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New materials help change the way we construct and retrofit buildings and improve their life. The approaching seminar organised by ICI will be an eye-opener, says civil engineer R. Nagendra

Indian Concrete Institute – Bengaluru Centre, Karnataka, is organising “Concrete Panorama and Deminar – 2021”, a live product demonstration & exhibition on alternative materials and innovative technologies in concrete construction, showcasing the latest developments in India and abroad. The programme on March 16 and 17, along with a seminar, will be held at the BMS College of Engineering, Basavanagudi, Bengaluru.

The alternative building materials being used now are eco-friendly and sustainable and provide better, efficient, durable and cost-effective construction and also ensure judicious utilisation ofresources with least possible degradation of environment.

Nanotubes, nanosilica, new window material make a difference 

Building materials and technologies and building practices have evolved continuously. Housing and building conditions reflect the living standards of a society. Stones, mud, thatch and timber represent the earliest building materials used for the construction of dwellings. Hardly any energy is spent in manufacturing and use of these materials for construction. Durability of the materials, directly derived from soil, thatch, timber etc., is questionable.

FRP reinforced bars, aluminium reinforced bench are very useful. 

The demand for building materials has been continuously rising with the increasing need for housing both in rural and urban areas. Commercial exploitation of traditional building materials by various industries has aggravated the situation. It has, therefore, become necessary to think over this problem seriously and to provide some sustainable solution to make the alternative materials available to solve the housing problem.

At a time when it is buzzing with technological development, we cannot help but wonder at the material prospects seen emerging for the civil engineering industry. It is time to take a look at some of the major innovations in the world of construction. Two innovative rebar alternatives are Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) and aluminium which are non-corrosive as well as light in weight in comparison to traditional steel.

Infusing bacterial spores: The great downfall of concrete, the world’s most widely used building material, is the unavoidable cracking, caused by exposure to water and chemicals. But a new development from a team in the Netherlands could extend the life of concrete, by infusing it with bacterial spores that patch up cracks when water seeps through. Plans are in place to make this self-healing concrete commercial in the coming years.

Enabling technology: Nanotechnology is one of the most active research areas that encompasses a number of disciplines, including civil engineering and construction materials. It is the art and science of manipulating matter at the nano-scale. It is an enabling technology that allows us to develop materials with improved or totally new properties. Nanotechnology is the use of very small particles of material. A nanometre is a billionth of a metre. Use of nano fillers in concrete improves its weakness in tension and result in concrete with greatly improved stress-strain behaviour. The addition of nano silica fume improves the durability of concrete structures.

White pigment: TiO2 is a white pigment and can be used as an excellent reflective coating. It is hydrophilic and therefore gives self-cleaning properties to surfaces to which it is applied. The addition of small amounts (1% wt) of CNT (carbon nano tube) can improve the mechanical properties of samples consisting of the main portland cement phase and water.

Aero gel: It is solid with the lowest known density. It stands up to 2,000 times greater load than its own weight. It has extremely low thermal conductivity, and is suitable to limit the heat losses of buildings. Its melting temperature is 1,200 °C.

Life expectancy of the present-day reinforced concrete structures is about 100 years. The production of construction materials requires energy and generates greenhouse gases. Innovative materials offer opportunities to change the way in which we construct and retrofit buildings. They give added value in terms of increased performance and functionality.

Ancient structures were all un-reinforced and had good longevity, making them corrosion-free, unlike the threat of corrosion in present day structures. Hence ICI’s conference is planned to demonstrate and exhibit alternatives to steel reinforcement. A few lectures will also focus on advanced construction methodologies to overcome issues of early deterioration in structures.

(The author is the Chairman, Organising Committee, Concrete Panorama & Deminar-2021)

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