Monday, December 17, 2012

Nanotechnology in the cement industry - a patent analysis

Cement is one of the most widely used materials in construction industry. In 2011, the expected total worldwide production of cement was 3,400 million tonnes. China is the largest producer accounting for 2 billion tonnes in production with India in second position (210 million tonnes) followed by the USA (68 million tonnes)1. Despite being widely used, cement-based materials have poor mechanical properties and are highly permeable to water and other aggressive chemicals, which reduces their durability. Moreover, the cement industry is one of the significant sources of CO2 emissions, which accounts for 5-6% of global man-made CO2 emission annually. However, the increasing demand for high performance structural materials and components has led to the rapid development of new classes of materials.Nanotechnology can play a significant role in the construction industry and stands at eighth position in terms of most significant areas of applications in nanotechnology2. Nanoengineering of cement-based materials can result in outstanding or smart properties. Introduction of nanotechnology in cement industry has the potential to address some of the challenges such as CO2 emissions, poor crack resistance, long curing time, low tensile strength, high water absorption, low ductility and many other mechanical performances. A remarkable improvement in the mechanical properties and durability of cementitious materials can be observed with incorporation of nanomaterials such as nano-SiO2, ZnO2, Al2O3, TiO2, carbon nanotubes, nano-clays, carbon nanofibers and other nanomaterials.

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