Even though concrete is the world’s most highly used construction material, scientists have failed to understand very important fundamental aspect of the material, until now.
A group of researchers from MIT, Georgetown, and CNRS in France believe they have finally figured out whether or not concrete is actually a solid, continuous material, like stone, or a group of materials that are packed so tightly together that they only act like a continuous material. The team found that although there is always a smaller particle that fills open space in the concrete (which would make it a continuous material), concrete never really stops moving, which is why it’s susceptible to cracking and degrading.
So what’s the big deal about a bunch of science junkies looking at concrete through some microscopes and figuring this out? This research could lead to better, more environmentally stable concrete. Because concrete is so widely used and it takes so much heat to cook limestone for cement mixtures, it is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases. Optimizing the cement mixture makeup to coincide with this new research data could not only reduce the amount of heat necessary, it could also lower the amount of water needed.
Speaking of water, it’s been widely accepted that the freeze-thaw cycle of water inside the concrete causes cracking as the water expands, but the team says that’s not actually the case. Water can actually enter through pores which range in size from 15 to 20 nanometers (read: super small, one nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) and the water alone causes cracks and further concrete degradation without the help of freezing.
Full story: Riddle of cement’s structure is finally solved | MIT
Solar roofs are an obviously popular choice for those interested in conserving energy, but traditional panels are extremely clunky and expensive. Tesla and CEO Elon Musk announced last year that they have solved that issue, which the impending release of Tesla Solar Roof, which look like a traditional roof shingle.
3D printing technology faces major issues when it is required to leave the shelter of a warehouse and step foot on a construction job site. 3D printers are extremely large, heavy, and rely on precise calibration for accuracy. Even the first 3D printed office building in Dubai, which was completed last year, had to actually have its components printed off site and assembled on site. But, Apis Cor, a 3D printing company, believes it has created the technology to print a full structure completely on site.
The concept of solar roadways has been in the news a lot recently. Using the millions of miles of roadways throughout the world to also create power seems like a no brainer, the asphalt and concrete we’re using now aren’t really accomplishing anything more than handling the traffic on the road. But, there’s also a very strong reason why those products are used: they’re strong, reliable, and relatively durable. Still, many researchers believe there is a lot of unharnessed potential for roads and the world now has a very strong test subject for the future of solar roadways in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France.
3D printed construction has been on top of the news the past few years, but we have yet to truly see many real world applications of the process. Last year, Dubai unveiled a completed 3D printed office building, which they say was built in only 19 days, but news has been pretty slow until the world’s first 3D printed bridge was completed recently.
It’s no secret that the United States dominates when it comes to LEED certified construction projects. The US actually has more total gross square meters and number of LEED projects than the the other top 10 countries combined, by almost 3 times, totaling 336.84 million gross square meters over 27,699 LEED projects! China, Canada, and India are ranked number 2, 3, and 4, respectively.
The US Green Building Council recently released their annual top 10 list of states for LEED construction in 2016.
Green building is no longer something that can be ignored. According to the USGBC, green building will account for ⅓ of all construction projects by the year 2018, which is now only 1 short year away. Construction is one of the leading industries in regards to the production of greenhouse gases, most notably due to the production of cement, which produces an estimated 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions alone. There are many companies throughout developing new techniques and building products to help reduce the industry’s impact, so here’s a list of 6 products that caught our eye in 2016.
Green building is big business these days and it’s expected to account for 1/3 of all construction projects in the United States by the year 2018. LEED, being the poster child for green construction and the world’s most widely used green building rating system, is expected to directly contribute to 386,000 jobs by 2018, as well. Though green building is a concept used significantly throughout the world, as seen in projects like the world’s first zero energy hotel, the United States absolutely dominates the industry with respect to LEED.
Concrete is one of the world’s favorite building materials; it’s strong, simple to mix, and generally widely available. Its dirty little secret has always been centered around one of its main ingredients: cement. To make cement, crushed rock and other ingredients are fed into a kiln that heats the components at temperatures reaching 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Those extreme temperatures cause large amounts of carbon dioxide to be released into the air and, combined with the carbon dioxide that’s produced just to burn the fossil fuels to heat the kiln, it makes cement one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases in the world, 5% in total.
One of the toughest aspects of construction in heavily populated or close-quarters areas is the control of noise and other pollutants. The public’s worries about these items can stall or kill projects before they begin. If and when they project actually begins, complaints can roll into the governing agencies causing project delays and/or fines.
Arup, a design, engineering, and consulting team in the United Kingdom, has been developing a living wall system, which they think can reduce the noise and improve the air quality surrounding ongoing construction projects.
World’s fairs have been held in varying locations across the globe since 1844 and are responsible for some of the most memorable buildings and structures that still stand today. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was originally built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was built to coincide with the 1939 World Fair, and Seattle’s Space Needle was designed and built for the 1962 World’s Fair (you can check out photos of the construction here), just to name a few.
At the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, 16 homes were constructed for display to promote new building products and materials to the fair-goers.