Five innovative materials that could change construction

Many of today’s most widely used building materials have limitations, especially with regard to their impact on the environment. In response, innovative engineers around the world have developed new building materials that could provide an alternative.

What’s the most widely used manmade material in the world? It surrounds you day and night – when you work, when you’re entertained and when you sleep.
The answer is cement.

Cement, along with other common construction materials such as bricks, wood, steel and glass, is used almost universally in construction. These popular building materials have become so ubiquitous in large part thanks to their versatility, low cost and practicality. Nonetheless, they have their limits.

For instance, the worldwide production of cement amounts to about 5 per cent of human-generated CO2 emissions every year, according to a 2017 study. Brick production is also blamed for a range of ills – including soil degradation from the sourcing of raw materials. And, of course, wood burns, steel rusts, and glass breaks.

In response to these drawbacks, engineers, scientists and start-ups are proposing alternative materials, which they say could help improve on our existing building staples. Here we look at five of the more intriguing ones.

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published on January 17, 2019 on eandt.theiet.org

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