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Nanomaterials for Architecture & Building

Credits: ©2011 Center for Functional Nanomaterials (at Brookhaven

New materials are being created on a microscopic scale that will potentially improve buildings and our lives. They can be metals, ceramics, polymers or composites. Known as nanomaterials, nanocomposites, and manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs), the method of making these materials begins at the molecular or atomic level, sometimes creating new products with extraordinary physical and chemical properties. For example, a carbon nanotube has strength 150 times that of steel but is approximately six times lighter. Besides strength enhancement, properties can include self-cleaning, super hardness, electrical conductivity, antimicrobial superior thermal resistance and stability, non-flammability, lightweight, anti-corrosion, superior barrier, light emitting and low permeability, among others. Applications in the building industry include use as fire retardants, high performance insulation, protective coatings, equipment lubricants, structural integrity enhancement and monitoring, photovoltaics, stronger tensile cables, and self-cleaning or heat absorbing windows.


Nanomaterials Image

Nanomaterials are being investigated to discover how nanomaterials could be used without representing a danger to the environment and human health. A lack of specialists in nano(eco)toxicology hampers efforts to understand them, and there are gaps in the knowledge of this subject (as of 2012). ©2012 Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marburg / Macromolecular Che

Using nanomaterials in architecture shows promise in improving building structure and efficiency, and could even change buildings’ design and performance. Despite the potential benefits, nanotechnology raises questions - including concerns about the environmental impact and toxicity of nanomaterials. Considerations of the lifecycle of nanomaterials are important in determining the impacts on the health of building inhabitants and construction workers, as well as the environmental effects at all stages of manufacturing, construction, operation, demolition, and disposal.

Some companies are working towards the production of environmentally responsible nanotechnology, including Solaripedia’s sponsoring company, NanoSonic, Inc. For example, one of its products in particular exemplifies an environmentally friendly nanotechnology product that has been found to be benign at every stage of development. NanoSonic’s HybridShield™ coating has undergone third-party validation that indicates its functionality as a flame retardant while also generating reduced, less toxic smoke.

To offer an introduction to the possibilities for using nanomaterials in sustainable design and construction, we’ve gathered a few publications and resources below. Happy reading!

(NOTE: Nanomaterials are tiny, microscopic materials with at least one dimension that is less than 100 nanometers (nm). A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter – and one human hair is about 100,000 nanometers wide.)

A few relevant organizations:
Center for Functional Nanomaterials (at Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA)
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (Non-profit)
Foresight Institute (Non-profit)
Institute of Nanotechnology (UK)
National Nanotechnology Initiative(USA)
Centre for Material and Fibre Innovation (Australia)
Nanomaterial Biological Interactions Knowledgebase (USA)



  Nanomaterials in the Construction Industry JULY 2010 (2,059 kb)

  Smart Nanomaterials in Construction Industry Article (269 kb)

  Nanomaterials Poised for Big Impact in Construction Article 2010 (213 kb)

  How is green nanotechnology being used? Article 2011 (272 kb)

  Sustainable Nanotechnology Article 2010 (361 kb)

  Nanotechnology and Life Cycle Assessment 2007 (1,264 kb)

  Nanotechnology Could Spare Damaged Buildings APRIL 2010 (69 kb)

  Nanotechnology in Construction Article NBS 2007 (123 kb)

  Nanotechnology and Solar Power Presentation 2005 (1,123 kb)

  Can Nanotechnology Be Green Lecture 2006 (983 kb)

  Green Nanotechnology in Nordic Construction 2010 (2,054 kb)

  Green Nanotechnology 2007 (1,742 kb)


Green Nanotechnology Video Link