Our Innovation Analysts recently looked into emerging technologies and up-and-coming startups working on solutions for the construction industry. As there is a large number of startups working on a wide variety of solutions, we decided to share our insights with you. This time, we are taking a look at 5 promising Smart Material Solutions.
Heat Map: 5 Top Smart Material Startups
For our 5 top picks, we used a data-driven startup scouting approach to identify the most relevant solutions globally. The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights 5 interesting examples out of 21 relevant solutions. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.
Basilisk Concrete – Self Healing Concrete
Concrete is the second most used resource after water in the world today. To add, it is also highly polluting, releasing harmful gases during its production. Research is being done to improve or negate many issues in the use of traditional concrete for construction. Many innovations have come to light from self-cleaning concrete to certain mixes of concrete which are significantly more durable and less polluting. The Netherlands-based startup Basilisk Concrete offers a self-healing concrete mix. Their technology is based on bacteria or other microorganisms which, when mixed during concrete production, produce limestone. As a result, concrete structures become more durable while being able to autonomously repair crack formations. The autonomous repair system is developed for both new constructions as well as for existing structures. Currently, cracks of up to 0.8mm (0.03in) can be repaired.
Green Earth Aerogel Technologies – Aerogel
Insulation for buildings usually refers to thermal insulation. However, insulation during construction can also be done to protect against heavy impact, fires or for acoustics. Even though aerogels have been in use for a while, recent innovations in nanotechnology have made them thinner, lighter and stronger. Using nanotechnology, Spanish startup Green Earth Aerogel Technologies develops carbon aerogels from rice wastes and silica aerogels from rice husk ash. These aerogels can be used for insulating pipes, tubes, and wires. Aerogel fine powders are used as paint additives and putty components to make fireproof and insulated protective coatings. Granulated aerogels can also be used as a filler for translucent walls, windows, and roofs.
PaverGuide – Permeable Pavement
With a visible strain on water resources around different parts of the world, many innovative solutions to harvest water are under development, such as making water harvesting systems mandatory for households, cleaning and maintaining water bodies, and constructing buildings which have the capacity to recharge the groundwater tables. Permeable pavements convert concrete areas of cities into sponges that collect large quantities of water from rains and floods. US-based startup PaverGuide develops a 100% recycled plastic, structural stormwater chamber, designed specifically for permeable pavements. They offer an 89mm (3.5in) deep hold, which can absorb the same amount of water discharge as a 254mm (10in) deep stone sub-base.
Graphitene – Nanomaterials
When we think about nanomaterials, we immediately think of graphene. Using graphene in construction – by mixing it with concrete, or by coating steel structures with graphene – can transform many areas of building and construction. Graphene extends asset life and significantly increases the stability of structures. With its capacity for high conductivity, Graphene is described as the material of the future. British startup Graphitene produces graphene for buildings and construction. They have a unique and clean production process for graphene that does not require high temperatures. Their process exfoliates graphene from naturally occurring graphite flakes using only mild chemicals and conditions that yield pure graphene.
EPoS – Shape Memory Alloys
Shape memory alloys (SMAs) are unique materials that have the ability to achieve extreme deformations and then to return to its predefined shape, after unloading or upon heating. This ‘shape memory’ effect is the result of the reversible phase transformation that SMAs undergo: martensitic transformation. Used first to make highways and bridges more resistant, its applications now cover seismic resistance for earthquake-prone zones and heritage structures and superelasticity for tall sky-scrapers to prevent them from swaying out of shape. The Italian company EPoS produce shape memory alloys for various industries, including for construction. They have a unique method for sintering, that can be processed to theoretical density in the air without oxidation, thereby, allowing lean production of simple components with reduced machining. The shape memory grades can be produced either with or without heat treatment after sintering.
What About The Other 16 Solutions?
While we believe data is key to creating insights it can be easy to be overwhelmed by it. Our ambition is to create a comprehensive overview and provide actionable innovation intelligence for your Proof of Concept (PoC), partnership, or investment targets. The 5 startups showcased above are promising examples out of 21 we analyzed for this article. To identify the most relevant solutions based on your specific criteria and collaboration strategy, get in touch.