Advanced Composites and Nanomaterials for Construction Buildings

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Advanced composites are materials made by combining two or more distinct materials, such as fibers and resins, to create a new material with enhanced properties. In construction, advanced composites typically involve high-strength fibers like carbon fiber, glass fiber, or natural fibers embedded in a matrix material, such as polymers or cement. Nanomaterials are materials with at least one dimension in the nanometer scale (1-100 nanometers), offering unique properties due to their small size and high surface area.

Impact on climate action

Advanced Composites and Nanomaterials in low-carbon construction materials significantly reduce carbon emissions by offering lighter, stronger alternatives to traditional materials like concrete and steel. Their use minimizes energy consumption in production and transportation, fostering sustainable building practices, thus contributing to a substantial reduction in the construction industry’s carbon footprint.


  • Material Science and Engineering: Advanced composites and nanomaterials rely on advanced material science and engineering principles to design and optimize materials with specific properties.
  • Nanotechnology: Nanomaterials leverage nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular level, to create materials with enhanced strength, durability, and other desired characteristics.
  • Manufacturing Processes: Specialized manufacturing processes, such as pultrusion, filament winding, and 3D printing, are used to create advanced composite components with precise geometries and tailored properties.

TRL : Varied, ranging from 4-5 (lab-scale development and testing) to 7-8 (commercially available and used in demonstration projects).

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers (CFRP): CFRP composites offer exceptional strength-to-weight ratios, making them ideal for lightweight structures and reinforcing existing concrete elements.
  • Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymers (GFRP): GFRP composites are cost-effective and versatile, used in a wide range of construction applications, including cladding, roofing, and structural elements.
  • Natural Fiber Composites: Utilizing natural fibers, such as flax, hemp, or bamboo, in composite materials offers sustainability benefits, as these fibers are renewable and biodegradable.
  • Nanomodified Concrete: Adding nanoparticles, such as silica nanoparticles or carbon nanotubes, to concrete can enhance its strength, durability, and resistance to cracking.
  • Self-Healing Composites: Incorporating self-healing agents or mechanisms into composite materials can enable them to repair cracks autonomously, extending their lifespan and reducing maintenance costs.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Enhanced Composite Matrix Design
  • Nanoparticle Reinforcement Techniques
  • Sustainable Fiber Composite Development
  • Advanced Concrete Nano-Modification
  • Self-Repairing Composite Materials
  • Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer Innovations
  • Glass Fiber Composite Applications
  • Natural Fiber Composite Advancements
  • Nanotechnology in Construction
  • Precise Composite Manufacturing Processes
  • Lightweight Structural Composites
  • High-Strength Composite Fabrication
  • Bio-Based Composite Materials
  • Nanoscale Material Manipulation
  • Innovative Composite Reinforcement Methods
  • Advanced Composite Structural Components
  • Durability Enhancement through Nanomaterials
  • Next-Generation Composite Formulations
  • Self-Sustaining Composite Systems
  • Sustainable Nanocomposite Solutions

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • CarbonCure Technologies (Canada):
    • Technology Focus: CarbonCure specializes in carbon utilization technology for the concrete industry. They integrate carbon dioxide (CO2) into concrete during production, reducing its carbon footprint and enhancing its performance.
    • Uniqueness: CarbonCure’s technology is unique in its ability to address both environmental and performance concerns in the concrete industry. By sequestering CO2 into concrete, they offer a sustainable solution that also improves concrete strength and durability.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments include concrete producers, construction companies, and infrastructure developers looking to reduce carbon emissions and meet sustainability goals.
  • Kite Bricks (USA):
    • Technology Focus: Kite Bricks is known for its innovative approach to modular construction using advanced composite materials. They offer interlocking bricks made from durable, lightweight materials for rapid and sustainable construction.
    • Uniqueness: Kite Bricks stands out for its disruptive approach to traditional construction methods, offering a faster, more cost-effective, and environmentally friendly alternative. Their modular system enables quick assembly and disassembly, making it ideal for temporary or permanent structures.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments may include construction companies, developers, architects, and governments seeking efficient and sustainable building solutions for residential, commercial, and infrastructure projects.
  • Solidia Technologies (USA):
    • Technology Focus: Solidia Technologies focuses on advanced materials and processes for sustainable cement and concrete production. They leverage carbon capture technology and novel curing methods to reduce CO2 emissions and enhance concrete performance.
    • Uniqueness: Solidia’s technology offers a comprehensive solution to the environmental challenges of traditional cement and concrete production. By using CO2 in curing and reducing the overall carbon footprint, they provide a more sustainable alternative without compromising performance.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments encompass cement manufacturers, concrete producers, construction companies, and infrastructure developers aiming to adopt greener practices and reduce environmental impact.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Technology Enhancements: MIT researchers are pioneering the development of advanced composites and nanomaterials for low-carbon construction. They are employing techniques such as nanotechnology and carbon fiber reinforcement to enhance the mechanical properties and durability of construction materials while reducing their carbon footprint.
    • Uniqueness of Research: MIT’s approach involves the integration of nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes and graphene, into composite matrices to create lightweight yet strong construction materials. These materials offer superior strength-to-weight ratios and can be tailored for specific applications, such as load-bearing structures and energy-efficient building envelopes.
    • End-use Applications: The research at MIT has broad applications in the construction industry, including the development of high-performance concrete, lightweight panels, and insulation materials. These low-carbon construction materials can help reduce energy consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the resilience of buildings to extreme weather events.
  • Imperial College London:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Imperial College London are focusing on developing novel composite materials with enhanced thermal and mechanical properties for low-carbon construction. They are exploring the use of nanomaterials, such as nano-clays and carbon nanofibers, to improve the performance and sustainability of construction materials.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Imperial College’s research emphasizes the design and synthesis of multifunctional composites that offer not only structural strength but also thermal insulation, fire resistance, and self-healing properties. These materials are engineered at the nanoscale to achieve superior performance and durability compared to traditional construction materials.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Imperial College has applications in various construction sectors, including infrastructure, housing, and transportation. Advanced composites and nanomaterials developed by Imperial College researchers can be used to create energy-efficient buildings, durable bridges, and lightweight vehicle components, contributing to sustainable urban development.
  • National University of Singapore (NUS):
    • Technology Enhancements: NUS researchers are at the forefront of developing advanced composite materials using nanotechnology for low-carbon construction. They are investigating the use of nano-reinforcements, such as carbon nanotubes and nano-silica, to improve the strength, durability, and sustainability of construction materials.
    • Uniqueness of Research: NUS’s research integrates materials science, engineering, and sustainability principles to design next-generation construction materials that meet the growing demand for eco-friendly infrastructure. Their approach involves the development of self-cleaning surfaces, energy-efficient coatings, and lightweight structural components using advanced composites and nanomaterials.
    • End-use Applications: The research at NUS spans a wide range of construction applications, including high-rise buildings, transportation infrastructure, and green building solutions. Advanced composites and nanomaterials developed by NUS researchers can help reduce the environmental impact of construction activities, improve energy efficiency, and enhance the resilience of built environments against climate change impacts.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Advanced composites and nanomaterials are already being used in various construction applications. CFRP is used in bridge decks and structural reinforcement, GFRP is employed in cladding, roofing, and window frames, and nano-modified concrete is finding applications in high-performance structures.