The new Innovative Materials (2023 volume 2) has just been released

‘StarCrete’: new building material for Mars

Building infrastructure and settlements in space is expensive and difficult. Future space construction will have to rely on materials available on site. Scientists at the University of Manchester have developed a new material, ‘StarCrete’ that could be used to build houses on Mars and is made from alien dust, potato starch and salt.

Breaking down waste and reforming it into products

We have been separating our waste for many years, but a large part of the waste stream cannot be recycled. Scientists at the University of Twente are researching, in collaboration with companies, how you can make new products from so-called complex and ‘wet’ waste streams. This involves efficiently isolating the chemical components that are then used in new materials. This spring sees the start of the project ReBBloCS – Renewable Building Blocks from Complex and wet waSte – with a grant of 3.8 million euros from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

Using artificial intelligence to design innovative materials

Advanced materials become increasingly complex due to the high requirements they must fulfill regarding sustainability and applicability. Dierk Raabe and colleagues of the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (MPIE) have been researching the role that artificial intelligence (AI)could play in materials science. They conclude that AI has several advantages compared to traditional simulation methods and expect that it can play a crucial role in the development of new, innovative materials in the future.

MaterialDistrict 2023

From Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 March, MaterialDistrict Utrecht 2023 was organized in the Werkspoorkathedraal in the same city. The event was visited by more than 4,400 architects, designers and other interested parties. The 125 exhibitors presented their sustainable and circular innovations, from large companies to young talent. According to the organization, it was clear to see that there is enormous interest in sustainable materials and innovative applications in that area. This was reflected in a wide range of innovations in almost all types of materials, from seaweed sheet material, tiles made from circular concrete, sheet material made from old textiles, terrazzo made from crushed glass, bricks and roof tiles, glass foam made from recycled glass, glazes made from waste material and much more.

Salt battery for home use

Storing energy in a salt battery has been seen for years as a sustainable concept that can contribute to the heat transition. Jelle Houben, PhD candidate at TU/e, investigated how to improve materials to increase the battery’s energy storage capacity, and recently developed a salt battery – in collaboration with spin-off Cellcius – that will be used for real-world tests in residential homes. Jelle Houben defended his PhD thesis at the department of Applied Physics on March 9th.

TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize

Last March in Los Angeles, the winners of the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize were announced; according to the organizers of the global competition aimed at developing scalable and biodegradable alternatives to traditional plastic bags. The award was distracted in 2020 by beauty company TOM FORD and non-profit organisation Lonely Whale.