Innovative Materials that are set to change the Building Industry
Sustainable development is one of the most urgent challenges nowadays. Therefore, we are increasingly paying more attention to investing in initiatives that promote sustainability, recyclable materials, new growth models, and environmentally-conscious lifestyles.
We can see how almost every country is encouraging the development and construction of well-designed smart and green buildings that are built with cutting-edge, recyclable, and eco-friendly materials.
But the real question is: are these innovative materials capable of revolutionizing the building construction industry?
The answer is yes, of course! In recent years, various materials and products have been placed on the market thanks to the evolution of bio-architecture and the progressive demand for eco-sustainable buildings, where the prerogative of building materials is to ensure high energy efficiency in full respect of the environment.
Sustainable buildings: smart materials
Self-cleaning and self-repairing concrete, augmented woods, smart sensors, etc.
The spectrum of new intelligent materials appears extremely rich and diverse, and it will grow even more in the years to come.
But what makes a material a “smart material”? Its capacity to pass from a static to a dynamic condition; that is, it can react to a series of external stimuli, such as temperature, light, electricity, pressure, etc.
Examples of smart materials:
1) Carbon-fiber reinforced concrete is corrosion resistant and is five times more durable than reinforced concrete, thus ensuring a longer duration in time.
2) “Smog-eating” concrete is a truly eco-smart material capable of getting rid of pollution in the surrounding air, improving air quality in high-density cities, and maintaining the aesthetic characteristics of buildings over time.
3) Self-healing concrete contains bacteria that, when in contact with water, produce limestone to fill any cracks that occur, also avoiding internal corrosion of the structure.
4) The hi-tech insulation felt, patented by a research team of the Department of Industrial Engineering of the University of Trento, is a special fabric with extraordinary insulating power. Flexible and soft but, at the same time, very resilient. It is also fireproof and extremely resistant to liquids and hot gases filtrations and to the absorption of electromagnetic radiation.
5) Augmented wood, an eco-sustainable, renewable and natural smart wood,
It looks like wood, but its composition has been modified to give it new properties. The result? A malleable and weather-and-fire-proof resource which requires less maintenance than conventional wood.
Turning Food waste such as rice into construction materials
Even food waste and those deriving from agriculture, in general, represent a fertile ground for the construction sector, as they can be transformed into super functional materials that can be used in green building.
In pole position, we find in Italy a commonly grown grain, rice.
The innovative idea that rice can be used for materials was first grasped by Ricehouse, a Piedmontese startup that has found a way to transform a former food waste into materials for green building.
The result? 6 new biocompounds:
- the lightweight screed RH300,
- the RH400 clay plaster,
- the RH500 eco-paint,
- the RH600 closing panel for insulation,
- the RH700 sheet for dry cladding of walls and false ceilings,
- the RH1000 closing panel with structural function.
Rice straw, mixed with wasted wool can be transformed into thermal insulation and sound-absorbing panels that can be used in green building, while from the oil extracted from the rice husks it is possible to obtain 100% eco-sustainable products such as bio-adhesives and food supplements.
Not only do these unique qualities of smart materials increase the performance and energy efficiency of a structure, but they are crucial to the building industry to be adopted as an ethical and sustainable approach, fitting into a circular economy context.
Structural health monitoring for the buildings of the future
Have you ever heard of structural health monitoring? This term refers to a system that records, processes and evaluates data to detect any structural changes, deterioration, and damage all in real time.
How? A network of fiber-optic sensors remotely monitors and collect data at carefully selected positions throughout the building.
Furthermore, in the not-too-distant future building materials will be increasingly internet-connected: thanks to wireless sensors, it will be possible to monitor public works such as viaducts, dams, tunnels and bridges.
These intelligent materials will therefore allow humans to be able to better manage maintenance activities and intervene only when necessary, minimizing the waste of unnecessary resources.
And did you know that at Sotefin we attach great importance to sustainability? We care about the use of materials and technologies and topics that are increasingly crucial for the environment.
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