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Use of transparent concrete in the world of civil engineering

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Sustainability in civil engineering projects such as the construction of residential buildings, roads and bridges is critical. It helps to minimise the harmful environmental effects of civil construction projects. The use of traditional concrete is popular in most civil engineering projects. Despite the strength of traditional concrete, its dense attribute makes rooms dark especially those within a confined area. Consequently, such buildings end up using a lot of energy for lighting both during the day and night.  The world of civil engineering can adopt the use of transparent concrete in buildings which helps save on overall energy consumption. Read on for more insight.

What is transparent concrete?

Transparent concrete is a combination of fine concrete and optical fibres that run one end of the prefabricated to block to the other. Because of the small size of the optical fibres, they mix perfectly with concrete and end up becoming a component of the concrete block akin to little pieces of aggregate.  The embedded optical fibres are responsible for transmitting light, and because they take up only a small portion of the entire concrete block, they don't affect the structural abilities of the poured concrete. The optical fibres can transmit light across the concrete and make it transparent because of the phenomenon of total internal reflection. The final product is a concrete block that allows light to pass through it while still maintaining all the advantages of traditional concrete.

Application and advantages

Consider the endless list of opportunities that can arise when civil engineers, architects, and builders adopt the use of translucent concrete or light transmitting concrete.

  • Transparent concrete blocks used on front walls of homes can allow homeowners to see when an individual is standing outside.
  • Need to spend light energy on lighting shady parking lots? The use of transparent concrete blocks eliminates that need.
  • Sidewalks built with transparent concrete will benefit from illumination resulting in lit walkways which can enhance safety, besides encouraging foot travel where in the past would be avoided.
  • Speed bumps in driveways and parking lots can be illuminated from underneath thanks to the use of translucent concrete blocks, increasing their visibility and thus preventing accidents.

Increased natural light permeating a residential building or even a work office means reduced electrical lighting during the day, reduced energy consumptions, reduced electricity bills, and reduced energy-linked emissions. Additionally, people who receive sunlight exposure are usually happier and increasingly productive, so offices made from light-transmitting concrete would benefit in terms of employee productivity.