Advanced Materials for Sustainable Structures

CSIR-SERC has been carrying out R&D in the development of various types of concrete (such as polymer impregnated concrete, concrete using industrial by­products as cement replacement materials, ferrocement, geopolymer concrete). CSIR-SERC has the state-of-the-art facilities and expertise for carrying out both computational- and experimental- studies on the response of evolved materials subjected to various actions (viz., environmental and mechanical) and on understanding the performance of structural elements/systems made of these materials.

Ample scope exists to develop R&D expertise in the design of new and innovative materials using multiscale modelling, nano engineering, optimization techniques, functionally graded materials, etc. It is important to carry out investigations at various length scales (ranging from nano-micro-meso and macro) to understand the properties/responses of materials and structures/components. There is a unique scope to work in interdisciplinary domain (engineering sciences) and contribute to the engineering technology. It will enable to develop materials linking response at various scales using process- structure- property- performance characteristics. This is an area of current research activity world over and provides opportunity to integrate recent developments in science, technology and engineering.

Lightweight and high strength materials such as fibre reinforced plastics as primary structural material, alternate materials such as manufactured sand for greener construction, and, prefabricated- and pre-engineered structures/elements are some of the promising areas for further exploration. There is also a need to develop methodologies for durability-based service life design, characterise the short- and long- term mechanical properties, hysteresis behaviour and evaluation of performance of the developed materials under varying temperatures- and exposure- conditions. This is an area which provides ample opportunities for international collaborations.

As pointed out in ISO 15392, while the challenge of sustainable development is global, the strategies for achieving sustainability in building construction are local and differ in context and content from region to region. This indicates the need to have R&D programs for developing holistic design and maintenance approaches to achieve sustainable infrastructural systems. In order to achieve the cradle to cradle concept, R&D work needs to be carried out specifically in the areas of recycling of materials of construction and use of waste materials in construction.

Without performing a complete analysis of the system life-cycle, claims of sustainability remain unsubstantiated. Also, feedback information regarding the sustainability of selected infrastructure application allows for further optimization. This requires the development of a framework including material design, structural application and sustainability modelling. CSIR-SERC has been carrying out R&D investigations in different areas related to realizing safe and durable buildings and structures. However, in order to realize sustainable structures, more focused R&D investigations need to be carried out in the areas of characterization of sustainability index, selection and engineering of the materials to meet the sustainability demands, performance-based service life design (keeping in view the sustainability index), and new construction technologies to realize sustainable structures.