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.