Nanomaterials Aim for Big Construction Possibilities

Traditional construction materials may have some new competition, as a report in ACS Nano highlights a new genre of nanomaterials a mere 1/50,0000th the width of a human hair.

The nanomaterials are set to debut in everything ranging from offices to bridges.  With an architectural and construction focus (there are biomedical and electronic applications as well), these nanomaterials are poised to improve a variety of applications, including strengthening concrete, flame-proofing, anti-reflection, rapid hydration and serve as self-sanitizing coatings.

The report identifies improved energy efficiency and benefits as a result of nanonmaterial integration, but there are concerns regarding the new construction technology as well.

Potential health and environmental risks are associated with the nanomaterials that require specific use and disposal methods to glean the benefits without hazardous consequences.

Some potential dangers associated with the nanomaterials are cell wall disruption, DNA/RNA damage, direct cell membrane oxidation, dissolution of toxic metal components and ROS-induced oxidative stress.

While it is clear that nanomaterials have plenty of construction industry potential, new precautions and standards must be followed to minimize the risks associated with the technology.

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CREDIT: Jeff Fitlow, Rice University

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