertaken using advanced engineering techniques, which finally result in lightweight insulating blocks,” he says.
Thermalite offers several advantages, with high thermal insulation being one of them. Its superior thermal insulation properties help create a comfortable indoor environment. The air bubbles that are trapped in Thermalite offers a thermal insulation that is many times better than that offered by conventional concrete and clay bricks, according to the spokesman.
“The thermal conductivity (K) of a dry Thermalite block is about (0.1 to 0.14) W/m K, which gives 10 times more insulative power than the dense concrete. This means a considerable saving in tonnage of air-conditioning and its accessories and also in savings in electricity consumption of up to 50 to 70 per cent,” he says. “With an approximate density of 450 to 550 kg/cu m, Thermalite is only one-third of the weight of an equivalent hollow concrete block and half the weight of lightweight aggregate block. This helps reduce the load on the concrete structure and foundation of the building substantially and helps save on construction time.”
Commenting on the other properties of Thermalite, he adds: “The structure of AAC blocks provides superior sound absorption and insulation, both of which depend on density and porosity. The air porosity of the material has a significant effect on the performance of the wall. The aerated structure of Thermalite consists of millions of very small non-interconnected air cells giving very low air porosity, thereby providing a high resistance to the passage of airborne sound relative to density.”
“Thermalite is particularly suited for firewalls and fire protection of structural steel. A 10 cm thick AAC Thermalite block provides a fire resistance of four hours, and a 15 cm block offers six hours resistance in accordance with BS-5628-3 – approximately twice the protection offered by normal concrete.
“Further, the blocks have an average compressive strength of 28-35 kg/sq cm which is superior to most types of lightweight blocks, 25 per cent stronger than other products of the same density.
“Because of their cellular and discontinuous microstructure, the external surface of AAC Thermalite walls provides superior resistance to air and moisture penetration than the traditional masonry products. In addition, Thermalite being manufactured from non-biodegradable materials does not rot nor attract mould, keeping interiors clean and durable.
“The blocks can be sawed, nailed and drilled more easily than wood, by suitable tools available for this purpose and result in less wastage and keep the site clean.
“Thermalite is also economical, easier and quicker to install. Construction time is substantially reduced using these blocks because they are larger and lighter than conventional blocks. Blocks are laid flush with thin joint mortars hence reducing mortar and plastering cost and eliminating thermal bridging.
“AAC products have been in use for more than 50 years and since then, the production has spread to most parts of the world and the materials has proved its durability under extremely different climatic and chemical conditions. The linear expansion coefficient of Thermalite is approximately 0.02 per cent.”
“The non-existence of toxic substances, less consumption of fuel, electricity and nominal wastage during production, substantial energy savings in buildings – all these advantages of Thermalite help make it an environment-friendly substitute for traditional building blocks,” he says.
The new Dubai facility will also manufacture AAC panels which is pre-constructed, ready-to-use walls and slabs, the spokesman concludes.