The newly expanded Hospital Las Higueras in Talcahuano, Chile was ceremoniously inaugurated in June 2021. PENETRON ADMIX was specified to protect all new below-grade concrete structures against the region’s high groundwater.
Part of the Concepción metropolitan area south of Santiago, Talcahuano is a port city of over 250,000 inhabitants, in the picturesque Bío Bío rainforest region. The Hospital Las Higueras is part of Chile’s National Health Services system and the hub medical facility for the Talcahuano Health Service network that serves the surrounding communities of Talcahuano, Penco, Tomé and Hualpén.
The first Talcahuano Hospital was built in 1871 with 35 beds. A new structure was built in the San Vincente district after the earthquake of 1939 seriously damaged the old hospital. Thirty years later, a new, and larger hospital was inaugurated. The latest expansion and renovation (3rd stage) of the Hospital Las Higueras is a US$89 million (CP 127 billion) project that added 100 hospital beds (total: 501) and expanded the short stay, dialysis, geriatric care, and administrative areas.
Empresa Constructora, the project’s general contractor, was faced with high groundwater at the construction site and needed a robust waterproofing solution for the concrete structures.
Keeping Concrete Dry in a Rainy Climate
“Typically, any construction site in this area of Chile with below-grade structures is going to face a lot of groundwater seeping into the site,” adds Domingo Lema, Managing Director of Penetron Chile. “It’s no surprise for a region that sees over 45” (1,160 mm) of rain every year.”
Originally, a competitive product was specified as a waterproofing solution. However, Penetron Chile demonstrated that PENETRON ADMIX, when added to the concrete mix, was the lowest cost and most effective waterproofing solution for concrete. PENETRON ADMIX was specified for the concrete mix; Ready Mix Hormigones, the ready-mix concrete supplier, provided the concrete mix for the below-grade concrete foundation slab and retaining walls.
Insoluble Crystals Protect Concrete
Once mixed into the concrete, the proprietary chemicals in PENETRON ADMIX react with moisture and mineral compounds in concrete to form an insoluble crystal network throughout the concrete matrix. The insoluble crystals within the cracks and capillaries of the concrete matrix reduce shrinkage cracking, seal microcracks and provide a permanent self-healing capability for hairline cracks over the service life of the structure.
“The self-healing capability of the concrete at Hospital Las Higueras virtually eliminates the need for any future maintenance,” adds Domingo Lema. “Once added to the mix, PENETRON ADMIX can extend the service life of concrete structures by 60 years or more, even in the moist environmental conditions in Bío Bío!”