New Building Materials

New and Innovative Building Materials



insulated cement blockEven though this innovative building material product was designed and patented by Denny Miller in 2003 it is still an innovative and up-to-date building product. Omni Block is an insulated “stand-alone” structural wall system. It does not require furring strips, additional insulation, or sheetrock to complete the wall, even though numerous finishes may be added for aesthetic purposes.

At its core, Omni Block is a patented insulated cementitious masonry unit (CMU) wall system which combines the benefits of indigenous aggregates, Expanded Polystyrene, thermal lag (the delay, disruption and redirection of heat flow), exposed thermal mass (the absorption of heat), and air tightness. This results in a thermally efficient wall system and is consistent with well-known and widely accepted thermal performance standards.


Dr.-Sascha-Peters1Dr Sascha Peters is an innovation consultant and materials specialist from Germany. Peters is CEO of Haute Innovation, a company that focuses on streamlining innovation processes and providing material to technical methods for getting the products to market quicker. These are a few of the products that he has been focussing on recently.





SeaBalls_NeptuThermWhat are commonly referred to as Neptune balls.  They are matted seaweed fibers, this organic brown material can be found washed up on beaches around the world. They can also be used without additives as an insulating material and they have natural fire prevention properties. As it contains hardly any salts and no proteins it does not rot and the fibers are not harmful to the humans. With thermal conductivity of just 0.037 W/(mK), sea balls are highly suitable for building insulation (e.g., in roofs and timber and brick cavity wall structures.) They are sold as a commodity under the brand name NeptuTherm.


CocoPalm_CompositeX400Renewable alternatives have to be found to prevent continued destruction of valuable tropical woods and  rain forests. So we are always delighted to find products made from renewable composites.

Dutch manufacturer Kokoshout has found a way to use the wood from coconut palm plantations and make it suitable for the furniture industry and for flooring.

Unlike the structure of trees, coconut wood has no annual rings and has a spotted structure from which the name Cocodots originates. The wood is much harder on the outer part of the trunk (outer 5 cm) than on the inside, so this is the wood that is used for their product’s production. The shrinkage and swelling of coconut wood is minimal and is harder than oak.

The coconut palm grows to a height of 20-40 meters, and the diameter of the stem varies from 20 to 35 cm. The palms do not grow thicker over their lifespan, just longer. Just about every bit of the coconut palm tree can be used, from the leaves to the stem for wood roofs.

The main harvest from the coconut palm is the coconut fruit (fibers, copra and coconut oil). This can be farmed for many years, but when the fruit production stops, the palm is then cut and processed to produce palm wood for wood floors and furniture.

In the past the old palms did nothing, until it was discovered that they could be given a second life. Replanting is done on a regular basis. So the tropical forests are not affected by the use of coconut palm parquet flooring and furniture. Coconut wood has been certified by the Rainforest Alliance.






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  1. Subject:
    OMNI Block

    I read your article on the OMNI blck
    (… is this
    available in South Africa? If so would you mind advising who is


  2. Hi Stefan,
    I have not come across any company or individual making this specific block here in SA. There have been many products produced based on this theme over the years. These range from polystyrene filled panels that fit together to create walls to the reverse where polystyrene blocks act as a formmork and the concrete fill is poured into the hollows. If you do come across any being made here, please let us know as we would like to do a story about it. Thanks

  3. I have found the following local producer – ABP BUILDING PRODUCTS (

    It seems MRH Consulting Engineers ( have experience with the product.

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