(This week's post come from Wikipedia, "Release agent." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Release_agent#Concrete)
Precast Concrete Form Release Agent Chemistry
In the concrete construction industry, form release agents prevent the adhesion of freshly placed concrete to the forming surface, usually plywood, overlaid plywood, steel or aluminum. In this application, there are two types of release agents available: barrier and reactive.
Reactive release agents are chemically active and work by the process of a chemical reaction between the release agent and the free limes available in fresh concrete. A soapy film is created which prevents adhesion. Because it is a chemically reactive process, there is generally little to no residue or unreacted product left on the forming surface or concrete which provides for a cleaner process.
Water-based release agents are a result of more focus on health, environment and safety issues. This has resulted in development of new technologies largely focused on water-based formulations, with the movement being away from petroleum- or solvent-based products.
To learn more you may like to read Bob Waterloo's article, "How Safe (and Legal) is Your Concrete Form Release Agent?" Which ran in PRECAST INC Magazine. Bob Waterloo is technical sales manager, Concrete Release Agents, Hill and Griffith Co., based in Indianapolis. For additional information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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