The end of the light switch?

Germany is experiencing a construction boom seemingly without end. With a yearly share of around 50%, the construction industry is one of the major consumers of raw materials and energy. This can be much more efficient with carbon concrete. The intelligent use of carbon in concrete as an infrastructure for electrics and electronics opens up completely new functions and applications. To discuss this topic and find cross-industry solutions, around 70 participants took part in the "Open Space Innovation Forum" from 20 to 21 March which is part of the CoolCarbonConcrete project - conducted by Cool Silicon e. V.

Stefan Uhlig loves plain text. The project manager of Cool Silicon eV in Dresden likes to put facts to the point: "For several years, research and application have shown that concrete structures reinforced with carbon fibers and not steel are four times lighter and six times stronger." Concrete slabs on facades only 2 cm thick - in contrast to the at least 8 cm thick classic facade slabs with reinforced concrete. The construction industry has registered these facts very well. With "C³ - Carbon Concrete Composite", the largest current research project of the german construction industry has become established. More than 170 partners from universities, colleges, research institutes, construction companies but above all medium-sized construction companies as well as the most important professional associations regularly put their smartest minds together to bring carbon concrete into the market. For example, they are currently looking for the smartest answers to the question: how can you install modern micro- and nano-sized electronics into the concrete? And Manager Uhlig adds: "And it's important to always keep the the customer's wishes in mind!"

Building bridges

Impressive examples of this "construction evolution" can already be seen today. Or more emotionally said - they are to be experienced! Sandra Gelbrich, a professor at Chemnitz University of Technology, names some striking examples: the facade of Hamburg's new Elbphilharmonie, an incredibly filigree bridge in Kolding in Denmark, and last but not least the honeycomb bridge at Chemnitz's Stadtbad: "This is exactly where we were able to prove that building with carbon concrete is an aesthetic gain and that the integration of smart electronics is possible. "The highlight of this bridge are" honeycombs ", lighting up with warm light when entering and thus showing the pedestrian the way. Embroidered sensors inside are one of the innovations that make this possible. The result is the experience to leave one's mark on the bridge. And an important sense of security.

Trend researcher Andreas Schanzenbach from the think-tank CROMATICS from Dresden said: "The megatrends of digitization are already here. Now we have to highlight the most important ones for us. " Best examples of this are the Oslo Airport City as a future energy producer or the Shanghai Tram, which only needs white lines, but no more rails.

Sophisticated technology

The workshops at the highlight event of the innovation forum "CoolCarbonConcrete" in the Dresden Technical Collections made it clear: technically possible is a lot, but what makes sense, what does the market want? Sensors are the modern "magicians". In the future, they can and should, of course, be integrated into the clutch of carbon fibers in concrete. At this point, they can measure almost anything: temperature, humidity, density, pressure, electrical conductivity, light intensity, movement ... they will send signals, receive and execute commands. The fact that two important elements for the new technology are existential was quickly clear to the roughly 70 participants in the eastern part of Dresden: electricity must be integrated into the concrete and probably also the fiber optic for ultra-fast data transmission. After all, you do not want to search for the light switch in the future, but the light should light up immediately when you enter your office or apartment. And the heater shouldn't spread warmth until you find the right app on your smartphone.

Urgent research

How long does a sensor last? 80 years like a building? How are the new quality standards defined and who enforces them? Will there be industrial prefabrication and who sets the standards? Which qualification will the local construction worker need in the future for the new technology? And who takes over the training? What else can be repaired on the spot? How do you organize the future disposal of carbon concrete with built-in electronics?

An important result of the Innovation Forum: all these questions do not shake up the cool idea for modern carbon concrete with integrated electronics, but they can be answered: "Not all until tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but step by step with this beeing the first one. ", Stefan Uhlig makes clear.

Cool Silicon thanks all participants and speakers for their contribution. The next meeting as part of the CoolCarbonConrete project will take place during Silicon Saxony Day on May 29, 2018.

About CoolCarbonConcrete

"CoolCarbonConcrete" is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the initiative "Innovationsforen Mittelstand" . The Cool Silicon e. V. is leading the project in cooperation with the C³ - Carbon Concrete Composite e. V.  With the help of the CoolCarbonConcrete innovation forum, cooperation potentials and project ideas for the integration of micro- and nanoelectronics in carbon concrete will be explored and new functionalities will be pointed out. The interdisciplinary networking between representatives of the construction industry and micro / nanoelectronics thus supports the development of innovative products and services at the interfaces of these two industries. The CoolCarbonConcrete innovation forum offers the participating partners from research and industry the opportunity to develop this interdisciplinary and innovative subject area and to find new partners and cooperations in the other branches. In this way, both existing ideas and research results should be put into practice in the sense of innovative, marketable products and, in addition, new ideas and research areas should be uncovered. Thus, the innovation forum creates a significantly broader knowledge of and insights into the innovation field among the actors involved. Whether new business models for SMEs or the significant expansion of the partner structure at the member level of the participating networks or the permanent cross-linking of Cool Silicon e. V. and  Carbon Concrete Composite e. V., the innovation forum CoolCarbonConcrete will not only present approaches, but also form a solid basis.    


Stefan Uhlig / Senior Project Manager
Cool Silicon e. V.
Phone: +49 351-8925-802

Matthias Tietze / Strategic Development
Carbon Concrete Composite e. V.

Phone.: +49 351-484 567-18

Related Links

more pictures of the Open Space Innovation Forum
About CoolCarbonConcrete 
C3-Carbon Concrete Composite e. V.
Innovationsforen Mittelstand

Sculpture: Prof. Sandra Gelbrich, TU Chemnitz
Cool Silicon e. V. / Photographer: Sven Claus

Author: PRpetuum GmbH