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Volume 6 2020


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High-Tech Materials form the key to innovative and sustainable technology @4TU_HTM

4TU.HTM Research Programme New Horizons in Designer Materials | Visibility and accessibility of Materials Science & Engineering | Annual symposium Dutch Materials | 4TU.Joint Materials Science Activities | web application


Innovatieve Materialen (Innovative Materials) is a digital, independent magazine about material innovation in the fields of engineering, construction (buildings, infrastructure and industrial) and industrial design.

2 News 16 SDG Award 2020 for sustainability; Wood as high-tech material

Empa researchers have refined wood into a lightweight, shapeable next generation material. On September 1, 2020 the research team from Empa and ETH Zurich led by Ingo Burgert and Tanja Zimmermann, received the SDG1 Award 2020 of the Swiss Green Economy Symposium in Winterthur, Switzerland.

20 Concrete Design Competition 2019-2020 A digital subscribtion in 2020 (6 editions) costs € 39,50 (excl. VAT) Members of KIVI and students: € 25,- (excl. VAT)

A modular element with a sound-absorbing shape and texture, which can be used to create an aesthetic sound barrier by clever stacking: that is Acute Acoustics. This design by David Fritz, Siri Mulleners and Saskia Tideman of TU Delft, was awarded with the first prize of the Concrete Design Competition 2019-2020.

22 Affordable bricks made from plastic waste

SJP Uitgevers

Postbus 861 4200 AW Gorinchem tel. +31 183 66 08 08

Plastic waste can be reused in various ways, even by transforming it to an entire different material. Reuse of plastic waste as building bricks is especially interesting in third world countries. In such territories there’s usually a need for cheap building materials, while at the same time these countries are facing a growing problem of (plastic) waste.

26 Halo: titanium saves lives


Gerard van Nifterik

Advertizing & sponsoring

Drs. Petra Schoonebeek

Innovative Materials platform: Dr. ir. Fred Veer, prof. ir. Rob Nijsse (Glass & Transparency Research Group, TU Delft), dr. Bert van Haastrecht (M2I), prof. Wim Poelman, dr. Ton Hurkmans (MaterialDesign), Jos Brouwers, (Department of the Built Environment, Section Building Physics and Services TU Eindhoven), Jilt Sietsma, (4TU.HTM/ Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering (3mE), Kris Binon (Flam3D), Guido Verhoeven (Bond voor Materialenkennis/SIM Flanders, Prof. dr. ir. Christian Louter Institut für Baukonstruktion Technische Universität Dresden).

On November 29, at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean’s Formula 1 car crashed at 221 km/h into the guardrail, splitting the car in two and turning it into a fireball. The Frenchman was able to climb out of the burning wreckage just in time and afterwards especially thanked the so-called halo for saving his life. The halo consists of a curved titanium bar placed around a driver’s head for protection.

28 AuREUS: Solar panels made from food waste

Engineering student Carvey Ehren Maigue is one of the winners of the James Dyson Awards and the first-ever global sustainability winner for his AuREUS system. With AuREUS waste crops are turned into cladding that can generate clean energy from ultraviolet light.

30 Building wooden cities against carbon emissions

Slowly increasing the use of wood in European construction could increase the carbon storage of buildings by 420 million CO2 tons over the next 20 years. This has been shown by research from Aalto University, Helsinki.

32 3D printer to make stronger, greener concrete

Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a new way to reinforce concrete with a polymer lattice, an advance that improves the concrete’s ductility while reducing the material’s carbon emissions.

34 Pristine graphene from waste plastic

Plastic waste is given a new life as pure graphene. Rice University scientists lab of chemist James Tour have adapted their previously developed ‘flash’ process to efficiently produce high-quality graphene from plastic waste.

38 Algae-Based Flip Flops

Scientists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) developed polyurethane foams, made from algae oil, to meet commercial specifications for midsole shoes and the footbed of flip flops.

Cover: Composite bamboo material for decking (Photo: EMPA) page 19



Honext: construction material of paper industry waste Last November, architecture and design magazine, Dezeen payed attention to Barcelona-based startup Honext. The Spanish company developed a sustainable construction board material made from a combination of enzymes and cellulose taken from the waste streams of paper production. This waste paper material has already gone through several reuse cycles, and the remaining cellulose fibres are too short to be bound together in order for it to be made into paper again. These fibres would typically end up in landfill or be burnt. Honext however, seems to have found a way to turn this waste into a valuable material. The company uses an enzymatic treatment, creating stronger bindings between the short cellulose fibres without having to use non-recyclable resins. First, the waste is analysed, sorted, and classified on its composition to achieve a standard product. When necessary, and based on the quality of the waste, post-consumer cellulose fibres are added. Based on previous research enzymes are selected to process cellulose. Also non-toxic additives are added to the upcycled cellulose fibres after which the matter is compressed and shaped into a wet board. Finally the board is fed through a drying tunnel. After it has dried, any remaining water is evaporated through high airflow and temperature. The result is an natural and always recyclable material with excellent properties, made from cellulosic waste. Unlike similar materials like MDF or drywall, Honext’s cellulose board does not emit any harmful particles. It can be cut, drilled and sanded. The tools and fastening systems used for Honext


are identical to those used for wood. And once the material has reached the end of its life, it is fed back into the production pipeline to create a new set of boards. Honext>


Bio-ink for 3D printed lightweight components Researchers of the University of Freiburg and the Freiburg Materials Research Center have developed a wood-based biopaste, especially for the 3D printing of lightweight components. The State Agency for Lightweight Construction Baden-WĂźrttemberg presented the bio-ink - Woodmimetics3D - November 2020. The material is biobased, fully biodegradable and has a lignin content of up to 50 percent. Since this raw material is a waste product in paper production and currently 98 percent of it is incinerated, this biopast opens an interesting recycling option for the paper industry, the developers said. According to the developers, another economic advantage is that little energy is needed to process the material, because Woodmimetics3D has favorable rheological properties for 3D printing. The material is processed at room temperature. Woodmimetics3D could be interesting for semi-structural and structural applications, for instance because of the low

specific mass of 0.7 kg/m3. The material is therefore lighter than many metals or oil-based polymers and could therefore be a durable alternative in many lightweight construction applications such as consumer goods, automotive and aerospace. The material is not only fully recyclable and lightweight; it also lowers

the CO2 footprint of a product compared to petroleum-based materials. The research team is now looking for industrial partners for potential applications to jointly advance technological development. Leichtbau>



Waste concrete to be repurposed using additive manufacturing

Crushed concrete from demolished buildings will be used to create 3D-printed concrete designs Waste concrete from demolished buildings is to be reinvented and made into new custom-made outdoor memorials and public garden furniture thanks to a new, innovative ÂŁ 6m project using 3D-printing. Currently, around 65 million tonnes of demolition waste enters landfill across North West Europe (NWE) each year, whilst demand on natural resources for the production of new building materials remains high. Concrete production currently requires the extraction of 54 million tonnes of marine sand annually in NWE alone, with the dredging of this sand being unsustainable and causing damage to fragile marine beds and life. But, a new project from Manchester Metropolitan University, and partners across Europe, aims to change this, taking Recycled Fine Aggregates (RFA), which are produced when concrete from demolished buildings is crushed, and using it to create 3D-printed concrete designs. They hope to change this, creating uptake for the material by perfecting a 3D printing cement mortar using RFA, to be used with five new, purpose-built


concrete printers, which will be capable of manufacturing customisable urban, memorial or garden furniture and much more. With the support of the Interreg North West Europe Programme, as part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Manchester Metropolitan University’s 3D additive and digital manufacturing hub, PrintCity, is to lead on the technical work, utilising its expertise in

generative design and circular economy. (PrintCity is an innovative hub of additive and digital manufacturing at Manchester Metropolitan University. However education is at the heart of PrintCity, it offers a range of commercial services to businesses, from research and development, to mould making and small-scale production.) In total, thirteen CIRMAP partners from five countries in NWE will work with

NEWS businesses to define outputs for their concrete manufacturing needs, lobbying for a new market for the reuse of RFA. Currently, concrete cannot easily be recycled for use within the construction industry as materials that make up RFA are so varied, meaning the material does not meet strict building regulations. RFA can also become contaminated during the demolition process, making it difficult to reuse. However, 3D printed products are not subject to the same building restrictions, which is why they could provide a solution for the reuse of RFA. The team will produce five so called urban, memorial and garden furniture (UMG) pieces in the Greater Manchester area to showcase the opportunities that 3D printing with RFA can offer. The pieces will be unveiled in summer 2023 when the project comes to a close. Manchester Metropolitan University>

Gold Sponsors

Last November Betoniek published a article on the recovering of cement from concrete. Concrete rubble can be reused by granulating and packing it as a sand and gravel substitute. With new techniques a very fine fraction, abundant in cement stone, can also be recovered. For this fraction are sustainable and circular applications, ideally as a binding agent in concrete. The question here is: can we use cement or a cement substitute make it? The article is online (Dutch)>

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Apple Central World: glass and wood

Last summer, Apple opened a remarkable Apple store in Thailand. The Apple Central World features a glass structure and a large, cantilevered wooden roof supported by a central pillar. Nestled in the heart of Ratchaprasong, Bangkok, the store consists of a 25-metre diameter, two storey glass cylinder, with conical support and a concave vertical surface that stands on its apex. Apple Central World’s distinctive architecture is brought to life with the first-ever all-glass design, housed under a cantilevered Tree Canopy roof. Once inside, customers can travel between two levels via a spiral staircase that wraps around a timber core, or riding a unique cylindrical elevator clad in mirror-polished stainless steel. Clad in warm timber, the central support is formed of 1,461 European white oak profiles. The oak timber is split into individual lamellas and bonded onto a spruce core for stability. A staircase of stainless steel connects the two floor levels. Each thread is milled from slid blocks of stainless steel. The project is the result of the close collaboration between the team at Apple and architect Foster + Partners, through its local entity F&P (Thailand) Ltd and Architects 49 Ltd. Apple> Foster + Partners>



(Photo: Stefan Verkerk - ProRail)

Dive-under made of dredge stones In the vicinity of Zwolle, KWS is covering a 700-meter-long dive-under with so-called GEOWALL stones, made from recycled dredge. Using a patented technique, developed by NETICS and TNO, construction elements are manufactured by compressing locally available soil and/ or dredged material. The dive-under is part of the reconstruction of the Zwolle railway junction. To make stones from local dredging or soil, first the material is dewatered, mixed with other soil types and with a pozzolanic additive, usually zeolite. When zeolite - an aluminosilicate - comes into contact with water, heat is released. As a result, water evaporates and elements in the sludge are strengthened. The material is then pressed into a block under high pressure in a mold. This creates a stony material that can be used as a construction material. (See Innovative Materials 4 2015). The bricks used in this project are made

from soil from the location of the railway junction. In total, some 65,000 bricks will be installed against the 1.30 meter high walls of the sunken location. The

GEOWALL wall is expected to be ready in early 2021. More at KWS (Dutch)>

(Photo: Stefan Verkerk - ProRail)



(Photo: Roman Keller)

HiLo: doubly curved concrete roof completed On the construction site of the NEST unit ‘HiLo’ an important milestone has been achieved: at the end of October the doubly curved roof shell was finished. NEST is the modular research and innovation building of Empa and Eawag (Switzerland), where new construction technologies and methods are being tested and validated in practice. Like Hilo. Together with partners from industry, ETH researchers have developed completely new construction methods for the complex concrete structure. In NEST, The roof of the ‘HiLo’ unit is a perfect point in case: The doubly curved concrete sandwich construction was not built using conven-


tional formwork but with a textile that was placed on a reusable cable network. The weight of the wet concrete pushed the net into a predefined position and thus ultimately gave the roof its shape. The researchers of ETH Zurich’s Block Research Group developed new design algorithms for planning and calculation. Together with partners from the construction industry, the ETH researchers have now implemented the complex concrete roof for the first time in a real construction project.

the interior work will take place. The unit will be completed next year.

The work on the HiLo construction site is now continuing. In the coming months,

This is how the roof was made Video: Block Research Group, ETH Zurich

More at EMPA>


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The natural station (credits: Welling Architects)

A fully circularly built station Fully circularly built stations in 2050: that is what ProRail, NS Stations and Bureau Spoorbouwmeester stand for together. Via the What-if-Lab: the Circulair Station, the consortium called on designers to draw up a plan. The result: promising circular designs from four Dutch studios.

With this What-if-Lab the parties involved say to have taken a new step in the search for innovative ideas, concepts and designs for circularity at small train stations. This What-if-lab has resulted in three circular designs from four Dutch studios.

They were presented earlier this year during the virtual Dutch Design Week at the end of October.

• The natural station

(Welling Architects en Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven)

• Bioreceptive Stations (Scape Agency)

• Expedition Circulair

(Bygg Architecture & Design)

Perhaps ´Het natuurlijke station´ (The natural station, a project by Welling Architects and Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven) was the most striking in terms of material use. According to the Welling Architects website, the idea behind the project was reversed to design a landscape park where a train station could be hosted. Natural elements will be put to use to create a pleasant atmosphere while efficiently steering the travellers to the


NEWS platforms. Only for those interventions where natural elements cannot comply with the strict norms of a train station, artificial interventions are done making use of natural renewable resources or reuse of existing material. The concept details can be found here> As for the station furnishings, not all components in a station can be replaced by 100% natural elements. Due to strict norms and regulations, artificial intervention is inevitable. For these interventions use of local renewable resources and reuse of existing materials was made - according to the principles of circular construction. Sustainable material innovations as developed by Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven have been applied in some of the station furnishings. The following stations furnishings have been designed:

• Retaining wall - a crib wall construc• • •

• •

tion out of old wooded sleepers; Pedestrian bridge - ‘de Spoorloper’, a circular bridge out of old train track material; Stair - stair treads out of old concrete sleepers; Pavilion - a covered waiting area out of local renewable recourses: rammed earth wall with extruded bench with locally sourced wooden seat and laminated reed panels for back support, cross laminated timber trusses out of local sourced wood (black alder) and a green roof; Seating elements out of shell granulate with locally sourced wooded seating area; Signage objects out of shell granulate and rammed earth.

A striking feature is the use of a number of natural, often locally produced materials. Rammed earth is used for load-bearing walls and balustrades. This material does not require any artificial additives to be suitable as a construction material. Rammed earth is extremely suitable for regulating humidity, and therefore has a particularly good conservative capacity. In addition, the material is completely regenerative. Rammed earth consists of clay sand and

Mussel shell granulate concrete

loam, and can be found in almost any part in The Netherlands. By mixing the raw materials with water, a mouldable mass will start to exist. This mass is poured into a formwork layer by layer and compacted. After air-drying it will gain its load-bearing capacity.

Several seats - informal seating objects are made af shell granulate and laminated local fast growing wood species like common alder (black alder). The musselshells remained in bulk after processing and are a residual material of little value. The consists fort he most part of calcium

Informal seating objects , made af shell granulate concrete and laminated local fast growing wood species like common alder (black alder)



Rammed earth with bulrush fibres

carbonate, which is an excellent building material. When groud into granulate, it can be easily compressed into homogeneous solid material with a sustainable binder. In this project, it is used as a substitute for non structural applications as a replacement for concrete. Even bulrush (or cattail) was used as component of sheet material, blow in insulation, as fibre reinforcement composite materials, but also as reinforcement for clay plaster walls. In the ‘Natural station’-project bulrush was used to reinforce the rammed earth walls. The fibre

Reed panels

Video: the circulair station by ProRail

is also used in biocomposite materials as reinforcement and decorative element. After use, the materials can return to the organic cycle where they again serve

Video: Material research at Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

as nutrients for the next generation of building materials. More at DDW>

Click on this illustration for an interactive 360 ° virtual tour

‘The natural station’ by Welling Architects and studio Joost Veenman (Click on this illustration for an interactive 360 ° virtual tour)



PVC Handblowing Japanese designer Kodai Iwamoto uses glass-blowing techniques to remodel plastic pipes into vases. PVC pipes are easily available at local DIY stores. By applying air pressure into a pipe, which was warmed by a heater to make it soft, the flower vase was born. As with glass blowing, many factors such as the shape of the mould, and the speed of heating

the pipe’s surface, affect the shape of it. The work of Kodai Iwamoto was presented during the Dutch Design Week 2020, 17 to 25 October, which was due to Corona, entirely virtually. DDW>




MAKE IT MATTER MAKE IT MATTER is compiled in collaboration with MaterialDistrict ( In this section new, and/or interesting developments and innovative materials are highlighted.

Mother of pearl These mother of pearl tiles consist of a board with pre-mounted mother of pearl mosaics, designed to not require grouting. Mounted on a fire proof fibre, magnesium or honeycomb board, the tiles and panels offer a convenient and exclusive surface finish.

More at MaterialDistrict>

HPL laminate PRINT HPL is a decorative ultra light laminate panel consisting of layers of cellulose fibers that are impregnated with thermosetting resins and subjected to a high pressure process consisting in the simultaneous application of heat and pressure.

More at MaterialDistrict>

Alucore Alucore is a composite panel consisting of two aluminium cover layers and an aluminium honeycomb core, is a versatile material for applications in the transport and industry sector. It is characterized by its lightweight, high rigidity, optimum flatness, good formability and a wide variety of different thicknesses and formats.

More at MaterialDistrict>


MAKE IT MATTER Timber terrazzo Conor Taylor has invented a new way to repurpose British timber for an original take on traditional terrazzo. Taylor was inspired by seeing extremely high quality wood regularly wasted in enormous quantities during processing. Crafting wood chips with a stone-like feel, making the surface consistent and durable, and optimising the proportion between timber and resin-binder material.

More at MaterialDistrict>

Cocoa The material COCOA_001 is made with 40% waste from industrial chocolate production. All other ingredients are vegan, biodegradable and non harmful to the environment. COCOA_001 can be remoulded several times without material loss with low energy usage and it shows strong potential for 3D-printing.

More at MaterialDistrict>

Scalite Scalite is entirely made from fish scales, a by-product of the fishing industry. Produced in rigid sheets, SCALITE is 100% natural, it contains no chemical additives like formaldehyde. It degrades rapidly in the environment, it is safe for the environment and can be recycled. The material has similar mechanical properties to those of MDF and concrete.

More at MaterialDistrict>

Circula Circula, designed by Polish designer Tomek Rygalik, is a circular bench made of recycled plastic. The plastic used for the bench is made of 100% recycled packaging and was developed in collaboration with Boomplastic, a creative studio dedicated to plastic recycling. The recycled plastic is partly transparent to highlight the colourful fragments within it. The aim was to show the beauty of waste materials.

More at MaterialDistrict>



Empa researchers have refined wood into a lightweight, shapeable next generation material. Paradoxically, wood becomes more stable when it is depleted of lignin, which is responsible for strength in the original material (Image: Empa)

SDG Award 2020 for sustainability

Wood as highperformance material Empa researchers have refined wood into a lightweight, shapeable next generation material. On September 1, 2020 the research team from Empa and ETH Zurich led by Ingo Burgert and Tanja Zimmermann, received the SDG1 Award 2020 of the Swiss Green Economy Symposium in Winterthur, Switzerland. The award recognizes the achievements of the researchers in the field of sustainable building with wood. ‘Burgert and his team are contributing substantially to the fact that in the future solutions and applications will find their way into our lives which will contribute to saving the climate’, the jury said.

As a renewable resource, wood can be used in many different ways. As a building material, however, it has long been sidelined by steel, glass and concrete. The team of researchers has succeeded in developing innovative technologies with which the resource wood can be used as a sustainable alternative and


supplement to other building materials. The researchers’ aim is to make wood a biobased high-performance material and to provide it with new properties. This has led to the development of antimicrobial door handles, mineralized wood with stronger flame resistance or magnetic wooden walls. In addition,

wood could be refined into a lightweight, shapeable next generation material, which becomes more stable if it is stripped of lignin, which is responsible for the strength of the original material. Burgert, who holds a chair at the ETH Zurich, heads the ‘Vision Wood’-unit at the NEST research and innovation building


Empa research has led to the development of antimicrobial door handles, mineralized wood with stronger flame resistance or magnetic wooden walls and more (photo: Empa)

of Empa and Eawag in Dübendorf, where some of these developments are being demonstrated. (NEST is the modular research and innovation building of Empa and Eawag. At NEST, new technologies, materials and systems are tested, researched, further developed and validated under real conditions.)

The wood paradox

Together with Tanja Zimmermann, the current head of Empa’s ‘Functional Materials’ department, Ingo Burgert has already created astonishing wooden objects in the ‘Vision Wood’ unit of the NEST experimental building. This research opens up new possibilities, like significantly improving the mechanical properties of wood and at the same time making it even easier to equip it with new properties. In recent years, Marion Frey, Tobias Keplinger and Ingo Burgert at Empa and ETH Zurich developed a high-performance wood composite that can be deformed as required and is three times stronger than natural wood. This wood material has the potential to become a high tech material. In the process, the researchers remove precisely the part of the wood that gives it its stability in na-

ture: lignin. ‘The Wood Paradox,’ Empa called it, because the scientists destabilized wood to make it more stable.


The key lies in delignification and compaction of the wood. Chemically, wood essentially consists of three components: cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The lignin ensures that the long cellulose fibrils are stabilized and do not bend. The researchers use acid to remove this lignin from the wood and thus remove the natural adhesive. The result: The wood - or rather the remaining white cellulose - can easily be brought into any shape when wet. Between the cells, where lignin once provided stability, water distributes, dissolves the cell connections and ensures deformability. When the delignified wood is dried, the cells interlock, which in turn leads to stable compounds. The material is then additionally compacted by pressing, so that the researchers ultimately end up with a material about three times stiffer and more tensile than natural spruce. Furthermore, adding a water-repellent coating ensures that the interior of the wood can no longer become damp and thus retains its desired shape.

New properties

Besides the deformability, the removal of lignin from wood comes with another effect. It leads to a higher porosity. This is a great advantage for the functionalization of wood. Because there is more space between the cells and in the cell walls, it is easier to introduce other substances into the wood structure that give the modified wood new properties. For example, iron oxide can be inserted into the wood to magnetize it. In their experiments, the researchers were able to show that wood without lignin can be magnetized much better than natural wood - which was previously used in the NEST unit ‘Vision Wood’. 1

SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

Empa> The wood paradox (Empa)> More on Vision Wood on page 18



Vision wood The research and innovation unit Vision Wood stands for the visionary handling of wood as a natural resource in the building industry. The housing unit demonstrates that it is possible to combine the trusty old material with pioneering solutions for ecological construction and attractive design. The unit was developed by the Department of Applied Wood Materials at Empa and in collaboration with ETH Zurich. It combines the latest developments in wood research with expertise in modern wood construction.

Surface coating with nanofibrillated cellulose (Photo: Empa)

Antimicrobial wood surfaces Binder-reduced wood-fibre sheets (Photo: Empa)

Binder-reduced wood-fibre

By using natural enzymes, researchers from Empa have succeeded in producing high-quality wood-fiber insulation plates. Thanks to laccase-catalyzed reactions, the synthetic binding agent (styrene butadiene copolymer) can be replaced fully by sustainable, environmentally friendly biopolymers (lignin compounds, modified starch). Partners: Empa, Pavatex

An enzymatic method patented by Empa enables bacteriostatic iodine in the wood structure to be sequestered without causing any washouts. The result is a wood surface that offers lasting protection from infestations by unwelcome microorganisms and thus increases the hygiene of wooden products significantly in bathrooms or kitchens. Partner: Empa

Surface coating with nanofibrillated cellulose

Nanofibrillated cellulose is used as a component in a novel surface coating for outdoor wood to increase its durability significantly compared to conventional coatings. It is especially expected to improve UV protection, waterproofing, resistance to wear and tear, and the prevention of cracks and microorganism infestations. Partner: Empa Antimicrobial wood surfaces (Photo: Empa)



Mineralized Wood (Photo: Empa)

Mineralized Wood Hydrophobic wood (Photo: Empa)

Hydrophobic wood

In a two-step process, waterproof monomers on the cell walls of the wood structure are polymerized in situ without damaging the wood lumen. This results in a waterproof property right down to the deeper layers while preserving the look of the untreated wood. Partners: Empa, ETH Zurich

Using the methods developed, it is possible to embed minerals deep inside the wooden structure. Their storage can be controlled and takes place either in the cell walls of the wood or in the cell lumen. As a result, the treated wood achieves greater flame resistance, which makes it just the ticket for use in areas where flame-retardant properties are required. Partners: Empa, ETH Zurich, Schilliger Holz Industrie AG, Hess & Co AG, Pavatex

Magnetic wood (Photo: Empa)

Magnetic wood

Composite bamboo material for decking (Photo: Empa)

Composite bamboo material for decking

A new composite material has been produced using bamboo fibers and a bio-based resin. Similar in strength to steel, the material is extremely robust and, thanks to its weather resistance, just the ticket for use outdoors. Moreover, the material boasts a low gross density and thermal expansion. Partners: Empa, ETH Future City Lab

By inserting iron oxide nanoparticles in the wood structure, magnets are able to stick to the wood. Unlike a conventional magnetic material, the hierarchical structure of wood is used to induce direction-dependent magnetic behavior (anisotropy) in the novel hybrid material (wood/metal). Partners: Empa, ETH Zurich Empa: Vision Wood> Publications Vision Wood>



Velvet Concrete, an idea by Michiel Derikx and Koen van Dijk of the Eindhoven University of Technology

Concrete Design Competition 2019-2020 A modular element with a sound-absorbing shape and texture, which can be used to create an aesthetic sound barrier by clever stacking: that is Acute Acoustics. This design by David Fritz, Siri Mulleners and Saskia Tideman of TU Delft, was awarded with the first of the Concrete Design Competition 2019-2020. The theme of the competition was FORM-WORKS. Students were asked to explore the properties of concrete related to giving shape and/or texture to concrete for their project. 36 entrants were judged by a professional jury and on November 26, the winners were announced during a break-out session at the online Dutch BetonEvent.


Acute Acoustics

The first prize was won by Acute Acoustics, an idea by David Fritz, Siri Mulleners and Saskia Tideman of TU Delft. They invented a modular element with a sound-absorbing shape and texture that can be used to create an aesthetic sound barrier through smart stacking. They developed a mould with which an element with all-sided formwork surfaces is possible.

The jury appreciated the fact that the students had researched shapes that influence sound and thus shaped their module. According to the jury, the theme of FORM-WORKS was well fulfilled in this project: both in the choice of the shape of the module itself, the aesthetic whole of the wall and the technical elaboration of the mould. More about Acute Acoustics> Saskia Tideman>

INNOVATIVE MATERIALS 6 2020 Velvet Concrete

The second prize was won by Velvet Concrete, an idea by Michiel Derikx and Koen van Dijk of the Eindhoven University of Technology. They experimented with textile molds and discovered that a mold made of leather resulted in a velvet like structure. By fixing the edges, each panel connects seamlessly; because the leather folds differently in between each time, a different shape is created each time. More about Velvet Concrete>

Multi Faรงade Acute Acoustics

Multi Faรงade, a design by Clara Beckers, Jemina Gar Man Lai and Hannah Jade Zhu from TU Delft, was awarded with the third prize. This green facade is supplied with water, which trickles down from the roof through the porous concrete structure to the plants that grow in recesses with substrate. More about Multi Facade>


Multi Faรงade

In addition to the three prize winners, the jury also chose an honorable mention, which fell just outside the prizes. The Chainlink design by Kyra Heijblom and Rick Wassenaar of the Eindhoven University of Technology was appreciated by the jury for its unexpectedly slim and unusual curved shape. It is a semi-circular arch of concrete in which much attention was paid to the design of the mould. More about Chain Link>

Credits: Tektoniek (Dutch)> The International Concrete Design Competition for architecture and civil engineering students is a biennial ideas and design competition. The competition is organized by a consortium of European sector organizations of Cement and Concrete. In the Netherlands, the competition is organized by Betonhuis | Cement from Tektoniek University. Students studying in one of the participating countries can participate in this competition.




Floor tiles Gjenge Makers tegels Kenya (Photo: Gjenge Makers Ltd.)

Affordable bricks made from plastic waste Plastic waste can be reused in various ways, even by transforming it to an entire different material. Earlier this year for instance CeramicTech Today paid attention to Kenyan startup Gjenge Makers Ltd. that uses waste plastic and sand to make building blocks. Reuse of plastic waste as building bricks is especially interesting in third world countries. In such territories there’s usually a need for cheap building materials, while at the same time these countries are facing a growing problem of (plastic) waste. Some examples of remarkable use of wate plastics in Third World construction. Several emerging and developing countries in recent years have established local enterprises to produce plastic-based bricks to not only clean the environment but also provide affordable alternative building materials and create job opportunities for people. A good example is Gjenge Makers Ltd.


in Kenya. A few years ago, the startup started experimenting with the production of plastic bricks. Early 2019 the company started building the machines they would need to recycle plastic waste into bricks, and this year they officially launched the production market. The process developed by Gjenge Makers

starts with collecting and sorting the plastic waste. After that, the plastic material is ground and mixed with sand. Often a pigment is added, after which a homogeneous mixture is made. In an extruder the material is blended at a high temperature to a slightly viscous mass. This mass is compacted in a hydraulic

INNOVATIVE MATERIALS 6 2020 press and takes its final shape. Finally, the stones are cooled in a water bath. The current production line of Gjenge Makers produces between 500 and 1000 stones per day, in different colours and shapes if desired.

Video (YouTube)

Gjenge Makers Ltd: extruder

Gjenge Makers Ltd: hydraulische pers

Silica-plastic block

Last summer reported on India-based company, Rhino Machines. The company launched the so-called ‘silica-plastic block’ - a sustainable building brick made from recycling foundry dust/ sand waste (80%) and mixed plastic waste (20%). The project was completed in collaboration with r+d labs; the research wing of the architectural firm r+d studio. The process is very similar to that of Gjenge Makers. By using plastic as a bonding agent, the need for water during mixing and thereafter curing is completely eliminated. the blocks can be directly used after cooling down from

Silica Plastic Blocks: Rhino Machines


INNOVATIVE MATERIALS 6 2020 moulding process. The SPBs were found to have 2.5 times the strength of normal red clay bricks.

Conceptos Plásticos

Unlike Gjenge Makers an Rhino Machines, Colombian Conceptos Plásticos, makes its bricks from 100% plastic . The plastic waste Conceptos Plásticos recycles is melted and poured into a mould to produce plastic blocks that work like Lego pieces, allowing whole communities and families to play a part in the easy constructing of their own homes. The materials contain additives that makes them resistant to fire and because the structure is plastic-based, it is earthquake resistant. A house for one family (40 m2 house divided into two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining room and kitchen), takes four people, with no construction experience, just five days to build at relatively low costs. According to the company the construction system is 30% cheaper than traditional systems in rural areas.

Conceptos Plásticos

Conceptos Plásticos claims to generate a strong social impact by helping to build homes and shelters for families, an environmental impact by preventing plastic from going to landfills, reducing water and energy consumption, and also reducing CO2 emissions by using recycled materials. The designs of the building elements, based on recycled materials, allows anyone to build quickly, efficiently and cheaply. Customers are the government, NGOs, Foundations and Private companies, that pay for the housing solution for the communities that Conceptos Plásticos assists. (Innovative Materials 4 2016).

The best civil engineering vacancies? Go to 24 | INNOVATIVE MATERIALS 6 2020


Voeg informatie toe aan de Kennisbank Biobased Bouwen De Biobased Economy speelt een belangrijke rol in de duurzame ontwikkeling van Nederland en biedt nieuwe kansen voor het bedrijfsleven. Via de kennisbank kunt u kennis vergaren en delen over de beschikbaarheid en toepassingsmogelijkheden van biobased materialen, producten en bouwconcepten. Samen versterken we zo de biobased economie. Ruim dertig partijen in de bouwsector ondertekenden de green deal biobased bouwen. Deze producenten, architecten, adviseurs en kennisinstellingen delen hun kennis rond kansrijke mogelijkheden van biobased bouwen. Ook de ministeries van Binnenlandse Zaken (Wonen en Rijksdienst), Economische Zaken, en Infrastructuur en Milieu ondersteunen de green deal. Bouw ook mee aan de biobased economie en voeg uw project- of productbeschrijvingen toe aan deze kennisbank. Kijk op voor meer informatie>

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On November 29 at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean’s Formula 1 car crashed and turned into a fira ball. A few seconds after the above shot was taken, the Frenchman got out of the car unharmed (YouTube)

Halo: titanium saves lives On November 29, at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean’s Formula 1 car crashed at 221 km/h into the guardrail, splitting the car in two and turning it into a fireball. The Frenchman was able to climb out of the burning wreckage just in time and afterwards especially thanked the so-called halo for saving his life. The halo is a crash protection system for drivers that has been used in racing for several years. It consists of a curved titanium bar placed around a driver’s head for protection. A few years ago, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) started research into making racing cars safer. This eventually led to the development of the so-called halo, a safety construction for racing cars. During the study of the last case it was found that the halo was able to deflect large objects and provide greater protection against smaller debris. The first tests of the halo were carried out in 2016 and in July 2017. Since the 2018 season the FIA has made the halo mandatory on every vehicle in Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula E and also Formula 4 (starting by 2021) as a new safety measure. In a simulation performed by the FIA,


Halo, front view (Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team)


Halo (Photo: CP Tech)

using the data of 40 real incidents, the use of the system led to a 17% theoretical increase in the survival rate of the driver. The halo is a 3-legged curved bar that places in front of a driver’s cockpit. It’s made out of high strength titanium, and the weight of this device is roughly 9 kilograms. The primary function of this device is to protect the head of the drivers. The system is not developed by the teams, but is manufactured by three ap-

proved external manufacturers chosen by the FIA and has the same specification for all vehicles. One of these official suppliers of the new halo is CP Tech in Büren, Germany. The company generally receives forged blocks that have been pre-treated to an individual specification to help withstand the loads that the final device will face. First the titanium must be heat-treated to be optimised for the task. The next step is to pre-machine and gun-drill the tubes that will be welded together. The halo itself is built from five

different parts. The half ring at the top is made from two quarters of the circle. Then there are the two end pieces that attach to the back of the car and the centre pillar in front of the driver. The welding process is performed in a closed chamber to prevent any foreign objects from interfering with the material. The whole device then undergoes further heat treatment for additional strengthening before it is sent for testing. Only the so-called reference production device is tested to destruction. Each subsequent device is made from an exact process sheet that is approved by the Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety, the FIA’s safety research partner. But every device is geometry-checked, weight-checked and undergoes non-destructive testing, including x-rays and crack tests. Once complete, the halo is manually shot-cleaned to create an abrasive surface that makes it easier for teams to attach any aerodynamic parts that are permitted by the FIA. All of these steps are essential for producing such a high-performance device. The halo has to withstand 125 kN of force (equivalent to 12 tonnes in weight) from above for five seconds without a failure to any part of the survival cell or the mountings. FIA: how to make an halo>

Video Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

The halo system on a Ferrari SF71H driven by Kimi Räikkönen during pre-season testing in February 2018 (Photo by Artes Max)

Video: Halotest (FIA)



(Photo: The James Dyson Foundation)

AuREUS: Solar panels made from food waste Engineering student Carvey Ehren Maigue is one of the winners of the James Dyson Awards and the first-ever global sustainability winner for his AuREUS system. With AuREUS waste crops are turned into cladding that can generate clean energy from ultraviolet light. The James Dyson Award is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers. It’s open to current and recent design engineering students, and is run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to get young people excited about design engineering.

Unlike traditional solar panels, which only work in clear conditions and must face the sun directly because they rely on visible light, the translucent AuREUS material is able to harvest power from invisible UV rays that pass through clouds. As a result, it is able to produce


energy close to 50 per cent of the time according to preliminary testing, compared to 15 to 22 per cent in standard solar panels.

Waste agricultural crops

The inspiration for AuREUS came from

how Auroras were made. High energy radiation (gamma, UV) is degraded to low energy state (visible light) by luminescent particles in the atmosphere. The tech is based on this concept and used similar functioning particles. Similar type of luminescent particles (derivable

INNOVATIVE MATERIALS 6 2020 side. AuREUS absorbs UV light instead, protecting people both indoors and outdoors. An last but not least: AuREUS upcycles fruit and vegetable scraps giving life to materials considered as trash. In future, additional research will be done on extracting needed luminescent particles to allow 100% (from the current 80%) sourcing of dyes from fruits and vegetables instead of chemical ones. Currently, among the five colors used (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue) a stable alternative to the blue dye has not been successfully made yet. Success in this

(Photo: The James Dyson Foundation)

from certain fruits and vegetables) were suspended in a resin substrate and is used as the core technology on both devices. When hit by UV light, the particles absorb and re-emit visible light along the edges due to internal reflectance. PV cells are placed along the edges to capture the visible light emitted. The captured visible light are then converted to DC electricity. Regulating circuits will process the voltage output to allow battery charging, storage, or direct utilization of electricity. Maigue’s system uses luminescent particles derived from waste agricultural crops. To pull out the bioluminescent particles from specific fruits and vegetables, Maigue goes through a process of crushing them and extracting their juices, which are then filtered, distilled or steeped. The particles are suspended in resin before the resulting substrate is moulded into cladding and clamped onto walls or sandwiched between the two panes of a double glazed window.

area will bring sustainability to a full circle. Furthermore, Maigue plans to turn the AuREUS substrate into threads to form fabrics and curved plates to be attached to vehicles and aircrafts. The Sustainability Award is a new addition to the annual James Dyson Awards, equal to the competition’s top prize. This year’s international winner was Spanish engineer Judit Giró Benet. She developed the so-called ‘Blue box’, a biomedical device for pain-free, non-irradiating, non-invasive, low-cost and inhome breast cancer testing. Both she and Maigue take home £30,000 to fund the further development of their projects. The James Dyson Award>

Protecting against UV

AuREUS can function even when not directly facing the sun, it can rely on UV scattering through clouds and by UV light bouncing along walls, pavements, other buildings. This will enable the construction of a Vertical Solar Farm even with a small lot area. This is highly applicable for skyscrapers in urban settings allowing access to clean renewable electricity. Glass cladding used in buildings use special films that reflect UV away from the building. This causes induced UV exposure to people out-




The Aikalava pavillion was build to celebrate Finland’s 100th birthday (Photo: Vesa Loikas)

Building wooden cities against carbon emissions Buildings create a whopping one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions - that’s about ten times more than air traffic worldwide. In Europe alone about 190 million square metres of housing space are built each year, mainly in the cities, and the amount is growing quickly at the rate of nearly one percent a year. Slowly increasing the use of wood in European construction could increase the carbon storage of buildings by 420 million CO2 tons over the next 20 years. This has been shown by research from Aalto University, Helsinki. A recent study by researchers at Aalto University and the Finnish Environment Institute shows that shifting to wood as a building construction material would significantly reduce the environmental


impact of building construction. The results show that if 80 percent of new residential buildings in Europe were made of wood, and wood were used in the structures, cladding, surfaces, and

furnishings of houses, all together the buildings would store 55 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. That’s equivalent to about 47 percent of the annual emissions of Europe’s cement industry.


Aalto University’s Luukku House was designed to have a nearly zero carbon footprint (Photo by Anne Kinnunen)

According to the Aalto researchers, this is the first time that the carbon storage potential of wooden building construction has been evaluated on the European level, in different scenarios. The study is based on an extensive analysis of the literature. Drawing on 50 case studies, the researchers divided buildings into three groups according to how much wood they use - and, as a consequence, how much carbon dioxide they store. The group with the least amount of wood stored 100 kg of carbon dioxide per square metre, the middle group stored 200 kg, and the group with the greatest amount of wood stored 300 kg per square metre (CO2 kg/m2). The potential carbon storage capacity was not generally related to building or wood type, or even its size; rather, capacity is based on the number and volume of wood used as building components, from beams and columns to walls and finishings.

a shift to wooden buildings that store even more carbon dioxide, with more buildings falling into the 200 CO2 kg/m2 storage group, and eventually the 300 CO2 kg/m2-storage group. Building wooden houses is also a sustainable way of using wood. In terms of wood products, a wooden building provides longer-term storage for carbon than pulp or paper. According to the study findings, a wooden building of 100

m2 has the potential to store 10 to 30 tons of carbon dioxide. The upper range corresponds to an average motorist’s carbon dioxide emissions over ten years. Aalto University> The article ‘Cities as carbon sinks-classification of wooden buildings’ is online>

The researchers also looked at how Europe could achieve the tremendous CO2-emission reduction by 2040. If say, in 2020, 10 percent of new residential buildings were made of wood each storing 100 CO2 kg/m2, the share of wood-built buildings would need to grow steadily to 80 percent by 2040. At the same time the scenario demands



Berkeley researchers used a 3D printer to create polymer lattice reinforced beams. Special camera equipment shows that, when tested under bending, the beams are highly flexible and most of the cracks are blunted by the lattice

3D printer to make stronger, greener concrete Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a new way to reinforce concrete with a polymer lattice, an advance that improves the concrete’s ductility while reducing the material’s carbon emissions. The Berkeley team used a 3D printer to build octet lattices out of polymer, and then filled them with ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC), which is four times stronger than conventional concrete in compression. The technique was reported in the November issue of the journal Materials and Design. As a construction material, concrete is cheap, abundant and strong in compression, capable of withstanding immensely heavy loads. But concrete is notoriously weak in tension, or flexure. It is brittle and will begin to crack when pulled apart. Without reinforcement, a concrete structure could experience catastrophic


failure and shatter without warning. Since the mid-19th century, engineers have reinforced concrete with steel rebar. But steel’s strength comes with some downsides: it is heavy, relatively expensive to produce, labor-intensive to install and degrades over time. Today, there’s a growing community of engineers exploring the potential to

RESEARCH were able to absorb a lot of energy. The engineers also experimented with the amount of lattice reinforcements used in the concrete. One sample was thinner, with the polymer making up 19.2% of a sample’s volume. The other made up 33.7%. While increasing the amount of polymer in the samples slightly decreased their compressive strength, it increased their peak loads. Importantly, the amount of polymer didn’t significantly change the structure’s overall mechanical properties. The samples with less polymer were just as tough as those with more. But there are some instances where more polymer might have significant benefits. Manufacturing cement, the main ingredient in concrete, produces 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Reinforcement material makes up less than 5% of most concrete structures. So, increasing the amount of polymer - and reducing the amount of concrete - could cut down on a structure’s overall carbon emissions.> Researchers 3D printed a set of octet lattices at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

The article ‘Polymer lattice-reinforcement for enhancing ductility of concrete’ is online>

reinforce concrete with polymers, which are appealing to researchers because they are lightweight, don’t corrode and, could be cheap to produce.

Polymer lattice

Since the 1960s, engineers have reinforced concrete with polymer fibers. The concept isn’t new. Fibers have been used to reinforce mortar since ancient times for instance by adding straw to adobe bricks. But they’re not a perfect solution. Fibers are mixed into concrete before it is poured and are rarely homogeneously distributed. This means one part of a structure might have a high concentration of fibers, while another has barely any, leaving a path for cracks to form. The benefit of a lattice reinforcement is that a series of trusses stops cracks before they grow too large. Previous experiments of polymer lattice reinforcements pulled inspiration from the natural world, including the inner portion of abalone shells and the honeycomb shape of beehives. But those reinforcements were two-dimensional, which limited their ability to support complex concrete designs. To produce a 3D design that could support heavy loads from all directions - what engineers call isotropic - the Berkeley researchers used the octet truss for the lattice structure. Popularized by the architect Buckminster Fuller in the 1950s, the octet truss is known for its ability to be both strong and incredibly light. The team tested two different polymers: polylactic acid (PLA), which is easy to 3D print but more brittle than other polymers, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), which is tougher than PLA. Switching from PLA to ABS made no significant difference in compressive tests; all of the lattice-reinforced concrete samples scored high in strain density values, meaning they

To create composite beams, the researchers poured ultra-high-performance concrete around the lattices (Photos: Berkeley)



Flash graphene made from plastic by a Rice University lab begins as post-consumer plastic received from a recycler. It is then mixed with carbon black and processed into turbostratic graphene via timed pulses of AC and DC electricity (Courtesy of the Tour Group)

Pristine graphene from waste plastic Plastic waste is given a new life as pure graphene. Rice University scientists lab of chemist James Tour have adapted their previously developed ‘flash’ process to efficiently produce high-quality graphene from plastic waste. The lab’s study appeared in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano in late October.

Flash graphene is a new process introduced by the Rice University lab of chemist James Tour. It was introduced earlier this year. It can turn bulk quantities of just about any carbon source into valuable graphene flakes. The process is quick and cheap. According to Tour the ‘flash graphene’ technique can convert a ton of


coal, waste food or plastic into graphene for a fraction of the cost used by other bulk graphene-producing methods. Instead of raising the temperature of a carbon source with direct current, as in the original process, the lab first exposes plastic waste to around eight seconds of high-intensity alternating current, follo-

wed by the DC jolt. The products are high-quality, turbostratic (multi-layered) graphene, a valuable and soluble substance that can be used to enhance electronics, composites, concrete and other materials, and carbon oligomers, for use in all kinds of applications. The scientists estimated that at


Video 1: the process

industrial scale, the ACDC process could produce graphene for about $125 in electricity costs per ton of plastic waste. In the original paper it was shown that plastic could be converted, but the quality of the graphene wasn’t as good as the researchers wanted it to be. Now, by using a different sequence of electrical pulses, a big difference could

be observed. Graphene is a two-dimensional material composed of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged on a grid with a hexagonal (honeycomb) structure. Graphene is more than 200 times stronger than steel, an excellent thermal and electrical conductor, flexible, very thin and transparent. This makes it potentially suitable for a wide variety

Video 2: how it works

of applications. The most frequently mentioned potential application of graphene is in electronics. For example,

In a flash, carbon black turns into graphene through a technique developed by Rice University scientists. The scalable process promises to quickly turn carbon from any source into bulk graphene. From left: undergraduate intern Christina Crassas, chemist James Tour and graduate students Paul Advincula and Duy Luong (Photo: Jeff Fitlow)


RESEARCH ne, the concrete would become much stronger, so that much less of the material is needed. According to the researchers the flash process eliminates much of the expense associated with recycling plastic, including sorting and cleaning that require energy and water. ‘Rather than recycling plastic into pellets that sell for $2,000 a ton, you could be upcycling to graphene, which has a much higher value,’ James Tour said on the Rice-website. ‘There’s an economic as well as an environmental incentive.’

More at Rice University>

Flash grafeen A transmission electron microscope image shows ACDC flash graphene produced at Rice University. The process promises to produce high-quality turbostratic graphene from plastic waste that can be used to enhance electronics, composites, concrete and other materials (Courtesy of the Tour Group)

it could possibly replace silicon in transistors. The combination of transparency and conductivity would also make it a suitable material for making touchscreens. Graphene can be used in air purification - probably even in corona filters (Innovative Materials nr. 4 2020) - and also in water purification there are opportunities. By manipulating graphene to create holes the size of water molecules, it would be possible to filter salt from water. This would be a much more economical method than the current desalination techniques, which consume a lot of energy. Other potential applications include intelligent or ultra-strong textiles, medicine, and construction. According to researcher James Tour, by mixing concrete with a small amount of graphe-

As reported in Nature, January 2020, flash graphene is made in 10 milliseconds by heating carbon-containing materials to 3,000 Kelvin. The source material can be nearly anything with carbon content. Waste food, plastic waste, petroleum coke, coal, wood clippings and biochar are prime candidates, Tour said. With the present commercial price of graphene being $67,000 to $200,000 per ton, the prospects for this process look superb,’ he said.Tour said a concentration of as little as 0.1% of flash graphene in the cement used to bind concrete could lessen its massive environmental impact by a third. Production of cement reportedly emits as much as 8% of human-made carbon dioxide every year. The article (Nature) ‘Gram-scale bottom-up flash graphene synthesis ‘ is online>

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3D printed microboat Scientists at Leiden University have succeeded in 3D printing a synthetic, miniscule boat: from bow to stern it measures 30 micrometers, about a third the thickness of a hair. It is 3D printed by Leiden physicists Rachel Doherty, Daniela Kraft and colleagues. The result of their research was published in the journal Soft Matter under the title ‘Catalytically propelled 3D printed colloidal microswimmers.’


The microboat doesn’t have a propellor. 3DBenchy is a standard 3D design for testing 3D-printers. The group’s new Nanoscribe Photonic Professional printer has passed this test with flying colors, while establishing a new record building

the smallest ship on Earth (which is even able to set sail in water). ‘Catalytically propelled 3D printed colloidal microswimmers’, Soft Matter, 2020. The article is online> Universiteit Leiden>

Kraft’s research group researches microswimmers, small particles moving in fluids like water, that can be followed using a microscope. One of their goals is understanding biological microswimmers, such as bacteria. Most research of this type is carried out on sphere shaped particles, but 3D printing offers new possibilities, as the researchers show in this article. They also printed spiral shaped particles, which rotate along while they are propelled through water. SEM images of various 3D printed particle shapes as obtained by two-photon polymerisation. (a) A spiky sphere, (b) a starship, (c) a spiral, (d) a helix, (e) a trimer and (f) 3D benchy boat



(Photo: Stephen Mayfield, UC San Diego)

Algae-Based Flip Flops Scientists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) developed polyurethane foams, made from algae oil, to meet commercial specifications for midsole shoes and the footbed of flip flops. The results of their study are published in Bioresource Technology Reports and describe the team’s successful development of these sustainable, consumer-ready and biodegradable materials. Polyurethane foams made from algae oil were developed to meet commercial specifications for midsole shoes and the footbed of flip flops. The foams were tested by immersing them in traditional compost and soil - the materials degraded after just sixteen weeks. During the decomposition period, to account for any toxicity, scientists measured every molecule shed from the biodegradable materials and identified the organisms that degraded the foams. The enzymes from the organisms degrading the foams were shown to depolymerize the polyurethane products. The team then identified the intermediate steps that take place in the process. The depolymerized products were isolated and used to synthesize new polyurethane monomers, completing a ‘bioloop.’


The sustainable, consumer-ready, biodegradable materials are 52 percent bio-content, but the scientists are working towards 100 percent. The flip flops will be available in January

2021 in a range of fashionable colours and designs. The research was a collaboration between UC San Diego and startup company Algenesis Materials - a materials

RESEARCH science and technology company. The project was co-led by graduate student Natasha Gunawan (Division of Physical Sciences) and Stephen Mayfield (Division of Biological Sciences), and by Marissa Tessman from Algenesis. Algenesis is a material science and technology company specialized in the patented Soleic technology which is according tot Algenesis - the world’s first high performance, renewable, and fully biodegradable plastic material made from algae. The article ‘Rapid biodegradation of renewable polyurethane foams with identification of associated microorganisms and decomposition products’, is online> More at UC San Diego>

(Photo: Stephen Mayfield, UC San Diego)



Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) supports companies with international ambitions The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is an initiative of the European Commission that supports entrepreneurs in seeking partners to innovate and do business abroad. The Network is active in more than 60 countries worldwide. It brings together 3,000 experts from more than 600 member organisations – all renowned for their excellence in business support.


Every company can participate by adjusting its profile to the database. This company will be brought to the attention in the country in which it wants to become active. At the same time it is possible to search for partners. EEN advisers actively assist in compiling the profile, which is drawn up in a certain format. The EEN websites also contain foreign companies that are looking for Dutch companies and organizations for commercial or technological cooperation. The EEN advisers support the search for a cooperation partner by actively deploying contacts within the network. In addition, Company Missions

and Match Making Events are regularly organized. All these services are free of charge. There are five types of profiles:

• Business Offer:

the company offers a product

Video: How Enterprise Europe Network works

• Business Request:

the company is looking for a product

• Technology Offer:

the company offers a technology

• Technology Request:

the company is looking for a technology

• Research & Development Request:

the organization seeks cooperation for research

When a company has both a Business Offer and a Business Request (or another combination), two (or even more if applicable) profiles are created. The profile includes the most essential

information about the nature of the supply or demand, the ‘type of partner’ that is intended and the expected cooperation structure. Get in touch with your local network contact point by selecting the country and city closest to where your business is based. They can help you with advice, support and opportunities for international partnerships. For sustainable building and the creative industry, contact ir. drs. Hans Kamphuis: T: +31 (0) 88 042 1124 M: 06 25 70 82 76 E: For Materials contact Nils Haarmans: T: +31 (0) 88 062 5843 M: 06 21 83 94 57 More information websites can be found at the Europe Network websites:


CONTENT The corona crisis makes it uncertain whether events will actually take place on the scheduled date. Many events are postponed or online. The Agenda below shows the state of affairs as of December 2020. For recent updates: BAU 2021 13 - 15 January 2021, Munich

Lijmen België 6 April 2021, KU Leuven Campus Brugge

2nd International Conference on Cellulose Fibres 2 - 3 February 2021, Cologne

Hannover Messe 12 - 16 April 2021, Hannover

NGA glass conference 2021, 9 February 2021, online

Steinexpo 2021, 14 - 17 April 2021, Homberg

Ulmer Betontage 2021 23 - 25 February 2021, Ulm

Nordbygg 2021 20 - 23 April 2021, Stockholm

Maintenance Dortmund 2021 24 - 25 February 2021

Nederlandse Metaaldagen 21 - 23 April 2021, Den Bosch

JEC World 2021 9 - 11 March 2021, Paris

ICC8 2021 25 - 30 April 2021, Busan

EuroBLECH 2021, 9 - 12 March 2021, Hannover

Partec 2021 26 - 28 April 2021, Nürnburg

Additive Manufacturing Forum 2021 11 - 12 March 2021, Berlin

23th Wear Of Materials conference 26 - 28 April 2021, Online

Solids 2021 17 - 18 March 2021, Dortmund

Ceramic Expo 2020 USA 3 - 5 May 2021, Cleveland

9th Conference on CO2-based Fuels and Chemicals 23 - 24 March 2021, Cologne

Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D, 4 - 6 May 2021, Erfurt

Metav reloaded 2021 23 - 26 March 2021, Düsseldorf

VETECO 2021 4 - 7 May 2021, Feria de Madrid


Innovative Materials, the international version of the Dutch magazine Innovatieve Materialen, is now available in English. Innovative Materials is an interactive, digital magazine about new and/or innovatively applied materials. Innovative Materials provides information on material innovations, or innovative use of materials. The idea is that the ever increasing demands lead to a constant search for better and safer products as well as material and energy savings. Enabling these innovations is crucial, not only to be competitive but also to meet the challenges of enhancing and protecting the environment, like durability, C2C and carbon footprint. By opting for smart, sustainable and innovative materials constructors, engineers and designers obtain more opportunities to distinguish themselves. As a platform Innovative Materials wants to help to achieve this by connecting supply and demand. Innovative Materials is distributed among its own subscribers/network, but also through the networks of the partners. In 2019 this includes organisations like M2i, MaterialDesign, 4TU (a cooperation between the four Technical Universities in the Netherlands), the Bond voor Materialenkennis (material sciences), SIM Flanders, FLAM3D, RVO and Material District.

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