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.