Aircrete blocks – used in a wide variety of building and construction applications – are currently in short supply.
Trade body the Aircrete Product Association – that represents UK manufacturers – has acknowledged the current fall in production levels and the resulting impact it could have on the supply chain.
But how has this situation happened and what can builders do until it’s resolved?
Volumes of Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA), a by-product from coal-fired power stations producing electricity and one of the materials used to make aircrete blocks, have reduced as a result of a mild winter and low oil and gas prices.
While this is a short-term issue affecting aircrete block production, the longer term plan to source raw materials and meet rising demand for the product includes using stockpiled ash, imported ash and replacing PFA with other materials.
With the increase in housebuilding and popularity of aircrete, demand runs the risk of outstripping the current supplies.
To alleviate the situation, the Aircrete Product Association said: “We are urging our customers to work with us to achieve this. Specifically…to work closely with our members to help ensure that orders received are to meet genuine demand and that the inevitable degree of stock-piling that always accompanies unpredicted spikes in demand is limited where possible.”
Lee Dunderdale, marketing manager at Buildbase, says: “This scarcity of aircrete blocks is likely to continue for the foreseeable future but there are options to keep you building. However, using alternative blocks means builders will have to think about how to improve thermal performance to achieve what they normally do with aircrete.
“Buildbase deals with a large amount of block manufacturers throughout the UK and with two key suppliers of wall insulation, Knauf and Xtratherm, we are able to provide a solution to meet your building requirements using an alternative non-aircrete block during this period of shortage.
“As builders will be aware, the most common wall make-up is still cavity insulation comprising brick, cavity and block with either partial fill or full-fill insulation. And the quality standard of the insulation is part of that make-up.”