Seminar 6: Materials and Construction


Shephard, Scott. The Art of Seeing. Photo of A Day. JPG. Posted August 28, 2012. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

Seminar Members: Matt H, Evan, Carson, Amanda, Andrew, John, Ryan, and Kyla

Article 1: J. Sarki, S.B. Hassan, V.S. Aigbodion, J.E. Oghenevweta. Potential of using coconut shell particle fillers in eco-composite materialsJournal of Alloys and Compounds 509 (2011) 2381–2385

  • Eco-Composite Materials: made from natural fillers and polynumeric materials, which are non-toxic, biodegradable, cheaper, reduce dependence on non-renewable resources, lower pollution and greenhouse gases, have high toughness, and low density
  • Of prime interest is agricultural waste to be used as a substitute for wood-based raw materials, in this article the main example is the coconut shell

Ceramic Canvas. Split Coconuts. Ceramic Canvas Blog. JPG. Posted June 25, 2009. (Accessed April 17, 2013)

  • Coconut shell: good thermal stability, biodegradable, and breaks into pieces much the same way as wood scraps
  • Con of its use: takes away from the food supply
  • Studies on the morphology of the coconut shell were put into place, where it was used as a filler and tested for its stress-strain behaviors
  • In the end, studies came to show that the material serves as an adequate substitute to other construction fillers.

Article 2: Bruce Mau and the Institute without Borders. Massive Change. Phaidon Press Limited, London. 2004.

  • Biomimicry: concentrates on the development of supermaterials based upon patterns in nature
  • Looking at thinks at the atomic level to enhance existing materials
  • Moh’s test: Hardness of a material determined by its resistance to scratching
  • Overcoming the hardness of a diamond, the contenders are cubic boron nitride and boron suboxide
  • Superstrong: develop synthetic fiber to surpass the support strength of spider silk and the synthetic adhesive to outperform the grip strength of gecko feet


  • “Mimicking spider silk properties has been the holy grail of materials science for a very long time” – Jeffrey Turner, president and CEO of Nexia Biotechnologies, Inc.
  • Materials family tree: ceramics, natural materials (wood, leather, plant fibers, etc), metals, synthetic polymers, and numerous branches from there
  • Superlight: less is always more, architects and engineers benefit from the versatility of porous gels and flexible films
  • Supersmall: working as a subatomic level to build materials from the bottom up
  • Supersmart: designing materials with stimulus response

Article 2 Questions:

1) What is the benchmark material that hard materials are graded by? Diamonds

2) To harness the strength of silk, scientists are putting protein from spiders into goats so that they can make silk from their milk. Is this process amoral?

  • Yes it is amoral because it is unnatural to mix the two attributes together and it is unknown whether or not the goats will be affected in the long term. If studies show that the goats are not harmed then the process is fine.

3) A self-heading skin is being developed that can sense touch through conductivity. From an ecological standpoint, how could this material be useful?

  • development of various healing methods, increasing the speed of healing. Buildings could also implement this process by being able to maintain themselves

4) Sea gel is the lightest solid ever, edible, and biodegradable. What are some potential uses for this material?

  • floating homes or insulation

~ by sbrodick on April 18, 2013.

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