A new development in the concrete industry will revolutionize the way Houston design-build firms operate in upcoming years. Light-emitting and translucent concrete formulations offer new architectural possibilities while providing the same strong support of traditional concrete mixtures. The luminescent properties of these new materials will create new opportunities for building homes, office spaces and elements of infrastructure in Houston and across the country.
How It Works
Light-emitting concrete formulations rely on a combination of proven methods to produce a new building material that is ideal for use in a wide range of construction applications:
- Traditional concrete mixtures use specialized cement to hold particulates in place, creating a strong and durable building material. Nearly all cement formulations, however, contain crystal flakes that dry to an opaque finish. These flakes effectively block light from passing through concrete. By altering the chemical composition of these mixtures to create translucent binding agents without these flakes, concrete can retain its solid characteristics while allowing light to pass through more easily.
- By incorporating phosphorescent materials into the translucent concrete mixture, scientists can create a material that absorbs the sun’s rays during daylight hours and releases light at night, creating greater visibility and allowing for increased comfort and reduced energy use in residential and commercial spaces. Solar energy excites electrons in these chemical compounds, allowing them to store light. As the sun sets, the state of the electrons returns to normal, releasing light that can last for as long as 12 hours to provide added illumination for interior spaces and outdoor areas.
- Because these new concrete formulations require no electricity, they can reduce lighting costs for commercial spaces and residences alike. This green-friendly approach can also enhance the beauty of these buildings. In some cases, the translucent properties of these new concrete mixtures can also allow ambient light from outdoors to filter through into interior areas for increased visual appeal inside and out.
These advanced concrete materials are already available for use in art installations and have been used to construct walls and to enhance buildings in Europe. As more companies become aware of this new technology, it is expected to achieve greater popularity in the U.S. marketplace as well.
Putting Light-Emitting Concrete to Work
The possible applications for light-emitting and translucent concrete are virtually endless. Houston commercial construction companies are already looking at this new material as an option for an array of building applications:
- Highways built with light-emitting concrete could provide greater visibility for motorist, lowering the risk of accidents and increasing overall safety for motorists on Texas roadways.
- Houston office building construction could be enhanced with the addition of translucent or light-emitting walls. These structures could provide added indoor light during evening hours while ensuring the lowest possible utility bills for tenants and property owners.
- Specialized light-emitting concrete walls could potentially serve as always-on advertising for companies and retailers without the ongoing cost of electricity.
- The light generated by these new concrete products could potentially provide assistance during a widespread power outage or other natural disaster, allowing employees, customers and other individuals to stay safer and to enjoy some degree of visibility even in these emergency events.
- Sidewalks and parking lots could also be made safer and more attractive by the implementation of these advanced concrete formulations.
As these technologies become more commonplace in the U.S., Houston design-build construction firms are likely to offer light-emitting and translucent concrete options for customers looking to stand out in the competitive marketplace.
The future looks bright for implementations of these advanced concrete formulations. By considering these green-friendly materials when designing and building new commercial complexes, Houston construction companies can maintain their position on the cutting-edge of building techniques and methods to ensure greater success within the industry.