What are smart materials in architecture?
Smart buildings are becoming more and more agenda. Due to their refinement, some materials have been developed to meet specific purposes during their use without the need to be manipulated by humans or equipment. Self-maintenance, air purification, working in a comfortable space, and energy efficiency are just a few of the benefits that can be achieved by adopting them.
Before giving a few examples, it is important to emphasize that most of these materials are in development and have the potential to increase costs and still deal with cutting-edge technologies that are rarely on the market. is. However, given the demand and need for more sustainable solutions in the face of a climate crisis, products may be developed and improved over the next few years, making them more accessible. Then you will get to know some of them.
If cracks and crevices are left unrepaired, water can get inside the concrete structure and cause steel corrosion, impairing the mechanical quality of the structure. Bio-concrete or bacterial concrete incorporates several types of bacillus (bacteria) in a cement mixture, producing spores that can survive for up to 50 years without food or oxygen and can close cracks naturally. This minimizes the need for material maintenance. That can happen.
With four times the strength and light weight of regular reinforced concrete, this material uses carbon mesh instead of elemental iron, demonstrating resource and economic savings and less environmental damage. Its production is through a process of pyrolysis (pyrolysis) that is used to create a mesh in which ultrafine strands of carbon crystals are extracted and the concrete spreads before it hardens. Therefore, its advantage lies in the approximately 50,000 individual fibers that have been processed to form a grid structure, much thinner than human hair. In addition to allowing even larger spans without the risk of collapse, carbon concrete can produce much lighter prefabricated parts, eliminating the need for large cranes.
The material developed by Spanish students is a ceramic with hydrogel foam that can hold up to 400 times the volume in water. Due to this property, the sphere absorbs water and evaporates on hot days to cool the environment. On rainy or cold days, the foam grows in size, reconstructs and acts as insulation. Therefore, it improves the thermal comfort and energy efficiency of the building.
It is already possible to find self-cleaning materials on the market, such as paints, glass and ceramics. What they all have in common is that their composition contains titanium dioxide nanoparticles. This is the element that causes photocatalysis. That is, it speeds up the chemical reaction when exposed to light and removes microorganisms and dirt from the surface. For paints, it saves maintenance and repainting and is suitable for use in external areas such as façade and roof. After all, the heat of light (natural or artificial) causes the paint to release free radicals that break down. Contaminants such as nitrogen oxides reduce odors and improve the quality of urban air. In Rome, painting was done inside the tunnel, resulting in a 51% reduction in pollutants in the area.