Small materials poised for big impact in construction

Nov 03, 2010
Pedro Alvarez (left) and Jaesang Lee are pictured with a concrete cylinder and a steel I-beam, which are among the construction materials that manufacturers could improve with nanomaterials. Credit: Jeff Fitlow, Rice University

Bricks, blocks, and steel I-beams -- step aside. A new genre of construction materials, made from stuff barely 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, is about to debut in the building of homes, offices, bridges, and other structures. And a new report is highlighting both the potential benefits of these nanomaterials in improving construction materials and the need for guidelines to regulate their use and disposal. The report appears in the monthly journal ACS Nano.

Pedro Alvarez and colleagues note that likely will have a greater impact on the construction industry than any other sector of the economy, except biomedical and electronics applications. Certain nanomaterials can improve the strength of concrete, serve as self-cleaning and self-sanitizing coatings, and provide many other construction benefits. Concerns exist, however, about the potential adverse health and environmental effects of construction nanomaterials.

The scientists analyzed more than 140 studies on the benefits and risks of nanomaterials. They found that the materials can provide a wide variety of benefits for the construction industry, ranging from greater strength and durability to improved energy efficiency. The report also identified potential adverse health and environmental effects, and cites the importance of developing guidelines to regulate the use and disposal of construction nanomaterials.

Explore further: From tobacco to cyberwood

More information: "Nanomaterials in the Construction Industry: A Review of Their Applications and Environmental Health and Safety Considerations", ACS Nano.

Related Stories

Nanomaterials poised for big impact in construction

Jul 29, 2010

Nanomaterials are poised for widespread use in the construction industry, where they can offer significant advantages for a variety of applications ranging from making more durable concrete to self-cleaning ...

Could nanotechnology revolutionize natural gas industry?

Oct 30, 2007

Nanotechnology could revolutionize the natural gas industry across the whole lifecycle from extraction to pollution reduction or be an enormous missed opportunity, claim two industry experts writing in Inderscience's International Jo ...

Report Analyzes Construction Pollution Impact in California

Dec 05, 2006

In California, pollution from construction equipment in 2005 was responsible for an estimated 1,132 premature deaths, nearly 183,000 lost work days, 1,086 hospitalizations, and $9.1 billion dollars in annual costs, according ...

A need for improved efficiency in nanomanufacturing

Oct 28, 2008

New research shows that environmental gains derived from the use of nanomaterials may be offset in part by the processes used to manufacture them. Research published in a special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology, a peer ...

EPA announces research strategy to study nanomaterials

Sep 29, 2009

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today outlined a new research strategy to better understand how manufactured nanomaterials may harm human health and the environment. Nanomaterials are materials that are between approximately ...

Nanomaterials May Have Large Environmental Footprint

Oct 22, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Environmental gains derived from the use of nanomaterials may be offset in part by the process used to manufacture them, according to research published in a special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ec ...

Recommended for you

From tobacco to cyberwood

14 hours ago

Swiss scientists from ETH Zurich have developed a thermometer that is at least 100 times more sensitive than previous temperature sensors. It consists of a bio-synthetic hybrid material of tobacco cells and nanotubes.

'Atomic chicken-wire' is key to faster DNA sequencing

20 hours ago

An unusual and very exciting form of carbon - that can be created by drawing on paper- looks to hold the key to real-time, high throughput DNA sequencing, a technique that would revolutionise medical research ...

Chemists make new silicon-based nanomaterials

Mar 26, 2015

Chemists from Brown University have found a way to make new 2-D, graphene-like semiconducting nanomaterials using an old standby of the semiconductor world: silicon.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.