Using Nanotechnology in Civil Engineering

Using Nanotechnology in Civil Engineering

Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale.

Nanotechnology is the science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers.

1 nm = 1 x 10-9 m

Nanotechnology has many uses in civil engineering. Let’s get into the details.

Application in concrete

Adding nanoscale materials into cement could help improve its performance. In detail, the use of nano-SiO2 increases the surface area and reduces the pores, giving a stronger mix of concrete. Therefore, the dispersion/slurry of amorphous nanosilica helps to improve segregation resistance for self-compacting concrete. Reports show that adding a small amount of carbon nanotubes (1%) by weight could increase both compressive and flexural strength.

Application in steel

Steel is both the most widely used and the most recycled metal material on earth. Consequently, the majority of it goes to the construction industry. Its properties, such as strength, corrosion resistance, and weldability, are very important when it comes to construction. Moreover, it’s possible to develop new, low carbon, high performance steel (HPS). Specifically, by incorporating copper nanoparticles the new steel will have higher corrosion resistance and improved weldability.


Nanoparticles or nanolayers are added in the coating process. This is one of the major applications of nanotechnology in construction. For example, engineers use TiO2 to coat stainless steel because of its strelising and anti-fouling properties. In addition to, the TiO2 will break down and disintegrate organic dirt through powerful catalytic reaction. Furthermore, it’s hydrophilic, which allows the water to spread evenly over the surface and wash away dirt that has been previously broken down. Other special coatings also exist, such as energy sawing, thermal control, anti-reflecting and anti-graffiti coating.


Sensors monitor and control the environment condition and the performance of the materials and structure. One advantage of these sensors is their dimensions, which is 10 -9 m to 10-5 m. The sensors go into the structure during the construction process. Smart aggregate, a low cost piezocermanic-based multi-functional device, monitors early age concrete properties. These include moisture, temperature, relative humidity and strength development. The sensors are also capable of monitoring concrete corrosion and cracking. Another benefit to the smart aggregate is that it can monitor stresses, cracks, and other physical forces on the structure during its life. It’s capable of providing an early indication of the structure’s health before a failure of the structure can occur.

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog post about using nanotechnology in civil engineering. Do you want to study abroad in Spain? Take a look at our Civil engineering study programme and feel free to talk to our counsellor for more information.