The world of construction materials is constantly evolving. New construction materials are being researched and offered to the public all the time. Here are some of the new construction materials – some still in development, some being implemented in the real world – that excite us the most.
Composites Made from Mushrooms
In an effort to reduce pollution and adjust to the rapidly growing human population, several researchers have been developing fungal based composites. The composite is made of organic substrates and fungal mycelium, with the mycelium acting as the adhesive to hold together the organic substrates.
So far, researchers have determined that fungal based composites are extremely thermally stable, with hydrophobic properties, and high mechanical strength. This material is unique because it is also low cost and recyclable, unlike some other environmentally friendly options.
Hopefully, with a bit more development, fungal based composites can be another way to replace nonbiodegradable, high emission, and high cost materials.
A Passive Evapotranspiration System Using Hydroceramics
Made with clay and hydrogel, Hydroceramics are a new façade material develop by Students at Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.
This new material is made up of four layers: a clay breathing layer, a stretching fabric, the balls of hydrogel, and a clay supporting layer.
Hydrogel is a relatively new hydrophilic polymer that doesn’t dissolve in water. This is highly absorbent. It can absorb up to 500 times its own weight in water. The water is absorbed into the hydrogel and then evaporated into the building – a bit like a swamp cooler.
Clay was selected because of its porous nature. Other option like acrylic and aluminum were tested, but clay helped with the evaporation of the water in the hydrogel the best.
Using this new building material, we can achieve passive cooling for buildings. Hydroceramics helps increase the humidity too. Testing showed that it is capable of reducing the room temperature by 5 degrees Celsius and increasing the humidity by 15%.
Because this is such an inexpensive, low tech alternative it can easily be used in remote areas and for low income populations. The students who developed the material estimate that this could help reduce electricity needed for cooling by 28 percent.
Normally when roofing a building, you have to apply an adhesive and then wait for it to cure. It is time consuming and tedious to apply the adhesive over the whole roof. If weather rolls in while the adhesive is curing, this could lessen the strength of the adhesive. It also creates fumes that can be toxic to those working on and in the building.
A recent development to lessen the pain of installing roofing is self-adhered membrane. Companies like Sika USA and Polyglass have developed self-adhered membranes. There are two main layers where self-adhered membranes could be of benefit: the underlayment and the weathering.
Recently a school board building in Louisiana had their roofing replaced using a combination of Polyglass products. The Project Manager for the project said “With Polyglass ADESO [self-adhered] membranes, we get the best of both worlds: a product that can be installed both safely and efficiently, as well as achieve better performance than systems installed with traditional methods thanks to innovations such as FASTLap® & SEALLap® ULTRA.”