The word “nano” originates from Greek and means “dwarf” and nano meter is one billionth (10- 9) of a meter – about one hundred thousandth of the width of a human hair.
Nanotechnology or “engineering at a very small scale” is the technology of creating and applying materials and structures with at least one critical dimension below 100nm which lead to new functionalities and properties.
The development of a variety of new materials developed from nanotechnology is reshaping the building and construction industry. For example, materials such as nano silica can increase the durability of cement and enhance its mechanical properties. Adding photocatalytic TiO2 to conventional cement can help reduce CO and NOx emissions on highways.
Nanotechnology also enables the creation of more environmentally friendly high-strength cement substitutes and to incorporate novel wireless sensing elements to monitor the structural integrity of concrete structures.
Personal safety and fire protection industry is changing drastically through the use of fire retardant clothing, flame resistant material made with polymer nano composites filled with clay and carbon nano tubes and fire retardants made using nano additives to replace halogen retardants banned in different markets.
Nano additives are also used to reduce the heat release rate during a fire event by forming surface char to insulate the underlying material.
Coatings are expected to constitute the largest application for nano materials in construction such as in architectural paints, water sealer sand deck treatments, and treatments applied during fabrication, such as scratch- resistant coatings on vinyl or wood flooring are meant for protection.
Fire resistance of steel structures is often provided by a coating produced by a spray-on cementitious process.
Current portland cement based coatings are not popular because they need to be thick, tend to be brittle and polymer additions are needed to improve adhesion.
However, research into nano-cement (made of nano-sized particles) has the potential to create a new paradigm in this area of application because the resulting material can be used as a tough, durable, high temperature coating.
This is achieved by the mixing of carbon nanotubes (CNT’s) with the cementious material to fabricate fibre composites that can inherit some of the outstanding properties of the nanotubes such as strength.
Polypropylene fibres also are being considered as a method of increasing fire resistance and this is a cheaper option than conventional insulation.
Source : nanoforum.org and Reinste Nano Ventures
(this article written for 1BINA.my)