Graphene: What you need to know
Graphene. Never heard of it? We hadn’t either! But apparently, this substance which was discovered in the U.K. in 2004 is about to revolutionize smart home building (among a host of other things).
So, What Is It?
In short, graphene is a material made from sheets of carbon in a honeycomb pattern. It forms a nearly transparent, flexible sheet the thickness of about one atom (to put it in perspective, it would take hundreds of thousands of atoms to form the diameter of a human hair). Graphene is now considered to be the strongest known substance – 200 times stronger than steel, while six times lighter. This eco-friendly and sustainable material also conducts electrical and thermal energy.
Graphene and Construction
While concrete and steel are the most common building materials, they both produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Incorporating graphene into building materials creates stronger building materials with the added bonus of lowering these harmful emissions. Graphene-coated steel products are in development that would significantly reduce water and chemical damage to steel.
Graphene also improves the appearance of concrete. Its impermeability prevents dirt from collecting on its surfaces, eliminating dark and stained concrete facades.
Graphene and Smart Homes
Now for the fun stuff – smart homes! Graphene sheets can be embedded in wallpaper and window panes, absorbing excess light and heat from both inside and outside a residence and converting it to electricity. Imagine energy-efficient glowing walls which would provide a pleasant, adjustable light. No more light bulbs!
Graphene paint can indicate underlying structural problems in a home. Researchers have created a graphene paint coating that indicates a home’s unseen breaks and fractures by changing color.
Transparent graphene solar cells can turn nearly any surface into a source of electric power. Homeowners can use graphene technology to turn just about anything (a garage door, window or roof) into a solar energy source, without the addition of unsightly solar panels.
The Bottom Line
These are just a few of the many ways we expect to see graphene make its way into our homes.
We are excited about the possibilities it holds for making our homes more energy-efficient, safer, and aesthetically pleasing.
We’ll certainly be watching for more ways this amazing material revolutionizes everything around us.