4.1 Executive Summary
This report provides information on the existing applications of nanotechnology in construction and the relevant existing products on the market. Being an enabling tool nanotechnology finds applications in many areas of construction. In the first year of ObservatoryNANO project this study has focused on construction ceramics, cement, glass, insulation systems and paints.
Construction is one of the most strategic industries for Europe providing building and infrastructure on which all sectors of the economy depend. Construction sector is a settled, cost driven and a traditional sector. However, both economical and environmental considerations have been reshaping this sector and this industry has been adopting new technologies. Nanotechnology has a significant impact in the construction sector. Several applications have been developed for this specific sector to improve the durability and enhanced performance of construction components, energy efficiency and safety of the buildings, facilitating the ease of maintenance and to provide increased living comfort.
Main drivers to uptake new technologies and new materials in the construction sector are the regulations to enhance sustainability in all members of the value chain. Also longer service life, easier maintenance and reduced maintenance expenditures, easier handling of construction materials, cleaner processing technologies and increase safety are important factors that drive innovations in this sector. Even if there are important reasons to uptake nanotechnologies there have been critical barriers to be overcome to increase the market penetration of these new products and technologies. The biggest barrier is the cost of new processing technologies and new materials. Apart from the cost, consumer scepticism, lack of large-volume availability of new materials with reliable properties and also lack of awareness of the stakeholders of the industry about novelties are some of the barriers ahead of the spread of nanoenhanced products for construction in the market.
As previously mentioned nanotechnology has found applications in different areas of construction and already there are products on the market. However, penetration of these products is almost negligible. Today approximately 1% of the construction related products on the market have nanoenhanced feature(s). Since the present economic crisis has heavily affected the construction industry, demand and respective sales for all construction related products have declined enormously. Last years' trends for constructing new buildings have changed in favour of renovating buildings.
The sub-segments where nanotechnology has impacts and relevant products that exist on the market are briefly summarized as follows.
Nanoenhanced construction ceramics which include floor and wall tiles, countertop ceramics and sanitaryware products have found place on the market with self-cleaning, anti-bacterial, hygienic and scratch resistant features. These nanoenhanced products are usually 20 to 50 percent more expensive then their traditional counterparts. Currently market penetration of these nanoenhanced products are less than 0.5 percent. German company Nanogate AG is the main supplier of coatings that are used to bring new functionalities to construction ceramics.
In Europe some of the companies that have such products are Duravit, Roca, Erlus, Villeroy and Boch and etc.
Nanotechnology affects cement and concrete in different ways including their processing conditions, released CO2 emissions, service life and functionalities. Addition of nanoparticles will lead to stronger, more durable, self-healing, air purifying, fire resistant, easy to clean and quick compacting concrete. Some of the nanoparticles that could be used for these features are nano silica (silica fume), nanostructured metals, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and carbon nanofibers (CNFs). Concrete structures also make profit from nano-enhanced coatings that prevent graffiti and other unwanted stains to adhere on to it.
Nanoenhanced cement has already found use in construction sector, especially the ones which exhibit photocatalytic features. However, their application is, so far, limited to construction of buildings like churches, sensational bridges, etc. as some examples can be found in this report. Prices are still too high for it to become a common material between constructors. In Europe Italcementi, Heidelberg Cement, Lafarge, Clariant, Nanogate AG and BASF have either nanoenhanced cement or nanoadditives for cement / concrete products.
Windows - Glass
Nanotechnology will also have a considerable impact on glass and therefore on windows. For marketing purposes, these windows are commonly called smart windows which implies that they are multifunctional through their energy saving, easy cleaning, UV controlling and photovoltaic features. Another feature that nanotechnology brings to glasses is fire resistance via addition of fumed silica nanoparticles.
Pilkington and Saint Gobain are the leading producers of multifunctional advanced glasses both for construction and for automotive industries. Even the market penetration of these nanoenhanced glasses have been increasing slowly, still they are very expensive, approximately 30 to 80%, with respect to the traditional float glass.
Nanotechnology can facilitate developing high performance insulation materials / systems. Different forms of insulation solutions, like coatings, vacuum insulation glazing, and nanofoams can be realized.
BASF, Aspen Aerogels and Cabot Corporation are the well-known companies that have products on the market.
Rheology, settling, surface energy, corrosion resistance and mechanical properties of paint can be improved via addition of nanoparticles into paint. By addition of this nanoparticles paint gets scratchproof, easy cleaning, air purifying, UV resistant, water repellence, flame retardancy and anti-bacterial feature.
Penetration rate of nanoenhanced paints is relatively high compared to the other products mentioned here. These paints are sold on DIY stores which might have an effect on penetration rate. Jotun, Bioni CS GMBH, Yaşar Paint and Chemicals and Akzo Nobel are the leading paint companies in Europe with nanoenhanced paints on the market.
Visits: 4437, Published on: June, 10th 2009, 04:23 PM, Last edit: June, 19th 2009, 05:56 PM Size: 6 KByte