Chromocrete is a research project that started as part of Construction V with Gary Wang in Spring 2014 with a collaborative effort to create something "innovative" in the materials science industry. Later they were sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Fund (URF) at University of Texas at Austin for Spring 2015 to continue their research. Special thanks to Gary Wang, URF, and our supervisor Judith Birdsong.
This study will investigate the potential for a comercially available thermochromic concrete paneling system that responds to dynamic temperature changes with color change. Using thermochromic pigments, we will evaluate through a series of experiments if concrete can attain thermochromic properties by a physical mixing process. Concrete that is designed for non-structural applications do not require admixtures for additional strength. Therefore, thermochromic pigments can be used as a replacement for the admixtures in a calculated proportion to adhere with cement and water for this application. By offering an intuitive, perceptive indicator of temperature through a commonly used building material, we will explore the potential for building envelopes of the future that connect the general public to a visually iconic installation using Chromocrete.
Chromocrete was a successful project that could have future applications. Thermochromic powder is quite expensive so the price of a single sphere was still around $50. Near the end of our testing we found closer to the perfect mixture ratio of thermochromic powder, white cement powder, and water which was applicable to the small object scale. If we were to go further we would want to quantify effects such as overall strength of mixture, color changes on a spectrum against temperature, and also heat absorption effects based on color changing. These would be much more applicable where a gray pigment chromocrete panel would get lighter in color (back to white) as it heated up, therefore absorbing less sun and being potentially heat efficient.