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PolyCare CEO Gerhard Dust responds to questions about his technology

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In his previous posts [1] [2], Gerhard Dust outlined the events that led him to his current career path and described some of the challenges he has encountered as his new business develops. In this third blog post, Gerhard deals with some of the main questions that his new technology has raised and explains some of the concepts involved.

In my previous blogs I have tried to convey the huge advantages that the PolyCare system offers when building structures of up to three or four stories. However, some of the responses I have received recently have led me to understand that some of you are still struggling to accept that much of this is actually possible.  How can you have a building with no real foundations, and how is it possible to build with blocks that are not cemented together?  What’s more, doesn’t capillary attraction mean you still get rising damp, and can completely unskilled people really do all the building work?

These and many more questions have been continually raised and, if you think about it, with good reason.  For over 2000 years there has been a standard way of building and we all understand it fairly well.  The problem is that when something totally new arrives our immediate reaction is to compare it to what we know and the standards we are familiar with.  Unfortunately this doesn’t always give us a clear picture.

Below I explain the building process with pictures taken on-site when my colleague Ramon Gray constructed a small Quality Control building for TATA in New Delhi, India.

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The start of a PolyCare build requires a flat, level base of wet sand.  This is usually accomplished by making a small 150-200mm channel in the ground, filling it with sand and then levelling it carefully.  In this first picture (left) this wasn’t possible as the construction was being carried out on an uneven concrete base. However, the building system is simple and it can be adapted to practically any situation.  Here, instead of making a channel, our team used some waste materials (the granite strip on the left and the steel box section on the right) to form a flat and level frame for the wet sand base.

The picture on the right shows the start of the build itself.  On the right you can see that base lates have been simply laid on the sand base and bolted together with small steel plates.  These continue around the building and form the base level.
Steel connecting rods are then screwed into the bases and these run right through the blocks, once they are laid on top, and connect to a similar set of plates at the top of the building. Once the connecting rods are in place work can start on laying the blocks.

The laying of the blocks continues with the blocks being placed over the rods and with the rods themselves being extended using simple screw thread connectors.  Gaps are left for windows, doors etc.  When the blocks reach the top of the building the top plates are added and the rods are bolted to them, giving the whole structure immense strength.

There is no sticking, gluing or anything else involved; the blocks are simply laid on top of each other.  This is why our system has often been called “big boys’ LEGO” – for obvious reasons. But I’m not sure that this is an accurate description… the LEGO most ten year olds do is much more complicated!

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So let me explain some of the concepts.

In this system no foundation is generally used (see note) as the structure itself is many times stronger and more resistant to bending forces than a brick or cement concrete wall.  This is due to a combination of the huge strength of the polymer concrete as well as the way that the blocks lock together.  This strength is further enhanced by the tie bar system that produces a very strong box-like structure.  But there are further considerations.  This structure is completely resistant to water, so foundation frost and capillary attraction occurs without any consequence.  The wet sand technique is a copy of the system the Egyptians used to build the pyramids.  While it may seem somewhat crude and primitive, no one can say that it hasn’t stood the test of time.

So, lastly, let me provide some assurances for anyone looking at this system for the first time.  The Bauhaus University is one of the most respected institutions worldwide for architecture, design and materials testing.  They have been working with PolyCare now for over four years, testing and officially certifying practically every aspect of what we do.  They are so confident in our system of building that one of their professors recently assisted PolyCare in presenting and discussing its merits at an international exhibition.  The efficacy of the system is therefore not in doubt and it is currently undergoing full building type approval in Germany.

[Note:  PolyCare fully understands that, in some circumstances, extremely weak or unstable soils will need some level of foundation, whether strip or corner piles, etc.  Site testing will determine where this is necessary.]

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Learn more about Polycare

Previous EEPA blog post on Polycare: 

A mature entrepreneur talks about a life-changing event…

Gerhard Dust discusses the challenges he faces in his new business venture…

Gerhard Dust discusses the challenges he faces in his new business venture…

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In his previous blog post, Gerhard Dust described how an international humanitarian crisis caused him to re-evaluate his retirement plans and led him down a completely new career path. In this second post, Gerhard tells us about some of the issues his company encounters as his business develops.

You will have seen from my previous blog the huge advantages that our construction system can bring, and these were naturally of significant interest to our visitors from China. The Chinese delegation was keen to see if it would be possible to use waste residue from a gold mine as the main filler constituent in our polymer concrete and if the end product conformed to Chinese building standards.  We demonstrated that not only could we use this waste material but that the resultant PolyCare polymer concrete was anything from 6 to 10 times stronger than required by their standard.  This advantage was further enhanced when they discovered that just 1m3 of this material actually makes 3 to 4m3 of walling.  Consequently, we have made significant progress with this important Chinese company and their delegation left acknowledging that our process could make a major contribution to meeting Chinese housing needs.

Meeting with the Chinese delegation at our R&D plant in Gehlberg Germany

Working on the world stage with a breakthrough technology like ours doesn’t always attract such commercially aware and serious-minded approaches as that of the Chinese delegation.  It can be frustrating at times, and sometimes quite amusing.  Practically every week we are approached by individuals who claim to be close to, or related to, or a friend of, a king or queen, the president, the minister, etc. etc.  In circumstances like these, naivety soon gives way to experience and the realisation that often these people only know someone who operates the lift in a building where someone else who works for the government lives.  The bottom line is always that either they want something for nothing, or a payment in order to “oil the wheels.”  On occasions, of course, our contacts are genuine, but there are also frustrations in what we do.  This is almost an intrinsic part of the process.  When you have something new, and especially when it is a disruptive technology, files seem to get left gathering dust on desks far too often.

For us, though, the world has so many bright imaginative people who are able to look to the future and can see what is needed.  In July, I was invited to the Biennale Architettura 2016 in Venice.  This is a biennial meeting of architects from across the world.  In his keynote speech, the Director of the Biennale Alejandro Aravena described the current world situation in terms of the Urban Age.  This term is used because the current generation will build more cities than all previous generations combined.  By 2050, 70% of the entire world’s population will live in cities and globally there is a desperate need for housing.  Alejandro quoted some startling figures from the US government, estimating that the world needs to build 1,000,000 houses a week at a cost of less than $10,000 (EUR 8,900) each and this needs to be achieved to prevent a further global security threat.  In this regard Alejandro’s opinion was insightful, and possibly goes to the core of what it is that PolyCare is trying to achieve.  He said that this rate of building could only be achieved by adopting new technologies that use new materials and new building methods.

This, of course, is where we at PolyCare started six years ago.  At that time we were only looking at disaster reconstruction, but the same analysis was true for that situation as it is for global housing.  We needed a new technology for slum development and to build low-cost refugee housing, which is precisely why we developed the PolyCare system.

We continue to work to improve the lives of the millions of people who are currently either homeless or living in wretched conditions and continue to work towards achieving the ambitious targets outlined by the US government and described by Alejandro Aravena.

To see more about PolyCare and our revolutionary building technique go to: https://www.dropbox.com/s/hg3qujz7jj9ss1h/VTS_04_1.VOB?dl=0

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