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Transparent Concrete

Light Transmitting Concrete

Panels – A New Innovation
in Concrete Technology
MB Bureau

ransparent concrete is a concrete based building Background
material with light-Tran missive properties due to
embedded light optical elements usually Optical In 2001, the concept of transparent concrete was first
fibres. Light is conducted through the stone from one put forward by Hungarian architect AronLosonzi, and
end to the other. Therefore the fibres have to go through the first transparent concrete block was successfully
the whole object. Transparent concrete is also known as produced by mixing large amount of glass fiber into
the translucent concrete and light transmitting concrete concrete in 2003, named as LiTraCon. Joel S. and
because of its properties. It is used in fine architecture Sergio O.G. developed a transparent concrete material,
as a facade material and for cladding of interior walls. which can allow 80% light through and only 30% of
The main purpose is to use sunlight as a light source weight of common concrete. It is worth mentioning that
to reduce the power consumption of illumination and to Italian Pavilion in Shanghai Expo 2010 shows a kind of
use the optical fiber to sense the stress of structures and transparent concrete developed by mixing glass into
also use this concrete as an architectural purpose for concrete in 2010. While the transparent concrete mainly
good aesthetical view of the building. Refer Figure 1 for focuses on transparency and its objective of application
Transparent Concrete Panels. pertains to green technology and artistic finish.

98 The Masterbuilder - September 2013 •

Transparent Concrete

Figure 1: (a) Exterior view Jarbeurslaan, Genk, (b) Light shining through at the
hallway, (c) Shadows shining through the wall. (
Figure 1: Transparent Concrete Panels (Source: entertainingscience.blogspot.
com) light-electrical or photochemical process, and photo elastic
effect which can be used to study the stress distribution of
Functional principle
structures. Combining the advantages of the concrete and
Diffuse natural light and sun light provide the full spectrum optical fiber, developing a novel functional material called
of colors shining through the concrete panels. Sunlight is the transparent concrete has an important value in the application
most inexpensive light source. If the panel is mounted free of construction and sensing.
standing or in front of a window, one will not need any artificial
light source. Transparent concrete or translucent concrete is
work Based on “Nano-Optics”. Optical fibres passes as much
light when tiny slits are placed directly on top of each other as
when they are staggered. Principal can carry because optical
fibers in the concrete act like the slits and carry the light across
throughout the concrete.

Material Used for Transparent Concrete

There are two basic materials used for making transparent
concrete, one is from construction field and another from
sensing field. First, concrete is one of the most important
civil engineering materials with the advantages of rich raw
materials, low cost and simple production process and
second the optical fiber has good light guiding property
which can be arrange to transmit the light and the sun light
transmit according to pre-design road without light-heat,

(a) (b) (b) • The Masterbuilder - September 2013 99

Transparent Concrete

Figure 2: (a) Day View, (b) Close up – Edge, (c) Mark - passage to the Park. Figure 3: (a) Light panel elevator, (b) Entrance. (

companies involved in this production of light transmitting

Manufacturing Process
concrete. As part of the project, which was designed by
The manufacturing process of transparent concrete is almost Aachen-based architects Carpus & Partner, 150cm by 50cm
same as regular concrete. Only optical fibres are spread concrete panels containing optical fibres have been used,
throughout the aggregate and cement mix. Small layers of forming a total area 30m wide by 4m high with 136 panels.
the concrete are poured on top of each other and infused Each panel is fitting with colour-changing technology, with the
with the fibers and are then connected. Thousands of strands colours becoming brighter approximately one hour before
of optical fibers are cast into concrete to transmit light, either sunset. The LED-panels are controlled using an internet-based
natural or artificial.Light-transmitting concrete is produced by DMX technology system, with each panel containing 3%
adding 4% to 5% optical fibers by volume into the concrete optical fibres. The technology controlling the lights opens
mixture. The concrete mixture is made from fine materials up new boundaries for design and architecture as the light
only it does not contain coarse aggregate. Thickness of the panels are made with red, green and blue chips which control
optical fibers can be varied between 2 μm and 2 mm to suit more than 16 million colours. As well as this, all the panels can
the particular requirements of light transmission. be controlled independently meaning the entire facade can
become a large display screen. The light shows on the screen
Role of Lucem Lichtbeton in this Innovations: German concrete can be controlled via the internet or a mobile device and
manufacturer Lucem lichtbeton, is one of the leading interactive elements as well as text and logos can be displayed
on the screen. According to Lucem, the panels have various
uses including ‘facades, interior walls, claddings and flooring
systems up to the design of room dividers and bars’. There
are currently three different types of Lucem® Lichbeton panels,
which offer different effects and aesthetics for the user. With
the Lucem® Label panels, light transmitting fibres are arranged
individually so that clients can display design logos, images,
names, signatures and icons on the panels.

Some application areas of Lucem are as mentioned below:-

A. Clinic Genk - Surgical Clinic, Partition Wall

Classiness, high-grade furnishing and flawless services

for public health. The new building of an oral surgery clinig
presents a large-sized Lucem wall used as a room divider.
A brightly illuminated waiting area induces an interesting
(a) shadow play on the part of the offices. Throughout the

100 The Masterbuilder - September 2013 •

Transparent Concrete

massive wall the amount of waiting patients can be counted. appeared. A novel architectural material called transparent
The room concept in the whole clinic, being divided into concrete can be developed by adding optical fibre or large
waiting area, consultation area and medical treatment area, diameter glass fibre in the concrete mixture. The transparent
was designed as massive wall construction consisting out of concrete has good light guiding property and the ratio of
Lucem Lichtbeton and being translucent and brightly lighted optical fibre volume to concrete is proportion to transmission.
in the outer appearance. Refer Figure 1 (a), (b) and (c). The transparent concrete not looses the strength parameter
when compared to regular concrete and also it has very vital
B. Nesselande, Rotterdam, Outside illumination - promenade property for the aesthetical point of view. It can be used for
at Oeverpark the best architectural appearance of the building. Also used
where the light cannot reach with appropriate intensity. This
In Rotterdams district Nesselande a local recreation area was
new kind of building material can integrate the concept of
created. Long bands of concrete were integrated into the
green energy saving with the usage self-sensing properties
landscape enclosing the greenery on the one side and being
of functional materials.
a bench on the other side. Near the port of Rotterdam in a
public park right at the waterfront - perfect conditions to install Reference
Lucem as a outdoor application to prove the quality of Lucem
light transmitting concrete. Refer Figure 2(a), (b), (c). - Kalymnios, D. Plastic Optical Fibers (POF) in sensing – current
status and prospects. 17th International Conference on Optical
C. Signal Iduna, Extension of the main administration Fiber Sensors SPIE, 5855, 2005.
building of Signal Iduna insurances, Dortmund - Scherafe, T. “fabric Structure outpace applications: Recent
structural development expand the range of fabric options”,
Roomconcept, color design, materiality and art: those were Building design and construction, pp.128-138,1988.
the main subjects, Sassan Philip Haschemi & Associates - F. Ansari. Practical Implementation of Optical Fiber Sensors in
worked on, picking Lucem Line panels as a special highlight: Civil Structural Health Monitoring. Journal of Intelligent Material
Lucem light transmitting concrete panels for the entrance hall Systems and Structures, 18(8):879-889, 2007.
and the excecutive suite. The Lucem Line panels have been - Jianping He, Zhi Zhou, JinpingOu, Minghua Huang, “Study on
designed as floor to ceiling wall claddings utilising free space Smart Transparent Concrete Product and Its Performances”,
behind the panels for light supply. The special color of the Dalian, China, 2011.
light source was made consistent with the colors of the interior - D.D.L. Chung. Cement reinforced with short carbon fibers: a
design by using a LED source with warm-white light. multifunctional material. Composites: Part B.31:511-526, 2000.
- K.S.C. Kuang, M. Maalej, S.T. Quek. Hybrid optical fiber sensor
D. Residential house in Luxemburg system based on fiber Bragg gratings and plastic optical fibers
for health monitoring of engineering structures. Proc. of SPIE,
6174(61742P) 1-12, 2006.
- H.Li, H.G. Xiao, J.P. Ou. Microstructure of cement mortar with
nano-particles. Composites Part B Engineering, 35:185-189,
- Victoria Bailey, “Translucent Concrete”, MEEN 3344-001
- Z. Zhou, J.P. Ou, and B. Wang. Smart FRP-OFGB Bars and Their
Application in Reinforced Concrete Beams. Proceedings of the
First International Conference on Structural Health Monitoring
and Intelligent Structure, Japan: 861~866, 2003.
(a) (b)
Figure 4: (a), (b) A Light Transmitting Wall Panel. ( -
Conclusion -
Concrete is no longer the heavy, cold and grey material of
- A Study on Transparent Concrete: A Novel Architectural Material to
the past; it has become beautiful and lively. By research and
Explore Construction Sector, Bhavin K. Kashiyani, Varsha Raina,
innovation, newly developed concrete has been created Jayeshkumar Pitroda, Dr. Bhavnaben K. Shah, International
which is more resistant, lighter, white or colored, etc. Concrete Journal of Engineering and Innovative Technology (IJEIT) Volume
has learned to adapt to almost all new challenges that 2, Issue 8, February 2013.

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