Review of Literature Related to Composite Materials

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Research question

Research Questions

Q. How can composite materials change the use of commonly used materials in today’s construction industry?

Q. How can design innovations change the properties of materials or group / combination of materials?

Q. Can composite materials replace the steel concrete construction everywhere or is this approach limited to only few sections of construction like low to mid rise buildings?


  • To study different materials being used in Indian construction industry.
  • To analyze these materials for their usefulness in the Indian climate.
  • To identify different materials which are available in market and can be used in Indian constructions.
  • Compare the advantages of composite materials over commonly used materials.
  • To identify the use and availability of composite materials in India.
  • To check the availability and use of composite materials outside India and to check its relevance in the Indian context.

To start with, the very first thing which needs by us to understand is what materials are presently being used in India, how are they used and how are they obtained. Are these materials locally available, or imported or artificially manufactured in here only. If so, how are the materials used for its manufacturing obtained.

To start with this lets us have a quick look at the materials being used presently in India.

  1. Burnt clay bricks and tiles

(GUPTA, 1998)Brick is one of the most commonly used material in the Indian construction industry. It is used in every place in India. It had been use by us from around ancient period. But the use it have decreased today as compared to that time. The bricks are manufactured in India using the clay present on the top soil and fire kilns. It is been constantly manufactured by many small scale industries in their own ways. These ways were mostly inefficient and resulted in poor quality of bricks and higher cost of construction.

The revolution in it came with the introduction of different materials along with the clay used for the brick construction. The most famous of it is the fly ash bricks or aac bricks. To name few of its advantages:

  • Saves energy in the kilns as the fly ash already contains traces of unburnt coal which helps it in drying or baking the brick more efficiently. Also since the brick is burnt also from the inside, it takes less time to bake.
  • It is lighter in weight as compared to the older bricks hence it can be casted in bigger blocks now and can now be used for faster constructions.
  • Its strength is more than the traditional red brick and it more uniform in shape due to the mechanism used for its production.
  • It can be used in almost every kind of construction due to its light weight and high strength.
  1. Stone

(GUPTA, 1998)Stone was one of the most commonly used material in the post Mauryan era and had been used till now. But its use and ways of implementation had changed. It is present in India in large amount and in variety of patterns and colors and textures etc. Stones are used prominently in the foundations, claddings, paving, floorings, and fencing. The types of stone present in India are Black granite, other granites, limestone, marble, sandstone, and slate and Delhi quartzite to name few. Also stones like Kota stone and Jodhpur stone are used extensively in the interiors and flooring. The stone is obtained by the process of quarrying. Quarrying is still done by the traditional manner only but by using the modern age tools. The stone is mostly obtained from an open pit, and could also be obtained by using explosives. There are three ways of obtaining stone, i.e. plug and feather method, explosives, and channeling.

In plug and feather method of quarrying, drills are holed in the stone. The feathers are formed to fill the holes on one side and flat on the other. Now these plugs or feathers are slowly driven to wedge away the stone.

Explosives are used to blast off a part of stone to remove the chunk of bigger rock from the other. But this method gives us very irregular form of stone. These stones ate used in the concrete as the aggregate.

Channeling is done by drilling holes 6 m deep I the stone and then a locomotive is used to drive the chisel to attain desired depth.

The used of stone and its durability are well-established facts and are known for them.

  1. Building lime

Lime has been used since 4000 BC. Lime is used in the construction of buildings and roads, in lime mortar, lime concrete, plasters, stabilized bricks, autoclaved calcium silicate bricks, fly ash sand lime bricks, and cellular concrete. It is produced using the process of calcination of limestone of natural lime.

  1. Gypsum

Gypsum is an important building material. It is used to manufacture Plaster of Paris, gypsum plaster, fibrous gypsum board, gypsum blocks, acoustic tiles, etc. The use of gypsum in India is limited to commercial and institutional buildings only. It is not used so much in India presently than it can be used.

  1. Glass

(GUPTA, 1998)Glass manufacturing in India is huge with both organized and unorganized sectors. The glass industry in India is highly developed and fairly cost effective. The use of glass in India is also very high and is used mostly in every building and with the increase in the commercial buildings like malls and office buildings, the demand of glass increased manifolds. Glass is manufactured using the silica. There are many types of glass like fused silica glass, alkali silicate glass, soda lime glass, lead glass, boro silicate glass, special glass, glass fibers, optical glass, mirrors etc.

Glass is also used in building industry in many ways. Transparent and translucent glass sheets, clear or tinted, are used as windows and skylights. It is also used as an infill in the doors and the windows. India manufactured every type of glass viz. float, clear float, coated and low emission, rolled wired and opalescent, laminated, heat treated, tempered, heat strengthened, and spandrel.

Glass are used in many ways like glass tiles. These are made for the purpose of glazing, wall finish, partitions, ceilings etc. They are also used in the curtain walls and swimming pools. They are used intensively in the landscaping also.

Mirrors are also one of the major use of glass in the building industry. They are the standard fitting of the bathrooms, bedrooms, and now they are even used as an element of decoration.

Glass fibers are thin and long fibers of glass which are used to manufacture different other types of materials. They are used to manufacture various composites in which gypsum plaster, polyester or epoxy resin or cement is used as a binder. Glass fibers reinforced composites are also available in the market and are used to manufacture pipes, tanks, panels etc.

There are new products also available in the market by the name of glass ceramics. They are used as paneling, ceilings, thermal insulation and fire resistant materials. Blast furnace slags are also used to manufacture the glass ceramics.

  1. Ceramics

Ceramics are used to manufacture sanitary wares, glazed tiles, stoneware, tableware, refractories, bricks for roofing and enamel wares etc.

  1. Steel

(GUPTA, 1998)Steel is a very widely used material in today’s world. And it is used widely in building constructions also. The structural steel is used for building constructions and have an increasingly important role in traditional, medium density housing. The use of hot rolled structural steel products particularly, has shown advantages through its inherent strength. The advantages of using steel is the availability of long column free spans and saves building materials due to low depth of steel beams. Nowadays, new lightweight steel beams are also available and are the reasons for the new various innovations.

Uses of steel in buildings:

  • Steel framed skeletal structures for high rise buildings.
  • Large span flat roofs using steel beams.
  • Steel concrete composite framed structures for higher stability.
  • Steel trusses.
  • Steel piles.
  • RCC.
  • Prestressed steel wires.
  • Steel wires for cement concrete.
  • Doors, windows, tanks, etc.
  • Staircase, lifts, pipes, poles and posts, gates, fencings, mesh etc.

Steel is a very reliable construction material and is also used extensively.

  1. Cement and concrete

(GUPTA, 1998)Cement is one of the most widely used building material and definitely one of the most important one also. There are many variety of cement present in today’s world, but the most commonly used cement is the Portland cement. Cement industry is a core sector industry and forms the backbone of the infrastructure development of the country.

(Anon., n.d.)Concrete is the most extensively used material in the whole world. Today. Every building used concrete for construction. It surpasses steel consumption of the world. It is made by using the cement along with other things like sand, aggregate, etc.

There are many recent advancements in the concrete industries which have made very attractive alternatives to use concrete as the primary construction material. But we will discuss it later in detail.

  1. Composites or composite materials

(Anon., n.d.)Composite materials are the materials which are made by combining two different type of materials to form a new compound of the two or more materials to achieve the desired properties. (RILEM, n.d.)Composites are used effectively in each sector of construction industries. (Papanicolaou, n.d.)There are many types of composite materials present in the world like manmade and natural fibers based composites, wood composites and composites form the local materials. The composites from local materials can also be classified as the combination materials in which no chemical combination occurs, but various materials are combined together in specific sets to achieve desired results. The other types of composites available are bamboo and wood composites, polymer, plastics and surface coatings, metal matrix composites etc. to name a few.

Now the overview of the materials used in India or present in India is done. We now need to search for the materials which are not present in India but can work very well for the Indian context.


Anon., n.d. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 15 July 2014].

Anon., n.d. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 15 july 2014].

GUPTA, T., 1998. Building materials in India 50 years by GUPTA,TN. In: T. Gupta, ed. Building materials in India 50 years. Delhi: Building Material and Technology Promotion Council, p. 536.

Papanicolaou, S. P. a. G. ed., n.d. Engineering Applications of New Composites by S.A. Paipetis and G.C. Papanicolaou. In: s.l.:s.n.

RILEM, n.d. Combining Materials: Design, Production and Properties by RILEM. s.l.:RILEM.