Smart cities are now much more ambitious. That means new materials are their biggest enabler, with information and computer technology dropping to an important support role. In its lucid information-packed 340 pages, the IDTechEx report, “Smart Cities Emerging Materials Markets 2021-2041” explains.
Researched by IDTechEx multilingual PhD level analysts across the world and constantly updated, the emphasis of the report is commercial opportunities and benefits to society. No nostalgia and no academic obscurity. Many new billion-dollar businesses will be created from this emerging market of hundreds of billions of dollars yearly for largely new materials for new requirements.
Consider the $0.5 trillion NEOM smart city being reclaimed from the Saudi desert and the $0.1 trillion Forest City being reclaimed from the Malaysian sea. Forest City names smart materials as pivotal.
Zero-emission smart cities will gain energy, food and water independence. That means materials requirements for far-away power stations, hydro dams, reservoirs, oil, gas and coal extraction and their long supply lines to cities will increasingly be replaced materials requirements for the very different city alternatives such as solar everywhere, gravity storage using green concrete, open-water power, better self-powered desalination. Materials supply lines get shorter, involve different materials and end up at different customers. Time to pay attention!
Adaptable energy-positive buildings will make food and electricity and human activities while treating their own sewage but only if environmental, affordable new materials are forthcoming. The city robot shuttles replacing up to ten existing vehicles have special materials with more to come, partly because some are 3D printed and some replace dumb windows and bodywork with electrically- and optically-multifunctional materials and dock sideways. This is definitely not a story of selling the same old stuff more to cities in future.
This report answers questions such as
- Objectives and potential of smart cities and material companies involved
- Which are spending the big money and what is their materials focus?
- What 50 gaps exist in the city materials market and what are the possible solutions?
- What are the big materials failures that I can solve to create large sales?
- Which can create billion-dollar businesses?
- Relevant 20-year forecasts and roadmaps resulting from the research?
- Why are water-related and multifunctional materials increasingly important?
- Materials for 3D printing of city buildings, robot shuttles, motors, parts, 3DP electronics?
- Multifunctional composites and structural electronics for cities. What becomes possible?
- Smart glass, transparent smart plastic, transparent, magnetic and green concrete?
- Flexible organics, membranes, bioplastics, advanced polymers for cities?
- Thermal interface materials and thermal insulation challenges in cities?
- 2D and 3D molecules, graphene, CNT applications in cities?
- Materials for 5G, 6G and THz electronics in cities 2021-2041?
- Why so many materials needed for photovoltaics beyond silicon? Where? Why?
- What newly-possible recycling underwrites success?
The 99 page Executive Summary and Conclusions is sufficient for those in a hurry. It presents new infograms, comparison tables and graphics with 13 primary conclusions. 70 forecasts are on further pages. The extensive Introduction explains smart cities and their reinvented transport, buildings and trends to water environments, simplification, moveable equipment, zero-emission throughout. This is all in the context of the next twenty years.
Chapter 3 concerns materials for 3D printing of buildings, vehicles such as the Olli city robot shuttle and 3DP electronics.
Chapter 4 addresses multifunctional composites and structural electronics for future cities.
Chapter 5 explains and forecasts the surprisingly varied and large requirements for smart glass, transparent smart plastic such as headlamp RadarGlass™ and the new microLED billboards and windows. Transparent, magnetic and green concrete variously enable city buildings, bridges, solar roads, charge vehicles in motion and make recyclable long-term storage and more but with mixed results. Your opportunity?
Chapter 6 focuses on flexible organics, membranes for the widespread sensors, energy storage, fuel cells. It reveals new bioplastics and advanced polymers. Their new virtuosity addresses both electronics and electrical engineering challenges, recyclability, biodegradability, multifunctionality.
Chapter 7 Thermal interface materials TIM are conductive and thermal insulation the opposite, these deserving a chapter because so many opportunities arise from so many unmet needs here.
Chapter 8 analyses which 2D and 3D molecules such as graphene, CNT and MXenes are enabling future energy harvesting, energy storage, even self-healing, energy-storing vehicle bodywork.
Chapter 9 acknowledges the pervasive rollout of 5G communications now and then 6G starting 2030-2035 at terahertz frequencies and indeed the new THz electronics in general from a materials viewpoint because most rollout and innovation will to the requirements of cities.
Chapter 10 concerns the many materials and formats emerging for ubiquitous photovoltaic power in cities from solar roads, plazas, buses and boats to facades, windows, solar paint, agrivoltaics, floatovoltaics and tracking lll-V solar.
Chapter 11 concerns newly possible recycling benefitting the environment and making certain materials more acceptable. That include plastics, even fluoropolymers, next batteries and next wind turbine blades.
Most of the largest cities are on the sea or a large river and, with rising sea levels, more will be water-based. Threads running through all the chapters are trends to cities spending heavily on water-related activities from supply and conservation of clean water in desert cities to the more common cities in, by and on water. They will use sea and river water for drinking, fish and vegetable cultivation, leisure, transport, power and more.
Learn gaps in these markets such as materials for wave power not destroyed by storms and buildings surviving rising sea levels. Learn why multifunctional materials, components, systems and infrastructure are also a common theme for all smart cities. There you can prosper. The report comes with 30 minutes free consultancy to fill in the gaps.