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Is nanotechnology changing the face of the construction industry?

The Future of Nanotech and Construction

Because many nanotech particles naturally align themselves in a way that appears as though they're self-assembling, and because these particles consist of the same basic ingredients as the materials they're beefing up, these seemingly futuristic additives can remove a lot of the labor and environmental costs from the creation of industrial products. A great deal of the environmental impact of concrete production, for example, involves pounding large rocks into precisely-measured smaller sizes for different jobs. But when you're starting with tiny particles that increase strength without adding density, you remove a lot of that energy and time spent -- which means concrete factories can do a smarter, cleaner job.

And since a lot of these materials are more durable once they're out in the world -- some even help reverse pollution damage -- they contribute to sustainability even after they're sold and used in construction projects. Because the quantum effects of many of these materials have been studied and well-document, and because they've been safely used and improved since the 1990s, scientists are able to more perfectly calibrate the best uses and mixtures of materials manipulated with nanotechnology for a much more environmentally intelligent building process.

But the construction industry is, after all, one of the oldest professions, and works with the most timeless materials available -- stone and wood -- with regular success. Very little of the construction industry, globally, is concerned with research and development into nanotechnology. After all, construction is needed everywhere, and they've been doing a fine job since the beginning of human civilization with what they have.

As with any green or industry-changing development, the use of nanotech is a slow but steady race. But change does tend to speed up over time, and with the push toward cheaper and greener global building strategies, odds are good that we'll eventually see the integration of nanotechnology in consturction expand significantly within the next decade.

In the meantime, don't be surprised if, on your next visit to the home improvement center, you see some of these applications used in products you thought you're already familiar with. The future doesn't come in a brightly labeled box marked THE FUTURE. It shows up after being test-marketed, designed, renamed and made to look like the world we already know -- but that doesn't make it any less exciting.