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Nanomaterial such as nano-silica (SiO2), nano-titania (TiO2), carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene can be used in the formation of concrete. Nano-SiO2 acts as a strong binding agent, enhancing durability parameters of a concrete structure by increasing cohesion between cement and aggregates. Notable advantages of nano-SiO2 include improvements of mechanical and degradation properties because it acts to control calcium silicate hydrate (Ca-Si-H) leaching from a concrete structure while blocking water penetration. This leads to better durability and strength. When incorporated into concrete, nano-TiO2 provides self-cleaning properties, breaking down pollution and volatile organic compounds, through photocatalysis due to its high surface area. Nano-TiO2 and nano-SiO2 are also used to improve the properties of the recycled concrete and thus, contribute to solving the issue of increasing volume of construction and demolition waste1. The structural properties of CNT provide strength and prevent cracking. It is known to make concrete impenetrable to salts and waters, allowing for enhancement in durability. Application of graphene in concrete also has the potential to increase the material strength and improve appearance and environmental performance.2
Due to its applications on surface roads, driveways and airport runways, asphalt concentrate requires endurance for high volume traffic and fluctuating temperatures, which may result in melting and cracking. Incorporating nano-aluminium (AL2O3) into asphalt cement has shown to enhance stiffness and recovery abilities, leading to better resistance to higher temperatures.
As TiO2 has hydrophilic properties when applied as a thin film on glass, it allows for self-cleaning and anti-fouling. Through photocatalysis and interaction with sunlight, it breaks down grime, which can later be washed away by rainwater. Present in the interlayer between two panels of glass, nano-SiO2 provides fire resistance by absorbing the energy of a fire.
Nano-TiO2 and nano-SiO2 within coatings provides characteristics of anti-fouling by breaking down organic dirt via a catalytic reaction. Moreover, due to its hydrophilic properties, it allows water to move over its surface, which washes away organic dirt. CNTs and graphene are also known to provide strength, corrosion resistance and protection from air, weather elements. It also helps to protect the material on the exterior of a buildings due to this antioxidant properties.3
Steel is one of the most widely used building materials in construction because of its durable nature and strength. However, over time, fatigue and exhaustion may occur leading to structural failure. Introducing copper nanoparticles within steel has shown to reduce fatigue irregularity and increase steel life. Coating steel with TiO2 may also provide self-healing capability and promote anti-fouling and corrosion resistance.4
1 Manžuch, Z., Akelytė, R., Camboni, M., Carlander, D., García, R. P., & Kriščiūnaitė, G. (2021). Study on the product lifecycles, waste recycling and the circular economy for nanomaterials. Commissioned by ECHA, European Observatory of Nanomaterials. Available at: https://euon.echa.europa.eu/documents/2435000/3268576/nano_lifecycles_euon_en.pdf/107f2bd6-8967-5466-8f48-5610d9120bbe?t=1636976615023
2 Mohajerani, A., Burnett, L., Smith, J. V., Kurmus, H., Milas, J., Arulrajah, A., Horpibulsuk, S., & Kadir, A. A. (2019). Nanoparticles in construction materials and other applications, and implications of nanoparticle use. Materials, 12(19), 3052.
3 Rawat, P., Kumar, A., & Verma, A. K. (2015). A Review on nanotechnology in civil engineering. Discovery, 39(179), 152-158.
4 IOSH. (2017). Nanotechnology in Construction and Demolition. Available at: https://iosh.com/media/1520/nanotechnology-in-construction-and-demolition-guidance.pdf