In the search for solutions to protect the environment while saving time and money, scientists at top universities around the world have developed exciting new construction materials. Innovations like these, plus augmented reality, BIM, and drones, are transforming the construction industry.
Here are seven of the most interesting new construction materials you need to know about.
CABKOMA Strand Rod
Because it's made of thermoplastic carbon fiber, the CABKOMA strand rod is five times lighter than a metal rod and more durable. It also creates an aesthetically pleasing look on buildings.
CABKOMA puts less strain on the building structure, helping it withstand earthquakes. In fact, many construction companies are retrofitting buildings with carbon fiber for this very purpose. Komatsu Seiten, the company behind it, uses it in their own building.
More than 1.2 million tons of cigarette butts end up in the garbage every year according to RMIT University scientists. The next time you see some lying on the ground consider this: cigarettes can be recycled into lighter, durable, and energy-efficient bricks. Bricks containing just 1 percent of cigarette butts can reduce brick production costs and ease the strain on the environment.
The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia has developed a system known as hydroceramics. These cooling bricks, made from a combination of clay and hydrogel, line the outside of buildings to create a cooling effect on the insides. As air enters, the hydrogel absorbs the water and stores it within the bricks. On hot days, the brick releases the water to cool the building. This cooling effect can cut energy consumption in larger buildings by potentially lowering indoor temperatures up to six degrees.
Light-Generating or Illuminating Cement
Dr. Jose Carlos Rubio Avalos of UMSNH of Morelia has developed cement with the ability to absorb and expose light. When made at room temperature, the cement uses less energy.
Illuminating cement may be the next big thing for roads. It traps sunlight and releases it at night to create a glowing surface. Because of this, roads and other lit spaces can reduce lighting and save on costs. Other uses include swimming pools and sidewalks.
Pollution-Absorbing or Breathing Bricks
This innovation comes from the scientists at Cal Poly who have discovered a way for walls to do more than provide support. They found a way to turn bricks into air-cleaning devices that work like mini vacuums. Breathing bricks suck in polluted air, filter it through a cone, and release clean air back into the environment. The nice thing is that you can use them on existing buildings to take advantage of their filtering capabilities. Construction companies and buildings will largely benefit from this passive air filtration system as it will help them meet air quality regulations for commercial structures.
Self-healing or Self-repairing Concrete
Repairing cracks in concrete is an expensive and time-consuming process. Dutch engineer Dr. Erik Shlangen at Delft University solves the problem with self-healing concrete that repairs itself upon exposure to heat. Here’s how: You can break the material in two, put the pieces together, and heat it. Upon cooling down, the melted material binds together. Self-repairing concrete on structures such as buildings, bridges, and tunnels will cost less to build and maintain, which could potentially save $90 million per year.
Wood is one of the most readily available and cheapest resources. KTH Royal Institute of Technology researchers have found a way to make it translucent, as well as mass produce it. Producing translucent wood starts with removing the lignin to turn it white. Then, nanoscale tailoring makes it transparent, letting light pass through. Possible uses include windows and solar panels.
Although these new construction materials will lead to millions of dollars in savings, it's still critical to protect them, as well as other equipment, on your construction sites. When valuable assets are stolen, not only would you incur the costs to replace them, your production time could be delayed while you wait for the new materials to arrive.
A proactive security solution, like remote video surveillance can help safeguard your site. Trained operators watch activity in real time to catch events as they happen, for up to 60% off the cost of a traditional security guard.