"...When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there..."
(David L. Weatherford - "Slow Dance")

News in civil engineering and not only (2009-2013)

December 17th, 2013
Cellulose Nanocrystals Are A Possible ‘Green’ Wonder Material
The same tiny cellulose crystals that give trees and plants their high strength, light weight and resilience, have now been shown to have the stiffness of steel. The nanocrystals might be used to create a new class of biomaterials with wide-ranging applications, such as strengthening construction materials and automotive components.

December 11th, 2013
Google Glass' role in the construction, building fields
Dominic Thasarathar of Autodesk, which integrates technology for the construction and natural resources arenas, says Google Glass shows promise for the industry. "The exciting thing about augmented reality is that it really does have the potential to improve productivity," he said, noting BIM overlays beamed dynamically from the cloud to Glass could enable a much more efficient construction process.

October 25th, 2013
Smart window insulates and generates power
Vanadium oxide incorporated in windows not only moderates infrared radiation from the sun to help insulate buildings but also can be used to drive diverted sunlight to solar cells for power. That's the discovery of a team of scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In the journal Nature Scientific Reports, the authors wrote, "This smart window combines energy-saving and generation in one device and offers potential to intelligently regulate and utilize solar radiation in an efficient manner."

September 25th, 2013
Civil engineer transforms cow manure into biodegradable plastic
A new process that brings together cow manure and bacteria found in the soil produces a biodegradable plastic that can be used in everyday, disposable items. The developer, University of Idaho associate professor of civil engineering Erik Coats, says items that could be made from it such as bottles and garbage bags could be recycled and then fed "to the bacteria again [to] make more plastic."

August 31st, 2013
Bacteria may soon be the stuff that buildings are made of
The future of architecture may be found in labs combining bacteria and computer science to produce materials suitable for construction. David Benjamin, a computational architect and professor at Columbia University, is creating materials using plant cells and computer models. The technology could be ready for commercial production in eight to 10 years, he said.
August 19th, 2013
Concrete "generic technology" draws inspiration from human body
A greener way to make concrete buildings originated by Kristian Hertz, a civil engineering professor at the Technical University of Denmark, combines "ordinary concrete and lightweight concrete, drawing inspiration from the human body." Hertz's approach could help reduce by up to half the amount of concrete used to build. Hertz has teamed up with Abeo A/S, which has numerous patents for key technologies, to further develop the technology, which Abeo claims will also cut energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.

August 11th, 2013
Korea develops wireless charging for electric buses on the move
Moving buses in Gumi, South Korea, can be charged as they travel. Electric cables buried in a 7.5-mile stretch of road in the city send electromagnetic fields to the bus, and then a coil in the bus battery changes that field into electricity that charges the battery. The concept was developed by Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

August 7th, 2013
Laser scan of New Zealand castle yields accurate 3D model

A 3D laser scanner was used at Cargills Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand, to assess the structure and render a 3D model of it. "It provides accurate floor plans, elevations and wall widths, which can be used for seismic design or just renovation purposes," said Lawrie Forbes, director of Solutions by Zeal. "The laser scanner takes away the biggest problem to engineers and architects, which is getting accurate measurements ... It can identify which parts of the structure are weak and which are fine, so you can address the weak points."

July 12th, 2013
NASA device could to keep structures steady during earthquakes
Fluid structure coupling, a NASA technology originally designed to steady rockets, could be used to mitigate the effects of earthquakes on buildings, according to this article. Researchers have developed a fluid stabilization device and tested it on the Dynamic Test Stand at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The device "controls the interaction between the fluid and the structure," says Rob Berry, manager of the project at Marshall. "Not only could this technology be applied to existing structures that have problems ... it could change the way buildings and other structures are designed."

July 5th, 2013
Photocatalytic pavement: Paving blocks designed to "eat" smog
Paving blocks sprayed with "smog-eating titanium oxide" were installed a year ago on a street in the Netherlands town of Hengelo. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands found that the "photocatalytic pavement" has cut nitrogen oxide pollution and “this latest research shows the potential of chemically engineered surfaces to further improve our quality of life, especially in major urban areas where traffic emissions are high," says David Brown, CEO of the Institution of Chemical Engineers

June 18th, 2013
Bones the model for new 3D material with extraordinary strength
Brittle and soft materials in bone combine for extraordinary strength, with soft collagen serving to distribute stress. The key to this strength is in how the different materials interlock, according to this article, and researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have now modeled that structure, providing a way to reproduce bone-like robustness in 3D-printed material.

June 9th, 2013
U.K. firm launches "carbon-negative building block"
Recycled aggregate and carbon aggregate made from industrial thermal residues combine to create the world's first "carbon-negative building block," according to this article. The block stores more carbon dioxide than it releases in the manufacturing stages, according to U.K.-based Lignacite, the product's co-developer.

May 28th, 2013
Scientists create process for converting cement into liquid metal
Scientists from the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute/SPring-8 have created a process that turns liquid cement into liquid metal. The researchers were able to successfully convert an alumina cement component called mayenite into a substance that "has lots of applications, including as thin-film resistors used in liquid-crystal displays," according to scientist Chris Benmore of the Argonne National Laboratory.

May 23rd, 2013
New concrete material developed from biobased materials
A new concrete material made from biobased construction materials such as high-lignin residue yielded a stronger product with fewer carbon emissions, according to Kyle Riding, an assistant professor of civil engineering at Kansas State University. Concrete use worldwide totals 7 billion cubic meters per year, and using biobased technology to create stronger concrete on a commercial level is possible because "the technology is known," Riding said.

May 20th, 2013
Company develops new fiber-reinforced wood, concrete ink for 3D printing
Emerging Objects, based in San Francisco, has developed a concrete ink for 3D printers, as well as a fiber-reinforced cement polymer that can create objects tougher than those made from standard concrete. The ink looks like concrete, is cheaper than plastic and can fit any nozzle that uses plastic ink. The firm foresees buildings being built using "cheaper, stronger, and more environmentally friendly than standard construction materials."

April 24th, 2013
Algae farm in a wall warms building, produces methane for energy
Heat for the building and methane for electricity generation are the intended products of a vertical algae farm on an exterior wall of a Hamburg apartment complex. The wall system developed by Colt Group injects nutrients and carbon dioxide into the algae-laden wall, along with compressed air to keep the algae from settling. Harvested algae is stored in tanks in the building before being processed for methane, and the algae wall doubles as a solar heat collector for the building.

April 23rd, 2013
Building material innovation: Concrete cloth simplifies difficult pours
Cement-infused fabric adds flexibility to concrete placement. ConcreteCloth from Milliken is a fabric infused with a cement mixture and a waterproof membrane backing. Crews can use the product to place concrete in "hard to reach" areas. The cloth can cure within 24 hours to 80% strength and reduces "the need for heavy machinery" due to its portability, coming in rolls that two workers can carry.

November 4th, 2012
Engineer: Car tires could halt hurricanes
Stephen Salter, a marine engineer and professor emeritus of engineering design at Edinburgh University in the U.K., has proposed a way to stop hurricanes in their tracks. His "Salter Sink" scheme uses thousands of car tires bound together that support plastic tubes extending deep into the sea to act as a pump to mix the warm surface water with cooler waters below. "If you can cool the sea surface, you would calm the hurricanes," Salter said.

October 30th, 2012
Concrete that heals itself to undergo testing
A new type of concrete is about to undergo outdoor testing. The material, which contains bacteria that produces limestone, is said to heal its own micro-cracks, according to researchers at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands. "We have to produce the self-healing agent in huge quantities, and we are starting to do outdoor tests, looking at different constructions, different types of concrete to see if this concept really works in practice," said microbiologist Henk Jonkers.

March 23rd, 2013
Concrete Canvas Shelter
An inflatable tent that turns into concrete when it gets wet has been developed by a pioneering British firm,  PSFK. The new Concrete Canvas Shelter, as it is called, is easily erected by two people in less than an hour and hardens into a concrete structure once it's been filled up with water and blown up, completely setting within a day. The UK-based Concrete Canvas company seems to have made the tent with the military in mind, but it will likely be useful in natural disaster situations as well.

March 11th, 2013
Self-healing asphalt
Erik Schlangen, an engineering professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, has developed a new kind of porous asphalt made with steel-wool fibers, which, when cracked, can be "healed" when heated with induction. The new asphalt has a lifespan twice that of regular porous asphalt and becomes "stronger after being heated."

March 2nd, 2013
Stephen Salter, emeritus professor of engineering design at Edinburgh university and a global pioneer of wave power research, has patented the idea of using thousands of tyres lashed together to support giant plastic tubes which extend 100 m deep into the ocean. Wave action on the ocean surface would force warm surface water down into the deeper ocean. If non-return valves were used, he says, the result would be to mix the waters and cool the surface temperature of the ocean to under 26.5C, the critical temperature at which hurricanes form.

4D printing
Self-assembly is the fundamental principle which generates structural organization on all scales from molecules to galaxies. It is defined as reversible processes in which pre-existing parts or disordered components of a preexisting system form structures of patterns. Self-assembly can be classified as either static or dynamic,  and can occur spontaneously in nature, for example in cells (such as the self-assembly of the lipid bilayer membrane) and other biological systems, as well as in human engineered systems. It usually results in the increase in internal organization of the system. Skylar Tibbits' latest technology for so-called "4D printing", uses water to activate and power strands of material that fold themselves into desired shapes.

February 27th, 2013
The world's first 3D printing pen
It's a pen that can draw in the air! 3Doodler is the 3D printing pen you can hold in your hand. Lift your imagination off the page!

February 26th, 2013
Cool roofs - the secret to energy savings
The color of your roof might mean a lot less money spent on cooling bills. But that color isn’t white!

Drinking water out of air
Agency Mayo DraftFCB created the first billboard that produces potable water from the air for UTEC, the University of Engineering and Technology in Peru. Lima is the second largest capital in the world set on a desert, and a lot of the residents draw water from wells, which can get polluted.

Self-healing protective coating for concrete
A nw "self-healing concrete coating" has been developed by a team of South Korean scientists that could "automatically seal cracks, preventing water from entering the material." The coating has microcapsules that contain a substance that can seal cracks. "Our self-healing coating is the first example of capsule-type photo-induced self-healing system, and offers the advantages of catalyst-free, environment-friendly, inexpensive, practical healing," the scientists said.
Chan-Moon Chung of Yonsei University in South Korea used a chemical approach to create self-healing concrete. He mixed methacryloxypropyl-terminated polydimethylsiloxane and benzoin isobutyl ether into small capsules made of urea and formaldehyde to keep the chemical mixture safe from sunlight and mixed them into the concrete. This article details how the capsules rupture and how their contents heals the cracks, providing resistance to water.

Ultra-Ever Dry
Ultra-Ever Dry is a superhydrophobic (water) and oleophobic (hydrocarbons) coating that will completely repel almost any liquid. Ultra-Ever Dry uses proprietary nanotechnology to coat an object and create a barrier of air on its surface. This barrier repels water, refined oil, wet concrete, and other liquids unlike any other coating. Ultra-Ever Dry has vastly improved adhesion and abrasion resistance, compared to previous technologies, allowing it to be used in applications where greater durability is required.
 Februrary 16th, 2013
3-D printing tested as way to build moon station
There are many building materials on Earth, but the moon offers only fine-grained lunar soil. However, that might be perfect for a 3-D printing process to build lunar habitats. Enrico Dini, inventor of the large-format 3-D printer D-Shape, is working with the European Space Agency and Foster + Partners using a simulated lunar soil to test the concept. "Our current printer builds at a rate of around two meters per hour. Our next-generation design should attain 3.5 meters per hour, completing an entire building in a week," Dini said.

February 15th, 2013
Metamaterials inspire earthquake bumpers for buildings
Metamaterials used to manipulate electromagnetic waves are the inspiration behind a new method that could mitigate the effect of earthquakes on buildings. It would involve makingstrategically located holes in the earth around buildings to act as a kind of shock absorber. (See also "Flexible metamaterials the key to a working invisibility cloak?")

February 12th, 2013
Solar glass
A special glass that generates electricity from the sun and can be made in most colors is closer to commercial use for construction, effectively turning buildings into photovoltaics. The glass would add about 10% to the costs above the price of traditional construction materials.

February 11th, 2013
Norway first floating tunnel
After the first world's first floating wind turbine, a floating bridge and floating tunnel is planned to be constructed along the E39 coastal highway in Norway, part of the country's $24.5 billion infrastructure program. The nearly 2.5-mile-long bridge is expected to achieve the world record for the longest floating span, while the tunnel, also about 2.5 miles long, would be the first of its kind in the world. The bridge project should set a new benchmark in construction design, according to government engineers. (See also "How to build the world’s longest floating bridge")

October 22nd, 2012
How highway bridges sing - water drops can help detect flaws in bridges
Researchers from Utah's Brigham Young University have developed a technique that uses water droplets to find structural flaws in bridges. "There is a difference between water hitting intact structures and water hitting flawed structures," said Brian Mazzeo, a BYU professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "We can detect things you can’t see with a visual inspection; things happening within the bridge itself."

October 21st, 2012
Inventor uses mushroom fibers to create sturdy building bricks
Amateur mycologist and inventor Phil Ross has submitted a patent for a sustainable construction material made out of mushrooms. According to Ross, the material is dry, lightweight, mold- and water-resistant and fireproof. Ross uses the bricks to build sculptures.

September 28th, 2012
Company to build 220-story prefab building in 7 months in China
China's Broad Sustainable Building plans to start construction on a 838 m and 220-story prefabricated building in November. It plans to finish it in just seven months. The tower, which would be the world's tallest prefab building, is designed to accommodate 100,000 people. The builder aims to employ the same methods it used in the construction of a 30-story structure that took 15 days to erect.

Update - October 17th, 2012
World's Tallest Skyscraper to Be Built in 210 Days Instead of 90 as Originally Planned

June 28th, 2012
Spray-on technology turns windows into solar panels
Researchers have developed a "spray-on" solar technology that can be applied to windows to turn them into photovoltaic panels. The tiny solar cells are sensitive enough to function in low-light conditions and could even capture light from indoor bulbs to generate electricity. "It puts energy harvesting everywhere," says solar-energy executive Ken McCauley.

June 21st, 2012
"Strain paint" detects problems in bridges, buildings
A paint made with carbon nanotubes and fluorescent properties can help identify structural strains in buildings, bridges and aircraft, according to a study by Rice University researchers. The "smart paint," which could be measured using a handheld infrared spectrometer, could reveal areas of stress and potential failure before they are visible.

June 12th, 2012
The use of nanotechnology to help develop stronger and more versatile building materials - especially cement - is a focus of scientists and cement makers. This piece discusses the work of a research team's use of "inorganic oxide nanotubes as natural means of reinforcements of cement pastes" and says their ability to "calculate the stability of cementitious nanotubes ... is an important step in developing suitable synthesis processes for these nanotubes."

May 10th, 2012
Bacteria could heal "concrete cancer" in buildings 
An experiment using a bacteria called bacilli megaterium generates calcite that can heal "concrete cancers" in buildings. This condition is a result of the structure's concrete swelling and cracking, and the bacterial "cure" was discovered through research led by Alan Richardson of Britain's Northumbria University. "This project is hugely exciting. The potential is there to have a building that can look after itself," said Richardson.

Material innovation: a phase-change building material 
As the construction industry shifts to using "green" products for a sustainable future, scientists are recreating the most basic materials such as concrete to make that goal a reality. This article notes developments of three innovative building materials: a phase-change material called "bioPCM" gel; Solidia's plastic-based concrete alternative; and Novacem's carbon-negative magnesium oxide-based concrete alternative, which absorbs more carbon from the air during its production process than it releases.

April 24th, 2012
News in building design: a robotic arm weaves a structure like a spider
It’s a non-autonomous robotic arm pre-programmed to weave a structure out of its own surroundings. Much like a spider weaves a web between things – walls, branches, the head of a flower, this robotic arm is doing the same — creating a space within structural and environmental requirements of the space.
The practical applications of using a robot to weave a structure is that it could become a deployable platform capable of building a large structure, like say a gantry platform inside or around another large structure.
A gantry platform is a rigid steel or aluminum framework or walkway
used inside stadiums, over vehicles or in environmental situations,
like inspection walkways, building sites or platforms

“We are just beginning to explore the different forms and shapes that we can generate,” said Elizabeth Tsai, Research Associate, MIT Media Lab. “The full implications of autonomous fabrication dependent on structural and environmental conditions are still unclear but may result in woven habitats with properties that vary locally, resulting in a high degree of material and structural efficiency.” The goal of the research is to develop and apply novel processes that will enable and support design of physical matter that can be adapted to its specific environmental conditions – by doing this they hope they can transform design and construction of objects, buildings and systems. 

April 6th, 2012
Reinforced masonry walls with high-tech "seismic wallpaper"
"Seismic wallpaper," developed by German researchers, is designed to stabilize walls during an earthquake. The wallpaper is made from hard, high-strength glass fibers woven in four directions to create a strong elastic covering that is adhered to masonry walls. It was tested on a model house in an earthquake simulator and the walls did not collapse.
March 22nd, 2012
Researchers at Loughborough University have developed an innovative new concrete printing process that is said to be capable of producing large scale building components with a degree of customisation that has not yet been seen. The novel process relies on a highly controlled extrusion of cement based mortar, which is precisely positioned according to computer data. The researchers believe the process has the potential to create architecture that is more unique in form and claim it could create a new era of architecture that is adapted to the environment and fully integrated with engineering function. Professor Simon Austin, co-investigator at Loughborough University added: "We have shown how additive manufacturing can be developed to create large structures, such as panels and walls, with precisely controlled voids within them." The researchers are currently moving the system from a 3-axis gantry to a 7-axis robotic arm in order to maximise the printing quality, speed and size. They are confident that the technology will have a bright future in the construction industry.  

March 3rd, 2012
"Bendable" concrete to strengthen quake-prone buildings in N.Z.
Flexus, a "bendable" concrete that can be sprayed onto building walls, will be used to reinforce some older buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand, to make them more earthquake resistant. The engineered concrete uses polyvinyl alcohol synthetic fibers mixed with concrete to provide tensile strength. "If we spray this material onto them, we can turn [them] into something that can bend and take the earthquake loads and keep the building together," said Derek Lawley of Reid Construction Systems.

Smart alloys offer quick repair for damaged bridge columns
Wire made from a nickel-titanium-niobium alloy can be wrapped around bridge columns and then heated with a torch to provide a sort of shrink-wrapping that helps repair damage and adds strength. "Other methods need skilful labor and time, days or weeks, while this new technique needs no skills and the SMA spirals could be wrapped and heated in a few hours," said Bassem Andrawes of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
March 2nd, 2012
System would "levitate" houses during earthquakes to avoid damage
A system that allows houses to "levitate" during earthquakes to protect them from structural damage has been developed by Japan-based Air Danshin Systems. In the event of an earthquake, the system's sensor activates a compressor that forces air under the house, lifting it off its foundation by as much as three centimeters. Indoor air valves maintain constant pressure to steady the house as it floats on the inflated cushion. As the shaking subsides, air is slowly released and the house settles back upon an "earthquake-resistant reinforced concrete foundation."

March 1st, 2012
Concrete slot reduces shake damage
Researchers at Canterbury University in New Zealand have improved on a slotted concrete beam concept to enhance the performance of reinforced-concrete buildings during earthquakes. Tests done using the slotted beam on a scale model showed that flexibility had been added, resulting in less damage to floors and frames during a quake.
The concept is not new, and it has been applied first to steel structures placed in active seismic areas (Proprietary Slotted Beam Connection Designs, 1997). Notches and indentations are commonly applied to steel structures used as dampers or shock load absorbers in car crash.

February 23rd, 2012 
A new machine that can create solid objects via 3D printing using the sun and sand is another development in 3D printing technology. Markus Kayser, a German 3D designer, set up his Solar Sinter -- a machine that works like a 3D printer powered by a solar array -- in the Sahara Desert in Egypt. The concentrated sunlight from the solar cells is focused onto a lens that creates a beam that melts the sand to create a glass or ceramic item. Kayser said he sees "great potential in architecture and infrastructure (sanitary, water canals) for the process." 

February 18th, 2012
Magnus Larsson: Turning dunes into architecture
"Sand is a magical material of beautiful contradictions. It is simple and complex. It is peaceful and violent. It is always the same, never the same, endlessly fascinating.” Magnus Larsson hopes to build new structures in the desert - by using bacteria to turn shifting sand into a solid mass.

February 9th, 2012
Shape-memory alloys take an earthquake’s punches

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are evaluating shape-memory alloys for their potential to limit the effects of earthquake shock in structures. "Shape-memory alloys exhibit unique characteristics that you would want for earthquake-resistant building and bridge design and retrofit applications," said Reginald DesRoches, a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "They have the ability to dissipate significant energy without significant degradation or permanent deformation."

January 16th, 2012
New concrete: Cook carbon nanotubes, add coal ash and mix
A new concrete mixture was developed by a team of researchers from Auburn University and the University of Alabama that utilizes toxic coal ash. The experiment also incorporates the use of carbon nanotubes "cooked" with an iron compound for 10 seconds in a microwave oven to strengthen the concrete and make it capable of conducting electricity.

January 13th, 2012
Architectural "fuse" to save buildings during earthquakes
Engineers at Stanford University and Northeastern University have teamed up to develop a design system to help buildings survive severe seismic shaking. The rocking frame contains three elements: steel cables that control rocking; steel fuses that absorb the earthquakes' shock; and steel cables that pull the building back in place. The seismic force is directed toward the self-contained - and replaceable - steel fuses.

January 10th, 2012

NASA's New Sensor-Driven, Ultra Green Building
A new building at the Ames Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Mountain View, Calif., is slated to receive LEED Platinum status because of its features and design that promote energy-efficiency. The two-story "Sustainability Lab" has 5,000 wireless sensors that regulate indoor temperature and air flow, as well as solar panels and geothermal wells that provide energy. The building also made use of recycled materials.

January 9th, 2012

Paving slabs convert energy from footsteps

PaveGen tiles are paving slabs made from recycled rubber and designed to harvest kinetic energy from the impact of people stepping on them. The electricity created can be distributed to nearby appliances. The first commercial application, where 20 tiles will be used on a pathway between London Olympic stadium and Westfield Stratford City mall in the U.K., is expected to power about half of the mall's outdoor lighting needs, based on an estimated 30 million people that would use the path in its first year.

January 7th, 2012

30 Story Hotel Completely Built and Finished in Fifteen Days, on New Years Eve (Amazing Video)

A 30-story, 170,000-square-foot hotel that can withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake was built by Broad Sustainable Construction in Hunan Province, China. The time-lapse video shows it took just a little over 15 days -- not counting foundation work or the time it took to create the prefabricated slabs that were lifted up "completely wired, plumbed, tiled and drywalled." The speed with which the hotel was assembled will have a significant impact on the architecture and construction industries, writes architect Lloyd Alter.
January 5th, 2012
Phase-change materials could revolutionize sustainable building systems
The energy-saving aspect of using phase-change materials, such as the "bioPCM" gel used in one of the University of Washington's Seattle campus buildings, makes it an attractive, useful product for the construction industry. The gel, which absorbs and releases large amounts of energy, is expected to cut by 98% the amount of energy needed to cool office space. The market for the gel is expected to grow to about $130 million in eight years, compared to a market near $0 today.

December 16th, 2011

How to Build a Smarter Airport Terminal
Arup, a professional services firm, used a modeling technology and an acoustical modeling program to help make a smart terminal out of JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. Arup used its MassMotion technology to predict the movement of people inside the area, where it "can not only fine-tune, but also change elements in the model and see how people react." The company also used SoundLab to "assess a building’s acoustics before it’s ever built."

December 15th, 2011

Recycled Plastic-Based Concrete: Would You Drive on It?

Concrete is a ubiquitous building material, but production of its cement component is said to contribute to carbon dioxide emissions. New Jersey-based Axion International could alleviate that problem. It has developed a building product from recycled hard plastic that does not "rust, splinter, crumble, rot, absorb moisture or leach toxic chemicals into the environment," and says it could someday replace concrete, steel and wood.
November 31st, 2011
5 guidelines for tall buildings
The Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat is working to develop tools and standards for better building design. The group will publish five design guidelines next year on wind-tunnel testing, performance-based seismic design, column shortening, structural outriggers and foundations and natural ventilation. It is also conducting a fire safety research project that aims to create and validate a methodology that can “adequately and realistically introduce the effects of fire into modern tall-building design.”

November 10th, 2011
N.J. tech company develops carbon-negative building material
New Jersey-based Solidia Technologies has developed a platform to manufacture a building material that is tougher than concrete, made from recycled materials and carbon negative, using a process called Low Temperature Solidification. LTS blends -- at low temperature and pressure -- recycled waste materials, natural minerals and carbon dioxide. "As architects designing for a sustainable future, we are seeking new products that are not just qualitatively better, but radically address our carbon footprint. I believe Solidia Technologies has developed such a material," said Rick Cook, architect of New York City’s first LEED Platinum building.

October 27th, 2011
Stanford researchers build transparent super stretching skin-like sensor
A team of researchers working in the lab of Stanford's Zhenan Bao has developed a new type of artificial skin which is both pressure sensitive and completely elastic. Single-walled carbon nanotubes sprayed on a layer of silicon are used to create a "transparent skin-like pressure sensor."

The amazing spherical flying machine - an ideal tool for any rescue mission
The drone can stand still in mid-air, fly vertically and horizontally through narrow spaces at up to 60km/h, and (which is very cool) keep on moving when it hits the ground or a wall. Thanks to three gyro sensors in its body, the machine can keep also flying even if it’s hit by an obstacle.

October 26th, 2011
The first translucent concrete

The first commercially available transparent concrete, or Light Transmitting Concrete, was developed by Aron Losonczi, a Hungarian architect. LiTraCon is a combination of concrete and optical fiber strands that comprise just 4% of the block's total volume, and "can theoretically transmit light up to a thickness of 65 feet."

Cold in-place recycling is being used to resurface a road in San Jose, Calif. The existing road is torn up and the debris is fed into machines that break it up before spitting all of it back onto the road, which then gets a two-inch layer of new asphalt made from recycled tires. The process is about 23% less expensive than conventional paving.

October 25th, 2011
The first recycled thermoplastic road bridge was in 2009
The bridge is constructed of recycled post-consumer plastic and scrap automotive bumpers, and it is strong enough to carry vehicles weighing up to 88 tons. It can be used in almost any situation where a chemically-treated wood timber bridge would traditionally be used. It inherently resists rot and insects and has virtually no maintenance requirements, which makes it especially suitable for use in remote areas.

Technology, Aplicability and Future of Thermoplastic Timber

3D concrete printing
Imagine producing a 1.12-ton reinforced concrete bench from a printer and you will realize that "(a)nything is possible. We are working with a prototype, but within five years -- with money and desire -- there's no limit to what could be printed," said Richard Buswell, senior lecturer at Loughborough University in the U.K. and a researcher on the concrete printing project. This is just one of several innovations discussed in this piece that will help construction become sustainable. 
Calatrava's first project in the southeastern United States promises to be a stunner. The massive structure of concrete, steel and glass will be nearly two football fields long and two stories high. Its soaring atrium is expected to glow like a beacon at night. A set of overhead "wings," up to 100 feet long, will open and close as the sun moves though the sky. "It will be dynamite," said Gene Engle, head of the USF Poly board.
September 29th, 2011
Lessons learned from the earthquake performance of concrete dams

In an update to a 1979 paper on the response of concrete dams to earthquakes, Kenneth D Hansen and Larry K Nuss present details on the earthquake performance of six dams, and discuss their significance for the dam engineering profession.

How genetic engineering of bacteria can be used to repairconcrete

BacillaFilla could be the next big building material -- it's said to repair cracked concrete in an eco-friendly way and thus extend the life of concrete structures. It's made from bacteria commonly found in soil that has been genetically modified to react to concrete's pH. As the bacteria grows, three cell types are formed. "One type produces crystals of calcium carbonate; one develops filament-like cells that serve as reinforcing fibers, and the third produces glue that acts as a binding agent and fills the gap," explains Korky Koroluk. "Ultimately, the repair cures to the same strength as the surrounding concrete."

September 21st, 2011
WTC collapse may have been caused by explosive chemical reaction
Molten aluminum from the aircraft hulls mixed with water from the sprinkler systems at the World Trade center could be responsible for the collapse of the twin towers, according to a study by Christian Simensen, a scientist at SINTEF, a Norwegian research institute. He said the two jets that flew into the buildings were "trapped inside an insulating layer of building debris," which caused the heat to rise, melting tons of aluminum. When hot aluminum mixes with water, explosions occur. To prevent similar explosions, "We could develop means of rapidly emptying sprinkler systems in the floors beneath the point of impact," said Simensen.

September 11th, 2011
Skyscrapers utilize advanced construction materials after 9/11
After the 9/11 attacks, the development of stronger construction materials became the focus of inventors. These include a type of concrete that can withstand 25,000 psi [n.b. - aprox. 180 MPa], a stronger type of steel called "Flash Bainite", and chemical bonds that make glass less likely to shatter. More advanced building designs include skybridges for an additional evacuation route and emergency exits that are better-protected by concrete.
August 22th, 2011 
Canadian city experiments with rubber sidewalk tiles
A rubber-tile sidewalk has been installed along a street in Vancouver, British Columbia, as part of a project to test its durability. The tiles are made from recycled tires and are designed not to crack. The rubber tiles are more expensive than concrete but will cost less to maintain and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, says Jonas Moon, a project engineer with the city.

August 10th, 2011

The world's first photovoltaic window
A new solar window from Israel can generate power, reduce energy consumption and let in daylight, promising a green revolution to the construction industry. The world's first transparent photovoltaic glass unit (PVGU) has been designed to be easily integrated into conventional building design and construction processes. This means that existing office blocks can be retrofitted with the new material instead of energy-seeping glass windows - a process that will pay itself back within five years.

August 9th, 2011
MIT researchers chip away at the mysteries of concrete

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will hold a symposium this week to discuss their efforts to make concrete more environmentally friendly. Scientists are working to "change the [properties of concrete] by changing the composition and structure down at the atomistic scale," said Krystyn Van Vliet, associate professor of materials science and engineering at MIT. Discovering the "DNA of concrete" could allow them to produce new formulations with desirable properties such as increased strength.

August 1st, 2011

Researchers in the U.K. are developing methods to make porous materials and solid foams that could mimic structural behavior that occurs in nature. "There are different ways of achieving it, but at the end of the day what we want to achieve is to tailor mechanical properties for a specific purpose -- for example, preferential bending or to mimic bone for better prosthetics," says Dr. Carmen Torres-Sanchez of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University in the U.K.

A stretchy skin that could be used to detect cracks in concrete structures is in development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a German university. The stretchable skin would be rolled over structures to periodically detect the formation of cracks. "The sensing skin has the remarkable advantage of being able to both sense a change in the general performance of the structure and also know the damage location at a pre-defined level of precision," researcher Simon Laflamme said.

July 12th, 2011
Study could affect predicting lifespan of buildings, large structures
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are using molecular-dynamics simulation, a modeling technique for studying the molecular behavior of different substances to understand material deterioration. They studied what happens when moisture hits the interface between the silica in concrete and the epoxy in material used as a surface wrap for concrete. They learned the adhesive strength between the two is then weakened, compromising the strength of the structural component. The researchers hope the results of the study can be used by structural and design engineers in estimating the lifespan of large structures and building components. 

July 7th, 2011
3-D printing of your own building?
Neri Oxman is an architect and professor who is studying the possibility of constructing buildings using three-dimensional printing technology. If feasible, this could revolutionize the manufacture of prefabricated construction materials of the future. As 3-D printers evolve, it's possible to create layered structures from plastic and metal.

July 4th, 2011
Researchers in Japan have developed a super-elastic alloy that could return to its original form [a shape memory alloy - n.b.] at any temperature and could be used in buildings to absorb shocks from earthquakes. The material is a combination of nickel and iron-based alloy that when applied to buildings could help resist the stress and vibrations during earthquakes.

July 1st, 2011
China is now home to the world's longest bridge. The 102-mile Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge is part of a massive railroad project that opened to the public this week. The country also unveiled the world's longest over-water bridge, a 26.4-mile span that will carry an estimated 30,000 cars each day.

June 23rd, 2011 
Engineers from North Carolina State University developed an optical sensor that can gauge strain in structures and heal itself if broken during an earthquake or other calamity. A materials engineer calls it an "interesting concept," but says the technique used to create it might be better applied to the structural material itself.

June 21st, 2011
Researcher reinforces concrete with nanotechnology
Could the answer to concrete cracks and erosion be found in nanotechnology? Jon Belkowitz, a concrete specialist at Stevens Institute of Technology, is working with nano silica to enhance the mechanical properties of concrete. "Through the use of nanostructure characterization tools, we now have the ability to gain a better understanding of the hydrated cement matrix that makes up concrete," he said.

June 10th, 2011

Building material could reduce structural damage from earthquakes
Nitinol, an alloy of nickel and aluminum that features "shape memory," is being investigated as a building material. Because it can return to its original shape after being deformed, it could have potential use as an energy-absorbing damper in buildings to absorb shock from seismic activity. This could make the structure more resistant to quake damage.

June 6th, 2011
A two-mile long above-ground tunnel in Belgium -- part of a Paris to Amsterdam rail line -- is equipped with 16,000 solar panels. "For train operators, it is the perfect way to cut their carbon footprints because you can use spaces that have no other economic value and the projects can be delivered within a year because they don't attract the protests that wind power does," says U.K. Enfinity's Bart Van Renterghem. Meanwhile, a new rail station in London will have 4,400 solar panels that could provide 50% of the station's electricity.

June 3rd, 2011
The combined strength of laminated veneer lumber, pierced with post-tensioned steel rods from end to end, could help structures withstand earthquakes. A prototype building constructed of this material and built at Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand, survived the magnitude 6.3 earthquake in February. The prototype is the focus of a research venture headed by Dr. Andy Buchanan, who is working with an architectural firm to see if the timber could be used to rebuild Christchurch.

May 25th, 2011
Concrete, done correctly, helps buildings survive quakes
Earthquake engineer Elizabeth Hausler says concrete-reinforced buildings have a better chance of surviving a tremor. But, she adds, construction has to happen in the right order. Developers in China, Indonesia and Haiti were using the confined masonry method, "but they were not doing it correctly and in many cases there was no connection between the masonry walls and columns," Hausler says. "Simple changes to the sequence of construction, like building the walls before the columns, can make a big difference to the building's strength." 

Engineered timber used in buildings could withstand quake
Civil engineers at Canterbury University in New Zealand have developed a commercial building model composed of post-tensioned timbers that could endure the pressures of an earthquake. The prototype building has been subjected to numerous earthquake simulations and survived. Post-tensioned timber is an engineered wood made from peeled veneers compressed into columns, making it both more solid and more resilient.

May 23rd, 2011
Researchers develop quick method for bridge building
Using advanced composite materials in the construction industry could be the answer to building bridges in half the time, according to the researchers at Bristol University in the U.K. The researchers' model incorporates decks made of glass- or carbon-fiber composite materials. The materials, combined with an efficient construction process and pre-stressed concrete, could make it possible to speed up construction. 

May 18th, 2011 
China admits Three Gorges Dam created problems along with benefits
China has admitted that the $37.47 billion Three Gorges Dam project -- which dislocated 1.3 million people -- has created environmental, geologic and economic problems that need urgent resolution. "At the same time ... [the project] provides huge comprehensive benefits, urgent problems must be resolved regarding the smooth relocation of residents, ecological protection, and geological disaster prevention," the Chinese government said. The hydropower project has affected shipping, irrigation and water supplies along the Yangtze River. 

May 17th, 2011
ARDEX Americas, a maker of cements and adhesives for the building industry, is exploring new products to meet the demand for "green" materials. CEO Stephan Liozu gave up his office and turned it into an "Innovation Station," a place for employees to brainstorm. Liozu says he is aiming for "breakthrough and radical innovation." 

May 9th, 2011
Research continues on concrete additives
To reduce the carbon footprint, cement is often mixed with fly ash and slag to make concrete. Now researchers at The National Research Council of Canada-Institute for Research in Construction are adding powders from materials such as slag from non-ferrous steel production, metal insulator ash and metal kaolin to create higher performance concrete. However, the set-up time could alter construction deadlines, and the curing process needs particular attention. 

May 5th, 2011
Engineering students build bricks with recycled glass
Two engineering graduate students at the University of Washington have discovered that recycled glass can be used to make bricks. Renuka Prabhakar and Grant Marchelli, who named their invention VitroBricks, said the production of glass-made bricks requires 80% less fuel as it depends on a shorter period of heating at a lower temperature than clay bricks. Prabhakar and Marchelli said bricks made from recycled glass are lighter, more durable and provide better insulation than typical building bricks.

Turkey to build vast canal near Istanbul to ease sea traffic

Turkey plans to build a new canal to connect the Black and Marmara seas in order to reduce congestion in the Bosporus Strait. The proposed Istanbul Canal would run for about 30 miles at 500 feet wide and 80 feet deep. The canal is expected to be completed by 2023, but the estimated cost was not disclosed. "With an infinite amount of money, it's certainly doable," said William Marcuson 

April 25th, 2011
Experts use virus to help improve solar cells' efficiency
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a study, published in Nature Nanotechnology, in which it successfully used a genetically engineered virus to keep carbon nanotubes separate from one another in solar cells, facilitating the conversion of power from solar energy. Previous research found the nanotubes could make the collection of electrons from a solar cell's surface more efficient, but the tubes become tangled, reducing the cells' effectiveness.

April 23rd, 2011
NYC to be home to first museum devoted to mathematics
Former hedge fund analyst Glen Whitney plans to open a museum of mathematics in New York City, the first of its kind in the U.S., where "[v]isitors can see -- and physically experience -- how math makes the seemingly impossible not only possible, but fun." The museum is designed to help people see the interesting side of math, added Whitney. "No one element is going to change around the whole national culture, but I think this could make a difference in both enlarging kids' understanding of the world and in their life prospects," said Sylvain Cappell, a professor at New York University.

April 21st, 2011
"Polymer concrete" said to be more durable
The Kansas Polymer Research Center has created a form of concrete said to be 10 times more durable than ordinary concrete. Developed with a soybean-based polyurethane as its binding agent, KPRC's "polymer concrete" has been awarded a patent, and the research center hopes to work out details of its manufacture and distribution with potential partners. "What is unique is what [our concrete] is made of and what you can do with it," said Zoran Petrovic, research director at KRPC. "It's flexible enough to create anything from marble for construction to even jewelry. I can see a lot of opportunities here."

April 18th, 2011
"Slushy ice" helps clean pipes, improve water quality
A new technique to clean drinking-water pipes uses "slushy ice" to sweep away sediment. Developed by U.K.-based United Utilities, the process offers significant benefits over traditional cleaning that can entail digging. "We can pump the ice slush in and out using hydrants in the roadway," a United Utilities official said. "The whole procedure takes just a few hours, and the results are great."

Saudi Arabia to build first mile-high building
Work has begun in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on a mile-high skyscraper. The $30 billion Kingdom Tower is planned to be the world's tallest building and will include offices, residences and a hotel.

April 11th, 2011
Bacteria could cure micro-cracking in concrete

Researchers in Europe are developing a "biological concrete" that can repair its own cracks. A combination of bacteria and other materials mixed in the concrete would be activated by moisture seeping through cracks and would convert some nutrients into limestone, sealing the crack. "There's a lot of work still to be done on biological concrete, and it has a lot of potential," said Dr. Nele De Belie, one of the researchers 

April 3rd, 2011
The University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center is being recognized with a prestigious national award for innovation. The center was awarded the Pankow Award for Innovation on Thursday at an awards gala in Washington, D.C., put on by the American Society for Civil Engineering. The center was honored for developing its so-called "bridge in a backpack" technology, which allows materials used to make the arches for bridge spans to be carried to a construction site in duffel bags. Once at the site, the material is inflated and filled with concrete to form arches that support a bridge span. The technology allows construction workers to build a bridge in a matter of days instead of weeks.

March 29th, 2011 
London's Olympic stadium is complete
More than 350 rolls of turf later, the $780 million, 80,000-seat Olympic stadium in London is officially complete. The project came in under budget and finished three months ahead of schedule.

March 28th, 2011
MIT researchers say artificial leaf can power a home for a day
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology made an artificial leaf that uses sunlight and water in a process similar to photosynthesis to generate electricity. The mini-solar panel splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, then stores them in fuel cells. Researchers say the leaf, which is inexpensive to make, could provide clean, renewable energy to developing countries, where a single unit can power a house for a day.

March 23rd, 2011
Massachusetts requires four years of math for university admission 
The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education decided Tuesday to require four years of math in high school for admission to the state's universities, beginning with the class that enters in the fall of 2016. The current requirement is three years of high school math. "This is a significant step forward,'' said Richard Freeland, a state commissioner of higher education.

March 18th, 2011
"Bioactive" cement uses bacteria to neutralize organisms
One of the latest areas of biotechnology innovation is in cement: Researchers are looking to "bioactive" cement, a mix that includes bacteria designed to immobilize living cells. The cement mix could be particularly useful for constructing sewers, large columns or reactive walls. An initial study has shown that bioactive cement offers good mechanical and chemical stability.
March 16th, 2011
Internally cured concrete revives ancient building "technology"
Internally cured concrete dates back to Roman times and is the secret to the strength of the freestanding Pantheon, which is built of unreinforced concrete. The old "technology" is finding new life in the building of bridges, pavements, water tanks and rail yards. The concrete internally cures with water-filled lightweight aggregates that release water as needed to hydrate cement particles. Internally cured concrete bridges are estimated to have a life of 40 years versus 22 years for conventional concrete.

March 14th, 2011
A committee of engineers will look into how best to design tsunami-resistant buildings. Ioan Nistor [Nota bene: born in Iasi; he graduated the Faculty of Hydrotechnical Engineering of the "Gh. Asachi" Technical University of Iasi], an expert in coastal engineering at the University of Ottawa in Canada, will work with a committee organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers. "Even if a building can withstand an earthquake, there's no guarantee it can withstand a tsunami," said Nistor, who conducted preliminary work on tsunamis after the 2004 tsunami hit Indonesia.

March 11th, 2011
Japan Earthquake: before and after - (The New York Times)
Japan Earthquake: before and after - (ABC News)

March 5th, 2011
BBC News: Microscope with 50-nanometre resolution demonstrated
UK researchers have demonstrated the highest-resolution optical microscope ever - aided by tiny glass beads.

March 4th, 2011
Canadian researchers develop more durable, crack-resistant concrete
Researchers in Canada have developed a more durable concrete that resists cracking and promises to extend the life of public infrastructure. The team at the National Research Council in Ottawa experimented with using porous shale soaked in water instead of sand in the mix. Once the cement and water are mixed with it, the shale holds in the water and keeps the concrete hydrated from the inside out. "We're very concerned about the durability of structures," said Daniel Cusson, the team's lead researcher. He estimates the crack-resistant concrete could provide long-term savings of up to 40% on a structure.
Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada found a cost-effective solution to its radon contamination problem in the form of an aerated plastic-riser foundation system called Cupolex. The series of void structures promotes air displacement, dispensing with common ventilation equipment without jeopardizing structural integrity.

Students from high schools in Duluth, Minn., gathered to compete and construct bridges using nothing but toothpicks. "We believe this is an excellent learning experience for students who possibly want to get into engineering or understand engineering a little better," said John Hinzman, a member of ASCE, which sponsored the competition.

February 24th, 2011
Engineers turn ideas into reality

Parents need to let children know what engineers do and the value they provide to society, writes mechanical engineering professor Mariappan Jawaharlal. He suggests that by doing that, we can encourage children to dream -- and make those dreams a reality. The fact that "our brightest talents are not choosing engineering, technology, science or math is a threat facing this nation," he writes. 

Velodrome vision for the 2012 London Olympics realized
The 6,000-seat velodrome featuring a 360-degree glass viewing concourse is ready for the 2012 London Olympics. Mike Taylor of Hopkins Architects, the project team's lead, emphasized the uniqueness of the cycling center's roof, which has tons of steel held in place by thin cables, and its sleek, elliptical track made up of 35 miles of Siberian pine surface timber.
London 2012: Olympic Games - Webcams

February 22nd, 2011
What happened to the buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand?

Samir Chidiac, a civil engineering professor at McMaster University in Ontario, discusses the damage caused by the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that hit New Zealand and talks about ductility and the trade-off between economics and building to withstand quakes.

February 21st, 2011
Panama Canal cofferdam on schedule for spring completion
A $42.3 million, 58-cell cofferdam, which will hold back water during the $5.2 billion Third Lane Expansion Project on the Panama Canal, is scheduled for completion this spring. Each cell is dredged and underwater tremie concrete is placed as needed and then the cells are surrounded by sheet piling.
U.K. architectural firm sets record with 100-story tower in China
TFP Farrells' 441 m Kingkey Finance Tower in Shenzhen, China, is touted to become the tallest building ever designed by a British architectural firm when it tops out soon. The skyscraper is divided into apartments, office space, shops, a five-star hotel and five levels of a "sky garden."

February 20th, 2011
Graphene is full of promise
Made of pure carbon, a new high-tech material called graphene is the thinnest known material in the universe and the strongest ever measured, scientists say. They note that graphene can be bent, rolled and folded. Start-ups and established companies alike are researching commercial applications for the product. Graphene Energy of Austin hopes to use the material to store renewable energy from solar cells, for example.

February 18th, 2011
An eye-catching spiral skyscraper with a garden on every level is being planned for Abu Dhabi.

February 17th, 2011
The Absolute Towers
The complex fabrication of a $24.5-milion tubular, webbed helix of red steel has set back the completion date for the Santiago Calatrava-designed footbrigde in Calgary from fall 2010 to mid-June 2011.
Paul Edmiston, a chemistry professor at Wooster College in Northcentral Ohio, started out looking for a compound that would help detect explosives at airports. What he found instead was a material that hates water but loves hydrocarbons like oil with a passion.

A link between Cartagena in the Caribbean to an unspecified site on the country's Pacific coast would facilitate Chinese imports.
After extensive testing at Oxelösund, a Swedish port, the STABCON team discovered that dredged-up soft sediment strengthened with cement and Merit 5000 (a product used in steel-making), hardened into a safe material that could be used as a building block.
A cable-stayed bridge design is one of three alternatives favored by a Columbia River Crossing review team.

January 13th, 2011
Unde-i standard, nu-i tocmeală

[...] de la ce subiect am plecat şi ce-am descoperit până la urmă, mie mi se pare a fi cu adevărat şocant şi nu cred că este nimic exagerat în ceea ce afirm.

December 12th, 2010
Stairway to Heaven
Absolutely breathtaking: free climbing to repair an antenna at... 540 m altitude!

November 29th, 2010
Smog eating concrete
The concrete contains an active ingredient that captures pollution and U.V. light from the sun breaks it down into harmless chemicals. MODOT officials say tests in Italy show there's been a 40 percent reduction in pollution. They also say St. Louis is the first place in the country to use the "smog eating concrete."

November 21st, 2010

November 19th, 2010
MGM could implode unopened CityCenter hotel in Las Vegas
The still unopened Harmon Hotel, a 27-story centerpiece of the now financially hemorrhaging CityCenter development in Las Vegas, is being targeted for demolition. MGM Resorts International, owner of the troubled 67-acre complex that includes the hotel designed by U.K. “starchitect” Sir Norman Foster, recently unveiled plans to raze it. MGM took a $279-million write-down in the third quarter on the building, which sits dormant with a sign wrapped around its gleaming glass façade for the resort’s “Viva Elvis” show. Harmon may be the world’s most expensive billboard.

November 12th, 2010
Massive fake quake shakes 6-story condo
A massive simulated earthquake will rock a six-story wooden condominium to the brink of collapse during one of the largest shake-table experiments undertaken to date.

November 10th, 2010
Punct, radical şi de la capăt

Sistemul normativ românesc în domeniul construcţiilor este într-un haos total. Se impune cu extrem de mare urgenţă o reformă radicală a cadrului normativ şi legislativ.

October 19th, 2010

October 6th, 2010
Netherlands rail tunnel excavation tricky below sea level
The construction of a high-speed rail line -- a $490 million project -- in Rotterdam in the Netherlands is putting excavation crews in close contact with hydraulic engineers, given the site's proximity to the coastline. Most streets lie below sea level, and excavators need dig only a bit to almost reach ground water, however, the lowest level stations and tunnels are down 75 feet.

September 6th, 2010
Gotthard base tunnel

Constructing an underground tunnel like the Gotthard, which at 57 kilometres long will be the longest worldwide, is a feat of engineering.

March 23rd, 2010
Rocking frame may allow earthquake-proof building
Researchers from Stanford University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are studying ways to allow buildings to sway with the motion of earthquakes. The researchers developed the Controlled Rocking Frame system for steel-frame buildings that features replaceable shock diffusers.
 February 16th, 2010
Terrifying landslide in calabria (Italy) caught on video
No deaths have been reported as a result of the landslide, which is believed to have been caused by heavy rains over the last few days saturating the ground and making it unstable.
February 9th, 2010
China prepares to salvage CCTV tower
Engineers have assured the downtown Beijing building's structural soundness. Now the Chinese government plans to rebuild the 44-story Television Cultural Center. Fireworks ignited a blaze last February that left the $730 million complex severely damaged.
February 7th, 2010
Interior plaster for temperature control (a new BASF patent)
Phase change materials can absorb extreme summer heat, in this way ensuring pleasant room temperatures. This means air conditioning, mechanical process for controlling the humidity, temperature, cleanliness, and circulation of air in buildings and rooms. Indoor air is conditioned and regulated to maintain the temperature-humidity ratio that is most comfortable and healthful. costs can be significantly lowered or with optimal planning eliminated completely.

February 6th, 2010
UTS tower to get glowing eco-skin
Tower Skin is a transparent cocoon that acts as a high performance ‘micro climate’. It generates energy with photo-voltaic cells, collects rain water, improves day lighting and uses available convective energy to power the towers’ ventilation requirements. The tower is wrapped with three-dimensional lightweight, high-performance, composite mesh textile. Surface tension allows the membrane to freely stretch around walls and roof elements, achieving maximum visual impact with minimal material effort.

February 3rd, 2010
The longest bridge in the world
It's 30 miles long, will cost £6.6bn to build, can handle earthquakes of magnitude 8.0, and withstand the impact of a 300,000-tonne vessel. The scale is breathtaking. The bridge is one of the most technically complicated landmark projects in China's, and the world's, transport history. Not many bridges, for example, include a tunnel section that travels underwater. And it will bring economic ties closer in the region, underlining the Pearl River Delta's status as one of the world's great economic powerhouses.
February 2nd, 2010
Huge hydroelectric dam approved in Brazil's Amazon

Brazil granted an environmental license on Monday for the construction of a controversial hydroelectric dam in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The $17 billion project on the Xingu River in the northern state of Para will help the fast-growing Latin American country cope with soaring demand for electricity but has raised concern about its impact on the environment and native Indians. Environment Minister Carlos Minc said 97 square miles/500 sq km of land would be flooded by the Belo Monte dam, a fraction of the 1,900 square miles/5,000 sq km, in the original plans that involved four hydroelectric dams. It was scaled down for ecological reasons.

February 1st, 2010 
Nanotechnolgy: Smart mud could be the new plastic
Could a mixture of water and clay replace plastics? The desire to wean the world off oil has sparked all manner of research into novel transportation fuels, but manufacturing plastics uses large amounts of oil too. Researchers at the University of Tokyo, Japan, think their material could be up to the task. Takuzo Aida and his team mixed a few grams of clay with 100 grams of water in the presence of tiny quantities of a thickening agent called sodium polyacrylate and an organic "molecular glue". The thickening agent teases apart the clay into thin sheets, increasing its surface area and allowing the glue to get a better hold on it. This means that, while the mixture is almost 98 per cent water, it forms a transparent and elastic hydrogel with sufficient mechanical strength to make a 3.5-centimetre-wide self-standing bridge.
Self-repairing hydrogel: The strength of the material depends on the sum of the forces acting between the molecules in the clay nanosheets and the glue, says Aida. These so-called supramolecular forces, such as hydrogen bonds, also help to trap water molecules between the clay sheets. Some other hydrogels rely on covalent chemical bonds rather than supramolecular forces for their strength. One disadvantage of this is that when the covalent bonds break, the material irreversibly loses its strength, says Aida. Supramolecular forces, on the other hand, can easily reform, so if the material fails under stress it can quickly regain its strength. The gel takes just 3 minutes to form, and making it requires no understanding of the chemical process involved, Aida says, – a fact that impresses Craig Hawker at the University of California in Santa Barbara, who was not involved with the study. "One of the primary breakthroughs is the overall simplicity of the procedure coupled with the exceptional physical properties of the final assemblies," he says.
New class of materials: "Toughness, self-healing and robustness are just some of the initial physical properties that will be found for this new class of materials," Hawker says. "I predict that this approach will lead to the design of even more impressive materials in the near future." Polymer scientist Jian Ping Gong at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, says the work is "beautiful" but points out that the material's mechanical strength falls short of what is possible for plastics and chemically cross-linked gels. Aida says that strengthening the material is as simple as increasing the quantities of clay, sodium polyacrylate and glue, provided transparency is not important.

January 28th, 2010
Window cleaning Eureka Tower
Window cleaner accident
July 9th, 2009
Bridges built from recycled plastic
Engineers with New Jersey-based Axion International Holdings have designed two bridges made of 170,000 pounds of recycled plastic that are capable of supporting the crossing of a 70-ton Army tank. Located in Fort Bragg, N.C., the bridges were less expensive to build than concrete, wooden or steel bridges, said Axion CEO James Kerstein. The company also built the 56-foot-long New Jersey Pine Barrens bridge from plastic. The bridge can bear 36 tons.

July 6th, 2009
Four glass boxes on the observation deck of Chicago's Sears Tower offer unobstructed views ahead, above and below, just one instance of builders and architects doing more with the material. Engineers say they are turning to glass to decrease their dependence on metal and using several strengthening techniques. However, they also note that the long-term reliability of adhesives used to strengthen glass used in construction has not been proven.
July 2nd, 2009
Poor highway design contributes to majority of fatal accidents
Faulty highway design contribute to more than 50% of fatal auto accidents in the U.S., according to a new study. The report recommends widening shoulders and bridges, adding guardrails and fixing crooked roads, among other safety steps.
Highway Design Attorneys
Accidents are not only caused by driver negligence. Sometimes the roadways are unsafe. Governmental entities collect billions of dollars in taxes that are used to create and maintain of our nation’s roadways.
New traffic signal in Japan