The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation, with activity driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability and workplace safety, and the growing importance of technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). 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 waste-based cements. 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 waste-based cements is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Recycled waste-based cements are types of cement that utilize waste materials in their composition, reducing the reliance on traditional raw material inputs and promoting sustainability. The waste materials used are typically industrial byproducts or post-consumer waste that would otherwise end up in landfills. Examples of recycled waste-based inputs include fly ash, a byproduct of the combustion of coal, ground granulated blast furnace slag, a byproduct of iron and steel manufacturing, and rice husk ash, an agricultural waste product. The use of recycled waste-based cement aligns with sustainable and circular construction practices, with waste material reused and repurposed rather than being discarded.

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 waste-based cements.

Key players in recycled waste-based cements – 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 waste-based cement

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
HeidelbergCement 145 Unlock Company Profile
Holcim 141 Unlock Company Profile
Gebr Knauf 90 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Osaka Cement 87 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 86 Unlock Company Profile
Taiheiyo Cement 65 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 62 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger 57 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 34 Unlock Company Profile
Sika 33 Unlock Company Profile
Geopolymer Solutions 31 Unlock Company Profile
Solidia Technologies 27 Unlock Company Profile
Tokuyama 26 Unlock Company Profile
Vulcan Materials 25 Unlock Company Profile
Takenaka 19 Unlock Company Profile
Yara International 18 Unlock Company Profile
Nishimatsu Construction 15 Unlock Company Profile
Ihc Holland Ie 15 Unlock Company Profile
The Intellectual Gorilla 14 Unlock Company Profile
Solvay 13 Unlock Company Profile
Ruentex Engineering & Construction 13 Unlock Company Profile
International Innovative Technologies (IIT) 11 Unlock Company Profile
Albemarle 11 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Concrete 10 Unlock Company Profile
Vinci 9 Unlock Company Profile
James Hardie Industries 9 Unlock Company Profile
Nexans 9 Unlock Company Profile
Entech Computer Services 8 Unlock Company Profile
Obayashi 8 Unlock Company Profile
Kajima 8 Unlock Company Profile
Bouygues 7 Unlock Company Profile
Omya International 7 Unlock Company Profile
Osaka Gas 7 Unlock Company Profile
Parma 6 Unlock Company Profile
JFE 6 Unlock Company Profile
Nichiha 6 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 6 Unlock Company Profile
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 5 Unlock Company Profile
ShawCor 5 Unlock Company Profile
ShreddedTire 5 Unlock Company Profile
Swiss Krono 4 Unlock Company Profile
Nihon Kogyo 4 Unlock Company Profile
Saint-Gobain Weber 4 Unlock Company Profile
Far Eastone Telecommunications 4 Unlock Company Profile
Prad Research And Development 4 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO 4 Unlock Company Profile
Betolar 4 Unlock Company Profile
Eiffage 4 Unlock Company Profile
James Hardie International Finance 3 Unlock Company Profile
Takemoto Oil & Fat 3 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading patent filers in the development of recycled waste-based cement include Heidelberg Materials, a manufacturer and distributor of cement and aggregates, ready-mixed concrete and other building materials. Key innovations patented by Heidelberg Materials in the space include a method to manufacture a composite cement, obtainable by grinding Portland cement clinker and latent hydraulic material together. The method of manufacturing the composite cement comprises the grinding of a latent hydraulic material and a Portland cement clinker together, preferably in the presence of at least one amine, to provide a ground mixture and combining the ground mixture with one or more mineral fillers as well as to binders and to using the cement or binders as building material.

In terms of application diversity, leading companies in the space include Betolar, Saint-Gobain Weber and James Hardie Industries. By means of geographic reach, leading innovators in the development of recycled waste-based cement include Gebr Knauf, a manufacturer of building materials, and Geopolymer Solutions, a concrete technology innovator and building material manufacturer.

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.