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Sonocrete enables more climate-friendly concrete in Deutsche Bahn's 'Neues Werk Cottbus'

December 7, 2022

Focus on sustainability in the construction of the maintenance facility - With Hentschke Bau and Sonocrete, two Lusatian companies provide climate-friendly concrete

With the “Neues Werk Cottbus” ('New Facility Cottbus’)project, Deutsche Bahn (DB) is driving forward the mobility transition. The maintenance facility will be DB's largest and most modern. It is an important step toward climate-friendly mobility. Even during the construction of the plant, sustainability is to be at the centre stage. Therefore, together with the executing construction company Wayss & Freytag (W&F), DB relies on the innovative technology of the Cottbus-based startup Sonocrete.

The future maintenance facility in Cottbus.

Sonocrete's newly developed ultrasonic mixing process was used in the production of the precast concrete elements for the new facility. The concrete elements, such as columns and trusses are manufactured at Hentschke Bau's concrete plant in Bautzen. The Sonocrete process makes it possible to produce the concrete components with significantly less cement - 30%of the cement can be saved. Despite the cement reduction the concrete properties, especially the early strengths, remain the same. This is due to the acceleration of the hydration reaction – so, the faster setting of the concrete induced by the high-performance ultrasound used. A 30% reduction in cement content saves about 1.4 tons of carbon per girder.

Girder production at Hentschke Bau in Bautzen

The Sonocrete process can help reduce the high carbon emissions of cement production, which account for about 8% of global carbon emissions. These are created during the production of the cement clinker, acrucial component of the cement. The production of cement clinker involves the decomposition of calcium carbonate in limestone by heating using fossil fuels to generate the extremely high burning temperatures.

The clinker content in cement is particularly critical for precast concrete plants. Here, highly reactive cements are often used to achieve rapid early strength development in the concrete. For precasters applies: The faster the concrete molds can be stripped, the better. With the high-performance ultrasonic mixing system developed by Sonocrete, the hydration reaction of the concrete is accelerated by inducing cavitation, which leads to better dispersion and faster formation of strength-giving C-S-H phases. This faster hydration allows precast producers to reduce clinker content while maintaining early strength and quality.

Press Conference at the Construction site of the maintenance facility

Sonocrete GmbH was founded by Dr. Ricardo Remus (CEO)and Dr. Christiane Rössler as a spin-off of the Bauhaus University Weimar in November 2018. The ultrasonic mixing process is now based on 12 years of research and the Sonocrete system has been under continuous development for four years.  The company now employs 20 people, mostly engineers from various disciplines.

Ricardo Remus, CEO of Sonocrete: "With Sonocrete, precast concrete production can take a big step towards sustainability by mixing concrete with less of the reactive material, the so-called cement clinker. This not only saves CO2, but also reduces costs. As a Cottbus-based startup, we are of course particularly pleased that building components made with Sonocrete technology will soon be standing here."

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