Focus Area / Working Group: Materials
Modern functional materials for the future of construction
For any kind of construction building materials are needed. The total amount of materials required for construction purposes in Europe exceeds 2 billion tonnes per year, making it the largest raw material consuming industry. The materials form an essential part of the buildings we live and work in; the roads, in bridges and tunnels we use to move around and in the networks of drinking and waste water etc. Materials, and their combinations, create the aesthetic expression and provide structural strength and durability to all buildings and structures.
Construction materials have an important role to play in sustainable development through their energy performance and durability, as this determines the energy demand of buildings through the lifetime. By developing the use of materials and their combinations, significant improvements of the environment and quality of life can be achieved. Together with the energy and the raw materials used during their manufacturing it becomes obvious that the production of building materials has a significant environmental impact due to the sheer quantities involved.
Beside these sustainability aspects building materials have a major economic impact on society. Developed regions including the EU, must enhance their infrastructure and also renew and repair under-performing structures. Wear and durability issues necessitating repair of roads, buildings, water network etc. cause major disruption with large associated costs. Over the long-term, knowledge generation and better use of building materials can impact beneficially all these areas of our daily life.
Recent advances in nanotechnology, modelling, analytical techniques and other technologies have the potential of creating breakthroughs in the production, properties and use of building materials.
Any strategy to achieve economic, ecologic and social objectives within Europe must include measures to improve functionality, durability and efficiency of materials used for construction. New technologies and analytical techniques offer a wide spectrum of opportunities for further improvements. One main obstacle hindering an efficient development of knowledge is the fragmentation of research activities, both on industrial and academic level. Improved coordination of RTD activities and networking between all interested groups therefore offers huge potential to gain speed in the development of fundamental understanding, thus enabling breakthrough innovations.
Finally, these developments are needed to maintain and strengthen the competitiveness of European building materials producers and the entire construction sector.
For further infomation please contact the chairman of working group Materials, Prof. Dr. Birgit Meng.