Research conducted by the Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology is reported to have developed a new aluminum material named ‘fibre-reinforced aluminum' with augmented strength features that could possibly make it a potential replacement for steel and cement in buildings. The researchers claimed that the new material was 30% stronger than aluminum and lighter and less expensive than steel.
The new product is being made by altering the structure of carbon and aluminum materials at nano-level, allowing them to bond without using glue. A layered combination of the new product with gypsum, foam and other materials is likely to lead to 50% energy savings. The new product reduces the escape of air through gaps in the buildings which in turn may lead to less energy consumption to cool or heat rooms.
The research is being headed by Professor Ben Chan Yui-bun of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. According to him, though the technology is in its early phase now, the newly developed aluminum material has immense potentials to be used in the manufacture of mobile phones, laptop casings, cars and planes, in addition to being used in building construction.
The Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology carries out the research in collaboration with Moscow State University and several other Russian universities. It is being funded by the world's largest aluminum company, UC Rusal.