Building with Carbon Fiber

Written by Morgan Kaenzig de Denus, AMAST Content

The construction industry is constantly changing. The introduction of new techniques, materials, and technology has allowed architects, engineers, and builders to push the boundaries and create innovative structures and buildings. In 1853, François Coignet built the world’s first iron-reinforced concrete structure, and in 1855, the Bessemer Method provided an efficient way of creating steel. By the twentieth century, the use of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete in structures exploded in popularity. Today, carbon fiber is on the rise.

What Is Carbon Fiber?

Carbon fiber-reinforced polymers, or CFRPs, can be made from petroleum-based polyacrylonitrile or lignin. Carbon atoms can be bonded with resin using heat, and the resulting composite material is very strong, because the resin transfers loads between the fibers. Polyester, epoxy, and vinyl ester resins are used in the bonding process most often.

What Can It Be Used For?

Bridges

Buildings

The CUBE, or Carbonhaus, signifies an important moment for carbon fiber. This 5-million-euro project is the first building made entirely of carbon fiber-reinforced concrete in the world, and its construction began in the summer of 2020 at the Technical University of Dresden. It is a two-story building that features twenty-four meters of seamless concrete and two parts: the precast box and the twise. The twise is a double-curved roof whose construction was possible thanks to carbon fiber’s lighter weight and increased flexibility.

What Are the Benefits of Building with Carbon Fiber?

High Strength

Low Weight

High Stiffness

Corrosion Resistance and Chemical Stability

Low Thermal Expansion

Lower Cost

What’s Next for Carbon Fiber?

The Autodesk Technology Center in Boston, or Build Space, is currently researching composite carbon-fiber materials as well as various robotic fabrication techniques that will make producing these materials quicker and cheaper. Once carbon fiber’s fabrication is fast and cost-effective, it will likely be used in more projects.

In Augsburg, Germany, Hitexbau developed a highly automated process for producing carbon fiber reinforcements. Their production line allows for the production of large volumes of carbon fiber reinforcements as well as carbon fiber reinforcements with large dimensions.

It’s likely that using carbon fiber in construction will continue to increase in the coming years as manufacturing becomes faster and more affordable.

Citations

Carbon fibre as a recent material use in construction. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2021, from https://www.engineeringcivil.com/carbon-fibre-as-a-recent-material-use-in-construction.html

Carbon fibres production properties and potential use. (2017, June 25). Retrieved April 10, 2021, from https://www.materialsciencejournal.org/vol14no1/carbon-fibres-production-properties-and-potential-use/

Is carbon fiber all it’s cracked up to be? (2019, April 25). Retrieved April 9, 2021, from https://www.architectmagazine.com/practice/is-carbon-fiber-all-it-cracked-up-to-be_o

Gardiner, G. (2020, June 12). Carbon fiber-reinforced concrete accelerates in Germany. Retrieved April 10, 2021, from https://www.compositesworld.com/news/carbon-fiber-reinforced-concrete-accelerates-in-germany

McLoud, D. (2021, September 21). Michigan expands use of carbon fiber as alternative bridge material. Retrieved April 9, 2021, from https://www.equipmentworld.com/better-roads/article/14972567/michigan-expands-use-of-carbon-fiber-as-alternative-bridge-material

Shetty, C. (2019, January 16). Is Carbon Fiber the Future of the Construction Industry? Retrieved April 10, 2021, from https://www.aranca.com/knowledge-library/articles/business-research/is-carbon-fiber-the-future-of-construction-industry

The world’s first building made from carbon fiber reinforced concrete starts construction in Germany. (2020, June 04). Retrieved April 9, 2021, from https://www.bdcnetwork.com/world%E2%80%99s-first-building-made-carbon-fiber-reinforced-concrete-starts-construction-germany

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