Hot supermaterial 'graphene' makes concrete four times as strong

Our built environment faces growing pressure from ongoing challenges surrounding climate change, urbanisation and resistance to environmental stresses. Nanotechnological research is developing stronger and more sustainable building materials which have a less negative impact on our planet.

In 2004, researchers from the University of Manchester gained two Nobel Prizes from developing ‘graphene’ - a supermaterial. The material is comprised of a single layer of carbon atoms in a hexagonal lattice, which results in super strength and excellent conductive qualities. The material is also extremely flexible and light yet, as the researchers say, “one hundred times stronger than steel”.

Recently the University of Exeter incorporated graphene into concrete, which they discovered, creates a stronger, more water-resistant material. The material is also four times as strong as concrete and halves the amount of concrete needed to construct a product. This “low-cost” method has great implications for the construction of strong, durable buildings as the process uses less material and produces less greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, the material’s water resistance makes it suitable for construction in areas that are hard to reach, while the strength of the composite makes buildings more resilient to future environmental pressures. What is more, this technique could be copied by incorporating other nanomaterials into concrete which will pave the way to further innovations in the industry.

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Sophia 14/05/2018 14:48

Great article! Very cool project.


philip 20/06/2018 10:31

This great innovation. My query is, at the end of life of the structure, how can this concrete be recycled or broken down if it is so strong? Simply, if it isn't, then we will end up with this concrete in the wastelands. I am asking this similarly to those who are creating lighter materials for, say lamp columns from steel to plactics, that when the life cycle is up, how can they be reused? there is a lot of innovation, but designers forget they also need to consider end of life in their designs in using these materials.