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Title: Preface
Author(s): Peter J.M. Bartos, Yolanda de Miguel, Antonio Porro
Paper category : conference
Book title: NICOM 2: 2nd International Symposium on Nanotechnology in Construction
Editor(s): Y. de Miguel, A. Porro and P.J.M. Bartos
Print-ISBN: 2-912143-87-X
e-ISBN: 2912143888
Publisher: RILEM Publications SARL
Publication year: 2006
Pages: XV - XVII
Total Pages: 1
Language: English

Abstract: Construction industry differs from many other sectors of industry in that it has only recently started to appreciate the potential impact of commercial exploitation of Nanotechnology. There are still only a few instances where the Nanotechnology was exploited in development of a major construction-related product, which has reached open markets, compared with other manufacturing industries. Awareness of the potential for exploitation of Nano-technology in construction is improving but it is still relatively low, nano-related RTD in construction is only emerging and does so in a particularly uneven and fragmented way.
Several reasons can be found for the situation mentioned above. One reason reflects the different nature of the construction industry, which leads to many inventions being adapted from other industries or from related sciences, rather than being initially invented within the construction industry itself. Construction always operates much more as an exploiter of ideas and inventions rather than their creator. This is partly due to specific characteristics of its final products, which tend to be very complex, tailor-made, non-mass produced. Relatively very long service lives are also required.
Traditionally, levels of investment into construction RTD have been always very low; and in many countries these have been the lowest across the whole of the manufacturing industrial sector. Margins of profitability have been historically very small. In addition, the initial investment into setting up and maintenance of nano-related RTD infrastructure is invariably very high, its rate of obsolescence is equally high and potentially very substantial commercial returns are not available in less than in a middle to long term time-scale. Advances in productivity and introductions of innovative materials and processes into construction practice in the past have been therefore slow, a situation, which cannot be tolerated any more in the current, much more competitive, globalised business environment.
A common strategy for improved productivity is development of a competitive knowledge-based economy which is re-directing ‘traditional’ industries towards high added-value activities. Construction is exactly such an industry and exploitation of nanotechnology offers potentially massive advances towards the high value production, it is essential that construction, with its very strong impact on society and its economy (about 11% of the European GDP and 7% of employees), is not left behind in the nano-based industrial revolution. Nanotechnology is a major enabling tool, which enhances understanding, leads to development of characterisation and then control / design at sub-micron level. Its potential for development is such that it is often recognised as the industrial revolution of the 21st century.
Applications of Nanotechnology are expected to lead to better, cleaner, cheaper, faster and smarter products and much more sustainable production processes.
European Commission recognised the importance of supporting transfer of knowledge in nanotechnology into construction RTD, supporting internationally leading projects such as Nanoconex (2002-4), which prompted setting up of the RILEM TC 197-NCM on Nanotechnology in Construction Materials and started the series of symposia on Nanotechnology in Construction. The first symposium (NICOM 1) was held in Paisley in 2003, organised by the Scottish Centre for Nanotechnology in Construction Materials, a leading academic research centre led by Professor P. J.M. Bartos.
The advance in knowledge and the use of nanotechnology as a competitive tool for the construction industry is being promoted by LABEIN-Tecnalia, a prominent Spanish Research Institute with a leading research unit on Nanomaterials Applications in Construction (NANOC), which is under the direction of Dr Antonio Porro, who has also a coordinating role, related to Nanotechnology, within the Spanish Tecnalia industry-led Technological Corporation.
LABEIN-Tecnalia took on the responsibility for organising the 2nd International Symposium on Nanotechnology in Construction, held in Bilbao on 13th – 16th November 2005 (NICOM 2). The organising committee was chaired by Dr Yolanda de Miguel, along with a team of colleagues from LABEIN-Tecnalia who worked hard to ensure complete success of the event. Members of the RILEM TC197-NCM assisted by chairing of the symposium sessions. The event was sponsored by both, Cementos Lemona and Cementos Rezola. It also had the support of the Basque Government Strategic Research Programme Etortek.
The Symposium attracted delegates from 23 countries from across the world, for whom it provided a unique international forum covering the whole breadth of construction, from underlying basic science of construction materials to design and architecture. It has been a truly multi-disciplinary meeting, with delegates representing both researchers and end-users, both those already exploiting nanotechnology right up to the commercial product stage and those who came to assess the potential offered by nanotechnology in their particular sector of construction. There was clearly a synergy, people learning from each other, across the usual professional or sectorial boundaries. Nanotechnology, as an advanced new tool, was clearly the strong integrating factor.
Advances in exploitation of nanotechnology in construction rely significantly on initial support from research funding agencies. Current state of nano-related construction RTD was reviewed by Dr A. Porro and it was then very appropriate and important for the delegates to hear about the latest activities from the two world’s most important sources of RTD support, namely the European Commission, represented by Dr C. Lesniak and the US National Science Foundation represented by Drs J. Larsen-Basse and K. Chong. Several key issues were identified during the event. These include Characterisation of materials at nano-scale should expand beyond ‘mechanical’ properties to include additional effects such as that of moisture, temperature, as well as electrical properties. The role of nanotechnology in development of sustainable construction technology was highlighted, particularly when durability of materials and the life-cycle of construction products were considered, this going well beyond cement, where the application of nanotechnology is being used most, mainly as a tool for a better understanding of its hydration. Nanotechnology has opened up a substantial additional domain for theoretical modelling, which now has to embrace the whole scale, from nano- to macro- size, and deal with significant challenges to the very basis of the modelling approaches used.
A Roadmap for Development presented by Prof P. J.M. Bartos was a study forecasting the exploitation of nanotechnology in different construction sectors for the next 20 years, including a discussion of the drivers for advance, the infrastructure required and obstacles still to be overcome. It highlighted the need for collaboration and an integration of the high cost nano-scale research facilities at international level, to reduce the fragmentation and widen access. It also underlined the need for a much greater knowledge transfer and education/training at all, from a technician to an advanced scientist regarding nanotechnology.
Contributions mentioned above and all other papers presented and discussed at the Symposium have been edited by Prof. P. J.M. Bartos, Dr Y. R. de Miguel and Dr A. Porro and published in this book by RILEM S.A.R.L. under the direction of Mr Michel Brusin.

Online publication: 2005-11-17
Publication type : full_text
Public price (Euros): 0.00

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