Innovations in Construction

News of the latest inno­va­tions in con­struc­tion have been so impres­sive.. Here’s how a few the latest accom­plish­ments by researchers might change things for everyone.

Wave Benders. Researchers from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Missouri (UM) have made an amazing discovery. They developed a way to protect buildings against elastic waves without changing the mate­ri­al’s com­po­si­tion. Just think of the appli­ca­tions for this tech­nol­o­gy — these wave benders could protect buildings against seismic activity.

The research team accom­plished this by engraving a geometric pattern con­tain­ing microstruc­tures onto a steel plate (although they claim that other materials such as plastic and other metals would work just as well).

The geometric pattern with its microstruc­tures bends — or refracts — elastic and acoustic waves away from the steel plate. As a result, massive energy waves redirect them­selves around a building structure via the meta-material, which acts as a cloak around the structure researchers want to protect (meta-materials are those that sci­en­tists engineer to control and manip­u­late light, sound and other physical prop­er­ties).

According to the UM researchers, this technique will save struc­tures from damage caused by earth­quakes or tsunamis, which could save lives in res­i­den­tial buildings and other infrastructures.

Nanocrys­tal Rein­forced Concrete. Sci­en­tists have exper­i­ment­ed with adding nanocrys­tals to concrete. The nanocrys­tals come from cellulose derived from wood fiber and are extracted from the byprod­ucts of indus­tri­al agri­cul­ture, bio-energy and paper production.

Nanocrys­tals reinforce the mechan­i­cal and chemical prop­er­ties of the materials to which they are added. The nanocrys­tal rein­forced materials are stronger, more impact resistant and more flexible.

When sci­en­tists apply nanocrys­tals to concrete, builders can use less of it to achieve the same results, leading to a lower envi­ron­men­tal footprint.

Adding nanocrys­tals to the concrete curing process causes the material to use water more effi­cient­ly without changing its density or weight in a major way.

Right now, the material created is only one foot by six inches in diameter but the team is hoping to scale up in a few years so they can test the process on a larger scale.

3‑D Printed Concrete. Back in 2011, a research team at Lough­bor­ough Uni­ver­si­ty announced it had created a 3‑D printer that could create physical objects by following instruc­tions generated by a computer. We know this type of man­u­fac­tur­ing as additive because the process deposits layers of concrete according to precise directions.

At the time, the process was used to create a one ton rein­forced bench and a two-meter square curved panel. The­o­ret­i­cal­ly, the 3‑D printer could create a whole sky­scraper, but the con­struc­tion industry will probably prefer to print out building com­po­nents and special parts rather than a whole structure.

A Uni­ver­si­ty of Southern Cal­i­for­nia team has worked on 3‑D housing for the last 15 years or so. When applied to home building, the 3‑D printer is fast (it can create a home in 24 hours), does its magic on site and has almost no waste from pro­duc­tion. All of this makes it a promising avenue for afford­able housing, a pressing concern in a time when pop­u­la­tion growth and demand for housing are reaching critical mass.

In addition to more housing, 3‑D printing will allow the con­struc­tion industry to gain greater precision, reduce waste, and produce less CO2 emissions compared to tra­di­tion­al concrete building. The sig­nif­i­cant reduction in trans­porta­tion miles from on-site 3‑D printers will also result in sub­stan­tial energy savings.

The Bautex™ Wall System is another exciting con­struc­tion inno­va­tion. Bautex has created a new wall system that replaces wood frame, metal and concrete con­struc­tion for use in one- to three-floor buildings. The wall system is stronger and performs better than tra­di­tion­al concrete blocks. It can also be installed up to twice as fast as CMU, saving con­struc­tion time and labor. The Bautex wall system is easy to install, durable and energy efficient. It has a four-hour fire rating, as well as a storm rating that makes it suitable for use in tornado and hurricane safe rooms.

At the heart of the Bautex Wall System is the composite material that makes up each indi­vid­ual block. The material is a mixture of cement and expanded poly­styrene foam (EPS) that harnesses the building benefits of both. The Bautex material is light­weight, insu­lat­ing, and rot/rust-proof, all benefits from EPS. At the same time the cement allows the material to be strong, durable, and mold/mildew-resistant. The com­bi­na­tion of these two well-known building materials has created an inno­v­a­tive building product that changes the way walls are being built.

Visit our website to learn more about the inno­v­a­tive Bautex Wall System.