Innovation drives improvements in the construction industry. Over the years, they have made incredible strides in improving the efficiency and safety of large-scale projects: the impact of inventions can be seen in all sectors of the construction industry, from architecture software to construction machines. But the most impressive are the building materials that make it possible to turn futuristic projects into reality.
We already know that hemp can be used as an inexpensive, low-carbon way to reinforce concrete, that plastic is stronger than steel, and that mushroom columns are easy to 3D print. Researchers are developing materials that perform better and are less harmful to the environment. In the near future, we will see construction from natural substances, including hemp and mycelium, as well as synthetic materials such as carbon fiber and high-quality plastics.
Made of Air, a German sustainable materials startup uses a patented bioplastic of the same name to absorb pollution. It is a non-toxic substance made from biochar. The charcoal-like material is almost pure carbon and is produced by burning biomass, such as wood trimmings and recycled agricultural materials (the process takes place without access to oxygen). The biochar is then mixed with a sugar cane binder, resulting in a material that can be melted and molded like a conventional thermoplastic. Using bioplastics as a building material, the startup plans to eliminate up to a gigatonne of carbon dioxide per year by 2050.
Alusion Aluminium Panels
Alusion panels are one of the most innovative materials in the building industry. They are a form of cladding made from stabilized aluminum foam. They are strong and light like metal sponges, fireproof, soundproof, and easy to install. They are commonly used as wall panels, ceilings, fixtures, and flooring.
London-based Blast Studio has developed a mycelium 3D printing method and used it to form a support. The column was built by mixing mycelium with raw materials from used coffee cups collected from all over London. The harvested raw material is fed into a custom-made low-temperature extruder, similar to the one used for clay 3D printing. After being printed in shape, the mycelium absorbs the paper cups and expands to take over the entire support. At the same time, it additionally produces mushrooms that can be picked and eaten.
It turns out cement can absorb sunlight during the day and emit light at night. Currently, light-generating cement comes in two colors, blue and green. This material can be used in parking lots, swimming pools, and sidewalks.
Hemp rebar is being developed at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the USA. It turns out that hemp is one of the most carbon-absorbing plants in the world. It is hoped that it will provide a low-cost, low-carbon alternative to standard steel rebar and will also avoid the corrosion problem, extending the life of concrete structures.
It is an innovative type of concrete that mimics the self-healing properties of the human body. It is believed that this could be a breakthrough in the construction industry. The material will allow you to create structures without worrying about their intensive maintenance and damage. Self-healing concrete is produced by mixing adhesive properties and healing agents or bacteria in the concrete mixture. Such properties of concrete increase its service life and reduce repair costs. It can be a wonderful material for sidewalks and parking lots. While this technology is still at the research stage.
Graphene is a single atomic layer of carbon atoms organized into a hexagonal lattice. When sheets of graphene are neatly stacked on top of each other, they form a three-dimensional shape. This innovative building material is ten times stronger than steel at just 5% density. Cylindrical structures are created from 3D graphene to support skyscrapers and other tall buildings.
Concrete Reinforced With Carbon
This newly developed type of concrete is reinforced with carbon fiber strands, so much less concrete is needed for the same strength structure. Its creation was carried out by researchers from the Technical University of Dresden. The first Cube building has already been built using the new technology, the German architectural firm Henn was responsible for its construction – and in it the wall and ceiling are no longer separate components, but functionally merge with each other as an organic continuum. Carbon concrete can be used for more than just reinforcing or repairing bridges or structures. It enables new ways of construction: the material allows the interior walls of buildings to be made of panels only a few centimeters thick, which ensures a slender and light aesthetics of the entire project. Thus, potential applications extend across the entire spectrum of construction equipment – be it refurbishment or new construction. Researchers are currently exploring ways to create carbon fibers from lignin (rather than petroleum), a common plant-based substance that is a by-product of the paper industry. It is predicted that bio-based carbon fibers will not yet be able to replace petroleum-based fibers, as they do not yet have the same characteristics.
Transparent wood is a revolutionary invention in the construction industry. It has the same strength as lumber but is lighter. This advanced material is made by pressing and polymerizing thin strips of wood. Transparent wood is a great alternative to glass and plastic. It does not break on impact and is stronger than glass. It eliminates glare and helps maintain a constant temperature in the building. This material also reduces energy consumption by minimizing the need for artificial lighting. Usually, it is a roof and walls.
Used Loofah Bricks
Developed by researchers at the Indian School of Design and Innovation in Mumbai, these bio-bricks are made up of soil, cement, charcoal, and organic fibers from loofah, better known as loofah, a plant commonly used to make bath sponges.
The key difference from ordinary bricks is air. Because the blocks contain more air pockets than standard blocks, making them 20 times more porous. These air bubbles, created by natural gaps in the loofah’s fibrous mesh, are important to plants also because they allow the bricks to harbor animal and plant life.