Since the beginning of humanity, we have incorporated different elements to build homes, roads, pyramids, temples, fortresses, among others. The human being has sought and refined each time the components that he uses to erect. And this search does not stop.
Here are three construction technologies that seem unreal, but are increasingly used.
Concrete is the most widely used material in the construction sector. In fact, it is the second most-consumed substance on the planet after water. It is a matter of looking around us, we live in a jungle of cement and concrete. Buildings, houses, churches, bridges, and roads, mostly made of this material. Therefore, seeking to improve it technologically is an important mission.
In this regard, in 2010 a professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Rhode Island created a new “smart” type of concrete that “repairs” itself. The concrete mix is embedded with small capsules of sodium silicate. When a crack forms, the capsules break and release a gel-like “cure” agent that hardens to fill the gap, ending the usual repairs.
However, it is not the only “self-healing” technology that has been developed, also some research centers have used polymer microcapsules and even bacteria.
Build with CO2:
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from power plants and cars is the largest source of man-made greenhouse gases.
Every year, we pump more than 30 billion metric tons (33 billion tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere, accelerating the damaging effects of global warming.
While the energy sector is experimenting with capturing or “sequestering” underground CO2 emissions, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has successfully used genetically modified yeast to convert CO2 into solid construction materials into carbon base.
MIT researchers were inspired by nature, this time the abalone. Like other crustaceans, abalone can convert CO2 and minerals from the ocean into calcium carbonate to build their rock-hard shells.
The researchers isolated the enzyme that abalone uses to mineralize CO2 and designed a batch of yeast to produce it. A glass full of genetically modified yeast can produce 1 kilogram of solid carbonate from just 0.5 kilograms of CO2. Can you imagine how many carbon bricks they could make with 30 billion metric tons of CO2?
For decades, chemical engineers have dreamed of a material that combines the strength and durability of metal with the crystalline purity of glass. Such “transparent metal” could be used to build tall glass-walled skyscrapers that require less internal support.
In the 1980s, scientists began experimenting with a new type of ceramic made from a powdered mix of aluminum, oxygen, and nitrogen. A ceramic is any hard material, generally crystalline, that is made by a heating and cooling process. In this case, the aluminum powder is placed under immense pressure, heated for days at 2,000 degrees C (3,632 degrees F), and finally polished to produce a perfectly transparent glass material with the strength of aluminum.
Known as clear aluminum or ALON, the space-age material is already being used by the military to make armored windows and optical lenses.