Futuristic Products to Lookout in 2019
The dawn of every New Year inspires people to bring forth new resolutions. The building material industry is no different. The year gone past saw a tidal wave of innovative building products introduced to the market and this year proves to be just as promising.
Text: Leandra Monterio
The 2019 aims to be the year, that not only witnesses the introduction of new products but more importantly also see their implementation for the benefit of the industry. The much awaited and anticipated revolution in the building material industry is gaining momentum and the onset of advanced mediums of technology has enabled researches and product designers to take construction products development to the next level.
Biology to the Rescue
The essentiality of having environmentally conscious products has inspired a number of people to come up with alternatives for basic construction material. One such product was invented by the students of the University of Cape Town in South Africa. These pupils created the world’s first ever Bio-Brick using human urine. To produce this Bio-Brick they collected human urine and combined it with sand and bacteria. Once this combination is made it results in the formation of an enzyme known as urease. The end result of all these processes is the formation of a solid grey brick. The process of production is also green as it facilitates the production of nitrogen and phosphorous as by-products which can be used as soil fertilizers.
The entire aim of the process is to generate no waste. The Bio-Brick is yet to be introduced to the public. The main struggle is to get social acceptance of such a product. However, with the fast diminishing resources, manufacturing a brick out of human urine seems an ideal solution as that’s one we will never run out of.
Saving Plastics for Eternity
Plastic is a name to be abhorred in the world of eco-friendly. But the same plastic can save the world. The possibility of using plastic bottles in concrete for construction instead of natural sand is too good to be true. But, students of Goa’s Engineering College in collaboration with Bath University have done just that. A booming construction industry and rapid urbanization has resulted in a major shortage of sand. Unregulated extraction of sand from riverbeds and a desperate demand for more imports has led the researchers to look for viable alternatives.
The students replaced 10% of the sand in concrete with waste plastic bottles. The experiment found that concrete made with a mixture of ground-up plastic bottles is almost as strong as traditional cement. This innovative product is a step in the right direction especially for India’s battle with excessive plastic waste. Once brought to use the project has the potential to drastically change the future of construction sector. Not only will it be a solution for the illegal extraction of sand but will also solve the country’s issue with ever increasing plastic waste.
Down to Earth Materials
Every year tons of wood, paper and other cellulose materials are recycled, burned or disposed. To put these materials to better use a San Diego based company has come up with a solution. Noble Environmental Technologies has developed a project known as ECOR.
ECOR is a new green building material manufactured from fiber, water and heat. It was developed with the aim to solve one of the most challenging global issues of waste disposal and diversion. ECOR takes low value waste fiber and converts it into a high value building material that is 100% eco-friendly. It is a light, strong and flexible material that can be made in any shape. It can also be molded into complex shapes without the use of any harmful adhesive. In short, ECOR is an advanced environmental composite panel made from the conversion of abundant waste fiber, pressure and heat. The product offers a great opportunity to convert t waste to useful everyday materials such packaging or building components. Some of the leading global companies like Google, Starbucks, Whole Foods and Heineken are users of ECOR.
Future of Light is Curved
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED) lighting has introduced a paradigm shift in the way we think & use lighting. The bulky light fixtures will become a passé and OLED lights will light your world without shades, reflectors or diffusers. The new OLED lighting will emphasize the architecture rather than clutter it. Light will be generated naturally as areas of uniform soft emission rather than piercing points or tubes of light bulbs. OLED lighting lasts over 30 times longer than inefficient incandescent light bulbs and provides up to 80% better energy efficiency.
The lighting industry is just starting to scratch the surface in using this technology. For instance, LG’s flexible OLED lamps aim to make light bulbs obsolete. LG is offering the widest range of panels, including flexible panels. Philips/OLEDWorks is focused on functional light – bright, efficient and homogenous panels. Konica Minolta built the world’s most advanced OLED fab – a Roll-to-Roll flexible OLED lighting fab – that has a capacity to produce a million flexible and color-tunable OLED panels each month. Not surprisingly, OLED lighting exhibits key characteristics of a disruptive technology and as per industry predictions, OLED lighting market though a niche segment will reach to $1.5 billion in 2021 up from nearly $30 million in 2015.
Wood is the New Glass
The word out in the market is that glass will soon be replaced by glass. The new option in the windows and glass industry is translucent wood. Researchers from the University of Maryland devised a way to strip the colours and chemicals from a block of wood to leave behind a clear, transparent material that’s stronger and more insulating than glass and biodegrades better than plastic. The transparent wood is stronger than glass and won’t shatter on impact.
Currently, the researchers can only treat wood chunks that are up to about four inches to a side and are limited to about a centimetre in thickness, although they have made clear wood that is as thin as a sheet of paper as well with 90% transmittance rate of light. A separate team of Swedish researchers also recently managed to create transparent wood with a similar method. Come 2019 and it won’t be long that we will be using wood for door & window frames as well as for their glass panes.