Though the old adage, “There’s nothing new under the sun” has been applied to, well, everything, I don’t know that it always holds true. I suppose if you’re going to apply it in a way that means all the materials we’ll ever need are available on Earth, then yes, there’s nothing new. But inventions are, by nature, something new, or at least elements that have previously never been mixed together.
That’s how concrete canvas came to be. There are a wide range of new building materials made of cheaper, lighter, and easier to assemble ingredients than ever before, and one of the most interesting of these is the aforementioned canvas. It’s a foldable fabric that can be draped over a frame, blown up, and then sprayed with water. 24 hours later, it’s practically a bunker.
How does this work? It’s part of a new growth in the Geosynthetic Cementitous Composite Mat (GCCM) market, wherein concrete and canvas are melded together. Once hydrated, the material will start hardening. The next day, you have a thin layer of concrete.
There are other applications as well, including being used to line gulleys, cisterns, and mines; protect softer building materials such as soil retaining walls; and as an alternative to regular concrete. It can be used in severely hot or cold temperatures, in pouring rain, snow, and natural disasters. It insulates well, it’s waterproof, and fire-resistant. There are many reasons to choose this particular material to work with, including ease of use and durability.
So why hasn’t “concrete on a roll” become more popular? Wouldn’t it make sense to have that available for construction, road work, low-income housing, and other uses? Where’s the worldwide recognition of this amazing new material?
Typically, with new inventions, the kinks have to be worked out first. Then once that happens, the material is showcased to big buyers who will invest in the material so that the creators can work on improvements or expand their market. So far, big corporations like Shell and BP are using this concrete canvas material, and it is being used in large projects around the world, but it will take some time for it to trickle down to the rest of us. The market right now is also very small, which means the product is expensive and difficult to get unless you live near the main office, which is situated in the UK.
All that to say, I expect to see concrete canvas becoming more widely known and less expensive as time goes on. Perhaps in a few decades it will be cost-effective, even, and will be used not only by businesses but by individuals as well, whether they’re using it for storage, shelter, or recreation.
Curious about the many ways concrete canvas is used? You can visit the official website here. You can also watch these YouTube videos to see how two people can put a shelter together in an hour, and an explanation on how concrete canvas works.