GRANIDUS: A contribution

The concern about climate change is leading to all kinds of investigations that could help to mitigate to the extent possible, the consequences of this problem. The reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is one of the priorities, something to which granite can contribute a lot, affirms Matthias Bieniek*, President of GRANIDUS (Composts of Granite for Innovative Use and Diversification of Stone), an association that is betting on creating a new industry on a large scale based on granite and composts of granite as substitutes of steel, a much more contaminating material.

How did the initiative of GRANIDUS begin?

As after years of presenting and discussing stabilized granite on more than 20 international and regional fairs and conferences, from Paris over Munich, Monaco, Berlin, Brussels, Bali and wherever, and in various meetings with construction engineers and responsibles in the politics, the consciousness became evident, that natural stone in the age of steel and concrete has become less and less important in the different domains of construction. With the awareness that by substituting metals and concrete with differently won and manufactured natural stone it is possible to contribute to the mitigation of CO2-emissions and at the same time to advance global social justice – natural stone is found nearly in every country – the idea was born short time before the Bali conference last December to create a platform for the interest of natural stone. That is what GRANIDUS means: Granite Composites for the Innovative and Diversificated Usage of Stone.

On what basis would you say that granite is the most ecologically friendly construction material? What comparative studies have been done to illustrate this claim? Where can the stone industry find this study?

Granite is to be won easily with comparably few energy nearly everywhere in the world. That means less impact on the nature in comparison to the winning of metals and their components. That means less global transport. Granite has been baked billions of years ago by mother earth and can be manufactured and used near to its source. That means incomparably less energy consumption at its winning than at the production of other pressure strong materials like steel or concrete. That means less CO2-emissions and a contribution to save the climate. Granite as a composite of the basement complex rock materials feldspar, quartz and mica offers astonishing properties: it is compressible – and therefore flexible when the surface is stabilized with a tensile strong material. It is pressure resistant like good construction steel – at the weight of Aluminium. Its vibration damping property comes from the fact that in case of vibration it gets back in the linear way into its initial position, that is why it should find applications in constructions where vibration problems have to be resolved. Granite is corrosion free, mainly if the surface is protected with tensile strong materials. So it is many times more durable than steel or concrete. One composite of carbon fibre stabilized granite, CFS by the Munich company TechnoCarbon Technologies, has been examined at the University of Munich. A spring leaf of 40 by 15 cm with a thickness of 5 mm has been loaded one million times with 80 Kg. The result: no fatigue of the material. Steel would have been fatigued much earlier. Other publications are to be realized by scientists and researchers. The introduction of granite into the engineering world takes first steps. Composites of granite and other materials are described on the website GRANIDUS' aim is also to encourage institutes, individuals and planners in the politics to rethink about the traditional applications of granite, for example about the construction of bridges like the Romans built instead of concrete bridges. More and more research publications will arise.

When was GRANIDUS created?

The idea to found GRANIDUS was born in 2007. First companies and individuals declared their interest to become members of GRANIDUS spontaneously. After the official formation assembly on February, 17th 2008, companies and individuals from Switzerland and Germany asked for membership. GRANIDUS from now on offers the membership to interested people from all over the world, who want help to advantage, to develop and to renew ideas to apply natural stone in various traditional and future orientated industrial and engineering domains.

GRANIDUS was present in the Bali Conference on Climate Change. What were the activities of GRANIDUS there and what was the reaction of the delegates to the Conference?

The GRANIDUS delegates in Bali at the UNFCCC last December did not expect the interest they were confronted with at their little booth on the first floor. The reaction was almost inspiring for the GRANIDUS team and their sponsor partner TechnoCarbon Technologies who made samples of their flexible granite materials available. But inspiring was the presentation of what is possible to be realized with natural stone in particular for delegates of developing countries, mainly of those who are already suffering of the impacts of the climate change. So in discussion with delegates of the Pacific or South Asia Area some applications of granite had been pointed out which before had never been thought. So with a new technology of stabilizing granite with carbon fibre it is possible to produce for example 2 cm and less thick sheets of stabilized granite which may be used in the construction of flood protection systems instead of steel or as roofs in stormy Pacific regions. Even came up the idea to use thin stone plates instead of wood. I am sure, the feed back will be much greater with growing membership numbers. We have not been very surprised that after our return to Germany officials from federal Ministries and from Brussels and even from the industry contacted us.

What plans do you have to promote GRANIDUS within the stone industry?

We are aware that there are a lot of changes within the German and even European stone industry which traditionally is a middle class industry. With the globalization the competition with offerers from mainly Asia has become evident. For many companies has begun a fight of to be or not to be. The ones who focus on new technologies or new applications of natural stone will have bigger chances than the ones who are crying that every becomes worse and worse. There are huge markets for natural stone and mainly for the especially for the industrial usage appropriate granite, if the entrepreneurs integrate the possibilities of composite materials with stone into their portfolio. GRANIDUS invites the stone manufacturers to contact it for a fruitful cooperation. GRANIDUS also contacts companies with its own capacities which are limited at the actual status. GRANIDUS is very very young!

What has been the reaction of the granite industry so far to the GRANIDUS initiative?

Positive! One member of the managing board of GRANIDUS is an engineer and journalist of one of the most important German trade magazines for the stone industry. Stone cutting companies welcome our initiative. But not only those. A Swiss producer of fine sporting goods who uses stone in a ski, is a founder member, and a German company who applies diverse plastic and composite materials, is member. Another founder member is the owner of a steel structure company near Munich.

What do you think the granite industry should do to promote its industry within the resources available?

The granite industry is a part of the stone industry. The stone manufacturing plans should be aware that they work with a material that offers much more potentials than nobody believed until now. The discovery for example that with a simple stabilization of the stone's surface it becomes possible to calibrate stone plates in the measure of the raw stone cuboids down to even less than 5 mm, opens doors to application fields for natural stone which had never been pointed out before. Granite is a raw construction material which can replace steel and aluminium in many cases in the construction domain and in the mechanical engineering. I know that it is possible to build cars, truck trailers, trains, elevators, wind mills, just to name some of the possibilities. A Bavarian company has got last week the concession to deliver light stabilized stone plates for the application in air planes. Granite resources are nearly endless. Winning and manufacturing of substitute applications generate almost 50 % and less CO2 emissions. Some investors are convinced: the granite industry makes today the first footsteps towards a new future orientated large scale industry. Ecologically friendly it will have the potential to step by step substitute the climate killing steel and aluminium industry in wide fields. In this sense we also want to motivate the responsibles of steel plants to think about granite.

*Matthias Bieniek, Chairman of the Board of Management of GRANIDUS, has a Master Degree in History of Arts and in Roman languages obtained after studies in West-Berlin, Perpignan, Paris and Rome. He has been living and working in Berlin, Cologne and in Bénin, West Africa, in language research and teaching and from 1989 on as a free lancer in international sales and communication for different companies and as Managing Director in own firms, lastly as an estate agent in the construction sector in Greater Berlin, this included the consultancy in construction materials. Since 2005 he has dedicated his professional energy to the commercialization on the international markets of granite composite materials and natural stones. Lastly he has presented GRANIDUS at the Climate Conference in Bali.

Matthias Bieniek M.A.
+49 157 7258 4544