Innovative products and technologies can help reduce environmental pollution because their use conserves raw materials and lowers energy consumption. Innovative strength is also a decisive driver of competitiveness. Being innovative needs ideas – and these are found in the minds of our employees.
Each individual at Xella is called upon to seek potential optimizations and look beyond the horizons of their own departments. Since 2007 we have been honoring excellent ideas with the Xella Innovation Award. This recognizes promising new products, services, processes or sales and marketing concepts such as Fels NautiCal, the “M1 house” or the Fels agricultural strategy.
Over a period of three years, Xella and six partner companies from the architecture, home construction and building technology sectors developed and built the first energy-plus masonry house. The “M1” is a model project under the research initiative of the German Federal Office of Construction and Regional Planning and is part of the Efficiency House Plus network. Through this network the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development sponsors model projects that fulfil the efficiency house standard.
The findings gained over a period of two years are intended to demonstrate the suitability for everyday use of the house and its component parts. These include the Ytong Energy+ building material which was used in this project for the first time in Germany. This solid mineral building block – which has already been used successfully in Denmark for two years – gets its excellent thermal insulation properties from a combination of two layers of autoclaved aerated concrete and a core made of thermally insulating Multipor. At a wall thickness of 40 cm the block exhibits an equivalent lambda value of 0.06 W/(mK) and achieves the intended U-value of 0.15 W/(m2 K).
The “M1 house” received the Energy Award in the category “Energy house of the year”. The winners of the Energy Award are selected annually by a forum of energy industry experts from the Energy Academy.
The "EnergieWertHaus" (energy-value house) in the Rhine Region’s city of Rösrath achieves new benchmarks and has received the 2012 RWE Climate Protection Award. This award recognizes initiatives for greater energy efficiency and better environmental conditions in local municipalities. This detached family house, developed jointly by Xella and heating system manufacturer Vaillant, impresses with its energy concept in which thermal insulation and heating technology are optimally dimensioned. Its energy consumption, which is 30 percent below the statutory requirements, even beats the requirements for a passive house.
New Ytong block
Ytong Slovenia has developed a pre-fabricated formwork block for constructing house and apartment partition walls. The autoclaved aerated concrete block fulfils both the statutory guide values for noise insulation and exhibits a thermal conductivity coefficient of between 0.70 and 0.90 W/(m2 K) for thermal insulation. This innovative product is intended to diversify our range and strengthen our own market position. The block is currently undergoing an STS inspection (Slovenian Technical Approval) prior to its market launch.
Individual renovation solutions
Ytong has launched a complete system of Ytong, Multipor and other renovation components on the French market. Renovation is a growing market in Europe. In France there is a particularly high proportion of building stock from a time when there were no statutory requirements for thermal insulation. The renovation concept is oriented on the building stock in question (age, material, thermal insulation etc.) and an individual “toolbox” is prepared for each specific project. In 2014 Xella France will accelerate marketing of its “Ytong Renovation Solutions”.
Modular, recyclable building concept
In cooperation with the Technical University of Dresden and industrial partners, Xella has developed a recyclable modular building concept for buildings that uses mineral materials. This system is flexible in application but stable at the same time. The consumption of primary energy during production of the components is very low, the modules are lightweight and recyclable and buildings constructed from them are highly energy-efficient. A further benefit of this system is that buildings can be constructed quickly – irrespective of the weather. Research work on the new modular building system is now more or less complete.
Fels is intensifying its focus on agriculture
The use of lime and limestone products in the agricultural sector has proven itself over centuries in a variety of ways. Lime helps prevent soil erosion and protects against silting of arable farmland, has a positive effect on soil reaction, neutralizes and promotes humus formation. Lime also has hygienic properties as a result of its antibacterial effect.
Liming adds calcium and magnesium to the soil, both of which are essential nutrients required for healthy plant growth. Fels "Mischkalk 50 feucht" (Compound lime fertilizer 50 moist), a combination of super-fine limestone enriched with clay minerals and highly reactive Fels quicklime, improves yields quickly and sustainably. For instance, tests carried out in agricultural operations (sugar beet cultivation) in the vicinity of Goslar resulted in a growth advantage of 55 percent versus the nonlimed control sample. Thanks to the moist-crumbly structure of lime, the fertilizer can be spread without producing dust. Nor does the product require expensive silo storage.
Thanks to its alkaline pH value and antimicrobial effect, lime is also the preferred substance for use in animal stall hygiene and disease control. In agriculture, animal stall hygiene is of fundamental importance to animal health and maintaining a good stall climate. Where there is a high density of animals there is also a particular risk of infectious diseases. A highly effective method for dairy herds is the lime-straw mattress, which is a mixture of Fels mattress lime and straw. Fungi, bacteria, viruses and small insects don’t feel comfortable on this alkaline base. This reduces the risk of dairy cattle developing inflammation of the udder for instance. A further benefit is that the calcium carbonate contained in the mattress binds moisture better than straw, which means that less straw is actually required. The use of lime for hygiene purposes reduces infestations, allows the use of fewer drugs, produces less waste and therefore ensures a higher yield.