The future always brings about exciting new developments for Structural Engineers. Here are 10 types of building materials that are straight out of a science fiction novel that engineers can look forward to working with sometime in the near future:
1. Translucent Concrete
Translucent concrete is made from a substance called Litracon, which is a merging of optical fibers and fine concrete. This material comes prefabricated in blocks for easy construction and looks like translucent glass but is as strong as concrete.
2. Bacteria Building Blocks
This one if probably the one that’s most out there on this list but biological building blocks have been grown in a lab using bacteria. Scientists believe that in the near future bacteria can be used to grow very durable building materials that can be used for building colonies on Mars.
3. Concrete That Lasts 16,000 Years
This type of concrete is currently under development at MIT, not only will this futuristic concrete be durable, long lasting, thinner and lighter — it will also reduce carbon emissions associated with the manufacturing of building materials.
4. Hemp Biocomposite
Hemp is an all purpose plant and now it can also be used to create eco-friendly building materials. Hempcrete will be prefabricated into blocks so it’s easy to work with for structural engineers.
5. Bendable Concrete
This is a type of self-healing material that is very flexible as a result. This type of concrete can bend under enormous pressure but will still not break, it would be perfect for creating curved structures more practically.
This material is so light you can’t even feel it when holding it in your hands. Aerogel has the lowest bulk density of any known porous solid at this time and it works as a powerful insulating material, which is what it is being used for as of now.
7. Novacem Carbon-Eating Cement
This material is set to revolutionize the way concrete is made. Currently concrete production is responsible for up to 5% of CO2 emissions and Novacem is designed specifically to reduce those numbers to 0.
This material is made from disposable drinking straws — it’s a flexible and translucent material that’s formed with a honeycomb matrix. Although it’s not very durable it can still be used to make things like lighting fixtures or other interesting interior structures.
9. Kinetic Glass
This is a material that’s also called living glass and can be used to monitor CO2 levels in the air and automatically open and close gills in response to these emissions. This helps regulate air quality without the use of a thermostat or other such tools.
10. Invisible Solar Cells
This is the same as solar panels except the material is transparent like glass and can be expected to replace regular glass windows in the future.
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