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Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre

Graphene-enhanced Concretene outside the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre

Construction materials

Graphene and other 2D materials have an important role to play across a wide range of construction materials as the industry tackles the challenges of sustainability and ‘smart’ buildings.

The construction industry is facing numerous challenges in the face of net-zero targets and one potential route to successful evolution is through the widespread adoption of advanced materials.

At the GEIC we are working in collaboration with industrial partners to find market-viable solutions to sustainability across the whole lifecycle of buildings and the built environment, from construction phase to operation and end-of-life.

This is a cross-cutting theme that touches on numerous of our other specialisations, such as composite materials, coatings and printed electronics.

Cement and concrete overview

The cement industry has one of the highest carbon footprints of any industrial sector, producing between 8-10% of global CO2 emissions. We are working on ways to mitigate the impact of the industry by using graphene to substantially reduce the amount of concrete and steel required in building projects.

From lab experiments to large-scale site trials, we have found our graphene admixtures to deliver improvements in compressive, tensile and flexural strength in concrete, accelerated curing time, crack reduction and reduced water and salt permeation.

Work is now ongoing towards verification and certification of graphene-enhanced concrete to enable roll-out across the construction industry.

Please contact us for more information on how your business can benefit from graphene in construction materials.

Concrete lab - equipment and capability

The GEIC has delivered numerous projects on low-carbon cementitious technologies. To facilitate further exploitation of these technologies with our collaborative partners, the GEIC has developed a low-carbon construction materials, test and verification facility. The facility has UKAS verification capability and has the following capabilities:

  • Generation and testing of mortar prisms/cubes at 300KN precision
  • Generation and testing of concrete cube/cylinders to 3000KN precision
  • Flexural testing for cementitious/asphalt/composite systems
  • Mixing capability
  • UKAS compatibility
  • LEV controls for HSE management
  • Access to GEIC characterisation facilities
  • Access to formulations facilities under GEIC project management

 Among other services, the lab will offer clients:

  • Determination of rheology, flow and slump
  • Determination of curing rates (via physical and analytical methods)
  • Affects on microstructure via microscopy, topology (surface profiling) and tomography
  • Determination of pore structure and density
  • Effects on barrier and transport properties
  • Effects on ageing properties and durability

We are also able to develop admixtures, specialist functional materials (eg. graphene functionalised materials such as cements and bitumens)  and/or test/source graphene materials to the correct specification for a particular design.

Please contact us for more information on how your business can benefit from our kit and capabilities in construction materials.

Bitumen and asphalt

Graphene’s strength, flexibility and barrier properties show great promise for the future resilience of our road network. We are working closely with UK Government agency National Highways on a range of projects from recycled asphalt and UV protection to anti-corrosion coatings for crash barriers.

A section of the A1 near Alnwick in Northumberland is currently being trialled with graphene-enhanced asphalt laid via cold in-situ recycling, a method that removes and replaces the road surface in one operation, saving time, cost and disruption for drivers.

Please contact us for more information on how your business can benefit from graphene.


The effects of corrosion are estimated to cost global industry a staggering $2.5 trillion every year. The barrier properties of graphene therefore offer a significant market opportunity in improvement of anti-corrosion coatings for the construction industry, among others.

Our dedicated Coatings and Membranes lab allows industry partners to use state-of-the-art equipment to test innovative formulations for coatings and paints for rebar and other steel work. These formulations offer resistance to salt ingress, reduced oxidation and improved fireproofing for the next generation of construction projects.

 Please contact us for more information on graphene coatings and how your business could benefit.

Sensors and monitoring

Graphene and other 2D materials have an active role to play in optimising energy efficiency of homes and offices. Having high sensitivity to their environment, printed or micro-fabricated sensors can be used to detect key metrics such as occupancy, temperature, humidity and air quality to control systems such as heating and air conditioning in a more efficient manner.

These sensing materials we are developing can be printed into sensors using modern high-throughput printing technology.

Embedding 2D materials into the structures themselves will even allow us to create smart or self-sensing materials to report early signs of damage or fatigue.

Please contact us for more information on the future of smart buildings.

Recycled materials

Today’s methods of recycling often lead to degradation of the target material's properties, meaning it’s not possible to reuse them for the same purpose.

The addition of graphene to recycled materials such as asphalt or plastics promotes their reuse by upcycling their mechanical (or tensile and flexural) properties and even adding new functionality such as UV resistance and fire retardancy.

Increasing the value of these waste materials will drive a circular economy by incentivising their collection, separation and reuse. We are currently engaged with commercial partners and government agencies in developments for infrastructure and residential construction.

Please contact us for more information on advanced materials for recycling in the construction industry.

Our team

We have a dedicated team in the construction theme, led by Application Manager Dr Lisa Scullion and supported by a team of application specialists and research technicians.