From self-repairing concrete to double-pane solar windows, there have been some exciting developments in improving certain materials used in the construction trade. Researchers hope that implementing many of these innovations will not only improve the durability of the materials that are being used in their projects but will also lessen their environmental impact.

New Concrete Formulas

Arguably one of the most common construction materials, concrete provides a variety of advantages to the industry. But, in spite of the fact that the durability of concrete is considered to be very high, it’s only a matter of time before certain elements cause cracks. Researchers and scientists from around the globe are on a mission to solve this by developing different types of self-healing concrete.

  • Researchers associated with Binghamton University-State University of New York and Rutgers University have developed a self-healing fungi concrete that could help permanently repair cracks. But, it remains unknown how the fungus will survive within concrete’s harsh environment.
  • A team from Cardiff University based in Wales tested a variety of concrete-healing technologies ranging from shape-memory polymers and pumping organic and inorganic materials into the concrete’s surface to using healing agents and bacteria via small capsules.
  • Yet another technology was tested at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, that used various fibers such as fly ash and wood cellulose as a potential formula for self-healing concrete.
  • Some construction organizations are also learning from ancient civilizations, like the Romans, who were able to build concrete structures that seem to get stronger with age.

Other Material Advancements

In addition to finding ways to improve the durability of concrete materials, researchers are developing new formulas to make blocks lighter and more sustainable than traditional concrete in hopes of making it easier and quicker for those working construction jobs to install. One of the formulas uses fly ash which is much more sustainable than most standard ingredients.

3-D printed structures are also on the horizon as engineers continue to experiment with the technology. Some recent projects in this space include the world’s first 3-D printed concrete bridge. The 26-foot-long structure used 800 layers of reinforced, pre-stressed concrete. The process took three months and lessened the amount of required concrete that would have been used by other methods.

Demand for Renewables Continues to Grow

Construction materials that enable the owners of buildings to harness the energy of nature continue to grow in demand. From wind farms to solar windows, construction recruiters are looking for candidates to build energy-related projects as more U.S. cities pledge to transition to renewable energy. Chicago appears to be just one of the hotspots in the US for renewable energy. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel stipulated that more than 900 city-owned buildings will shift to renewable energy by 2025.

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