Blog Post

5 Things That Could Revolutionize the Heavy Civil Construction Industry

Over the last 10 years, technology has had a huge impact on the construction industry. Power distribution, heating, ventilation and lighting have changed thanks to innovations that have improved residential and commercial construction. Infrastructure has also benefited from improvements due to technology and advancement in the area of civil construction. New materials that are stronger and environmentally friendly have opened the door to exciting new possibilities.

1. Turning trash into bricks
Researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have developed a technique for making bricks using cigarette butts. Dealing with cigarette waste is a difficult environmental dilemma. By adding cigarette butts into clay bricks before firing enables the energy expended during the firing process to decrease by 58%. The firing process traps the poisonous pollutants so they cannot be leached into the environment leaving the finished bricks with the comparable structural properties of normal bricks. The finished bricks weigh less than traditional clay bricks and have better insulation capabilities.

2. Concrete that generates its own light
A process is being developed which will provide an alternative to the usual concrete mix required to make concrete. By using sulfur based concrete which can absorb and irradiate light, the applications could make a difference to the architectural market. Dr. José Carlos Rubio Avalos at the Michoacan University of San Nicolás de Hidalgo claims that it can be used in swimming pools, bathrooms kitchens, parking lots or in the energy sector for spaces that don’t have access to electricity. The material would charge by exposure to natural or artificial light and could create new sources of light that would not be high in energy consumption.

3. Protection from earthquakes
The Komatsu Seiten Fabric Laboratory located in Japan has created a thermoplastic carbon fibre composite which can be used to protect buildings from earthquakes. The fibre strands are extremely lightweight but have a high tensile body which provides buildings with a strong support system. 160 meters of the CABKOMA Strand Rod weigh only 12 kg and is easily transportable. Metal wire is generally five times heavier. In addition, the composite strands are eco-friendly.

4. Concrete that repairs Itself
Erik Schlangen of Delft Technical University in the Netherlands is testing a product that he calls “self-healing asphalt.”  Infusing concrete with a harmless limestone-producing bacteria creates a material which has the potential to self-heal micro-cracks in the presence of rainwater. It could reduce noise pollution and save millions in maintenance and repair.

5. Walls that could replace air conditioning
A team at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia have created a new material from a combination of clay and hydrogel. The material is referred to as hydroceramics and can cool building interiors by up to six degrees centigrade. The material can absorb up to 500 times its weight in water. On hot days, the contents evaporate which results in a decrease in temperature.
In the next 10 years, construction design will become increasingly sophisticated. Improved management methods and automation will positively affect productivity. More effective design decisions, insight and vision combined with creative technology will lead to extraordinary developments within the construction industry on a global level.
Which of these innovations are you most excited for? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!