Are ABMs Here to Upgrade Concrete? 

Are ABMs Here to Upgrade Concrete? 

Advanced Building Materials, commonly abbreviated as ABMs, are becoming quite popular. This is a great stride in the construction industry, especially when you consider building materials’ impact on the greenhouse effect. ABMs make it possible to meet current construction needs while not putting future generations at risk.

There is a wide abundance of advanced building materials designed to promote sustainability and resilience. Today, we will lean more towards concrete and cement since these happen to be the most frequently used construction materials.

1. Self-Healing Concrete

The biggest problem with using concrete is that it usually deteriorates sooner than it’s expected to last. As you may already know, concrete is built to withstand compression. However, tension within the structure causes the concrete to crack. To avoid this, construction companies usually reinforce it using steel.

Even though the above acts as a quick fix, as long as there are cracks in the structure, water can easily get absorbed and deteriorate the concrete. The result of the above reaction is a significant reduction in the lifespan of the building. This is why you should always seal cracks as soon as you notice them.

This concrete deterioration issue can easily be avoided by using self-healing concrete. This type of ABM is made using calcite-precipitating bacteria. What the bacteria does is that it biologically creates limestone when exposed to water. The limestone then automatically seals the cracks without any repair done. This bacteria in self-healing concrete can survive for more than two centuries. By then, that building will have served its purpose. Another benefit of self-healing concrete is that it reduces time and money spent on frequent repairs on cracks and buildings improvement.

  1. Solar Energy-Generating Concrete

It may sound impossible, but wait till you hear what a team of researchers in Zurich did. Arno Schluter and Phillipe Block, these two professors, built a solar energy generating concrete roof structure.

This prototype featured layers of structure that were designed to produce solar energy. These professors used temperature-regulating coils in the inner layer and covered it with insulation. They added a thin film comprising photovoltaic cells on the second concrete layer.

The above project was quite innovative, and the goal of these scientists was to show that even materials that aren’t regarded as ‘green’ can still produce energy. The solar energy generating concrete technology is expected to be part of HiLo, an innovation and research building that will be erected in Switzerland.


  1. Illuminating Cement

Who thought cement could be a source of light? Well, Dr. Jose Carlos Rubio Avalos and his group of experts did. Working at the UMSNH of Morelia in Mexico, these scientists successfully altered the properties of Portland Cement. They boosted cement’s ability to absorb and radiate light. This was made possible by the incorporation of special additives through condensation.

This is a brilliant idea because if cement can absorb sunlight and radiate it. That would significantly lower the use of electricity and power in outdoor environments. That’s not all. Thanks to Dr. Jose’s invention, this illuminating cement absorbs light throughout the day and radiates it all night long. It can do this for a century.


The Bottom Line

The future of advanced building materials is quite promising. It’s here to change how we build and design our homes. Other than providing sustainable living, these materials are here to make life much easier. Here at San Rafael Concrete, we are optimistic about ABMs. If you are interested in using advanced building materials in your next project, get in touch with us to discuss what options you may have.