The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability and workplace safety, and the growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. In the last three years alone, there have been over 425,000 patents filed and granted in the construction industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in construction: recycled concrete fillers. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

80+ innovations will shape the construction industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the construction industry using innovation intensity models built on over 232,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, self-healing concrete, atmospheric water harvesting, and recycled concrete fillers are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Vacuum insulated glazing (VIG), eco-friendly HVACs and recycled waste-based cements are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is wall surface temperature controls, which is now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the construction industry

Recycled concrete fillers is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Recycled concrete fillers are crafted from finely crushed and pulverized waste or surplus concrete, serving as supplementary cementitious materials in concrete product manufacturing. These fillers enhance the mechanical properties, durability, and overall performance of high-performance concrete. By incorporating these materials, derived from processed concrete waste, as partial substitutes for natural aggregates in new concrete mixes, the dependence on new aggregate materials from quarries is diminished. This not only conserves natural resources, but also lessens the environmental impact. Utilizing recycled concrete fillers not only diverts concrete waste from landfills, aiding waste management strategies, but can also improve concrete properties such as workability, strength, and durability, depending on their composition and processing methods. Additionally, the incorporation of recycled concrete fillers has the potential to reduce concrete production costs by repurposing waste materials instead of relying on virgin aggregates.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 100+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of recycled concrete fillers.

Key players in recycled concrete fillers – a disruptive innovation in the construction industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.  

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to recycled concrete fillers

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Halliburton 50 Unlock Company Profile
Holcim 42 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Osaka Cement 35 Unlock Company Profile
Omya International 35 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO 23 Unlock Company Profile
Active Minerals International 22 Unlock Company Profile
Yara International 22 Unlock Company Profile
James Hardie Industries 20 Unlock Company Profile
Yoshino Gypsum 19 Unlock Company Profile
Ruredil. 17 Unlock Company Profile
Gebr Knauf 16 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 14 Unlock Company Profile
Taiheiyo Cement 13 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 12 Unlock Company Profile
Sika 11 Unlock Company Profile
Tauw 10 Unlock Company Profile
CEMEX 9 Unlock Company Profile
Bouygues 9 Unlock Company Profile
Mohawk Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
LG 7 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 7 Unlock Company Profile
DuPont de Nemours 7 Unlock Company Profile
TransferTech Sherbrooke (formerly SOCPRA sciences et genie S.E.C.) 7 Unlock Company Profile
Comstack 7 Unlock Company Profile
China State Construction Engineering 6 Unlock Company Profile
Lhoist Recherche Et Developpement 6 Unlock Company Profile
Seven Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Mitsui Construction 5 Unlock Company Profile
Taisei 5 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President China 5 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 5 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Materials 4 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Concrete 4 Unlock Company Profile
Arkema 4 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 4 Unlock Company Profile
Vulcan Materials 4 Unlock Company Profile
China Communications Construction Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Loesche 3 Unlock Company Profile
Boral 3 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 3 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Electric Glass 3 Unlock Company Profile
Axiata Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Southwest Petroleum 2 Unlock Company Profile
Jungheung Construction 2 Unlock Company Profile
Guangxi Road and Bridge Construction 2 Unlock Company Profile
HeidelbergCement 2 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Expressway 2 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hanil Cement 2 Unlock Company Profile
Daewoong 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Halliburton is the leading patent filer for recycled concrete fillers, while Holcim and Omya International stood in the second and third positions, respectively.

Halliburton stands as the main oilfield service company, strategically investing in recycled concrete fillers to actively address its carbon footprint and environmental impact. Focused on serving the upstream oil and gas industry, Halliburton spans the entire reservoir lifecycle, offering expertise from hydrocarbon identification to geological data management, drilling, formation evaluation, well construction, completion, and production optimization. Providing comprehensive solutions such as cementing, stimulation, intervention, artificial lift, well-bore placement, and completion services, the company caters to the needs of upstream oil and gas entities. With production facilities strategically located in the US, Malaysia, Singapore, and the UK, Halliburton extends its global reach across North America, Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, US, Halliburton is dedicated to embracing environmentally responsible practices and championing sustainability within the energy sector.

In terms of application diversity, Nippon Electric Glass leads the pack, while James Hardie Industries and Mohawk Industries stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Active Minerals International held the top position, followed by Yara International and Yoshino Gypsum.

Nippon Electric Glass (NEG) is a leading glass manufacturer, specializing in the production and marketing of specialty glass products and glassmaking machinery. The company's diverse range of glass offerings includes products for display, automotive, ICT, medical care, lighting, energy, social infrastructure, and home appliances. With brands such as Neoparies, FireLite, Lamion, Lumiphous, StellaShine, Dinorex, LX Premium, and more, NEG serves various industries. In addition to its core glass business, NEG is actively involved in the research and development of recycled concrete fillers, aligning with its commitment to resource conservation, waste reduction, and the creation of environmentally friendly construction materials. As the construction industry emphasizes sustainability, NEG's contributions to recycled concrete fillers are anticipated to play a vital role in reducing the environmental impact of concrete production and fostering a circular economy in construction. Headquartered in Otsu, Shiga, Japan, NEG operates globally with manufacturing facilities and operations in locations such as Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, China, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in Construction.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.