Does your building have carbon nanotubes inside?
It’s okay if you’re not sure. But increasingly, this advanced science is finding its way into new paints, coatings, glass materials, finishes and structures.
“Even though the construction sector has been rather slow to adopt them, nanotech innovations are steadily infiltrating the built environment on two fronts: by optimizing and enhancing the performance of many existing technologies and by offering a new class of material products that were not possible before nano-engineering,” explains Peter Yeadon, AIA, RIBA, a partner with Decker Yeadon, New York.
For example, TOTO’s patented, super-smooth SanaGloss glaze “minimizes debris, mold and bacteria from sticking to porous, ceramic surfaces.” Other self-cleaning and self-healing materials, including glass such as Pilkington’s Activ and coatings such as Sto Corp.’s Lotusan.
These products possess highly water-repellent microstructures, which help shed water and, with it, mold and dirt.
There are also nano-enhanced steels and rebar coatings such as those from the Australian company Nanotech, which offer corrosion-resistant properties whether exposed or in concrete.
Cool stuff! Yet the products face limited interest, says George Elvin, a researcher and director of Green Technology Forum, Indianapolis: “The cost of many nanotech products and processes are still high, and the building industry has always been slow to adopt new technologies.”
But sustainability is driving interest in nanotech, Elvin counters: “Nanotechnology for green building will reduce waste and toxicity, as well as energy and raw material consumption in the building industry, resulting in cleaner, healthier buildings.” Driven by performance and sustainability, the U.S. market for nano-enhanced building products is projected to grow to at least $400 million by 2016, according to Green Tech Forum. (327 words)