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Nanotechnology in Construction

-By Shubham Bhatia

Nanotechnology is the active research fields which include distinct disciplines like civil engineering and materials of construction, this applied science is the ability to understand, restructuring and restraint of matter in the order of nanometer to make materials with modern functions and properties.

Concrete is a nanostructured, multi-phase, composite and ubiquitous material that ages with time. It consists of an amorphous phase, nanometer to micrometer size crystal particles and bound water. The amorphous phase calcium silicate hydrate is the component that holds concrete together.

Nanotechnology encircles two important approaches and they are: 1. Top down approach: In the top-down approach, the bigger structures are decreased in size to nanoscale by assisting their genuine properties. 2. Bottom-up approach: In bottom-up approach, the materials go through the machines from components of the molecule by the process of self-gathering.


Applications of nanotechnology in construction:

1. Nano reinforcement          Carbon nanotubes or carbon fibres have high modulus of elasticity and also several chemical and electronic properties which enables them to gain high tensile strength. They are high structured materials having high surface areas due to which bonding between nanofibers and cement paste is possible.

2. Nanocoating     In coating, there is a formation of chemical vapour deposition layer. The layer gets attached to the material base and also serves the protective function. 

3. Fire protection     Fire protection is enabled to the steel structures generally by a coating of polymers through sprays. Polypropylene fibres are used for providing fire resistance.

4. Nanocomposites     Nanocomposites are the multiphase materials having significant proportions in each phase. The properties of nanocomposites depend on the matrix material. They generally help the structures to withstand loading, maintain size, shape and their orientation.

5. Nanotechnology in steel structures     The use of nanotechnology in steel structures helps in improving the properties of steel like fatigue strength of steel due to cyclic loading is improved. Use of copper nanoparticles decrease the surface roughness of steel. It also helps to make the structure corrosion resistant.

6. Nanotechnology in welds and joints     The techniques of nanopowders are used for the polishing of the surface and for the fusion welding. They decrease the effect of defects and nanolayer in case of pressure welding.

  • Future challenges and directions:     With the advancement of technology challenges occur during the application of the idea into reality. The following main challenges that exist can be classified under: Health, Environment and Cost.
  • Health:    The nanotechnology based products might be harmful to human health. They might cause respiratory problems to the workers.
  • Environment:    Most of the nanomaterials used in the construction are non-biodegradable. The materials might leach into the groundwater and pollute it. More efforts are thus to be done to create the nanomaterials which do not have harmful effects on the environment.
  • Cost:     The costs of the nanotechnology material and their equipment is exceptionally high. This is mainly due to the advanced technology and equipment used in the preparation of such materials. It is thus a challenge to provide such facilities to the common man at a reasonable cost.

Conclusions:

    Nanotechnology is a brisk expanding area of research based on the use of nanomaterials for constructing infrastructure.

     Nanotechnology has shown scope for the construction techniques that can change the service life and cost of the construction infrastructure.

    Nanotechnology can be beneficial to provide longer life and more economical transport infrastructure.

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