Heralding a quantum leap


Mihir Shah, Managing Director, Notus Composites and Nova Composites Manufacturing
Mihir Shah, Managing Director, Notus Composites and Nova Composites Manufacturing

Museum of the Future promises to redefine the realm of possibilities for the construction industry

By Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli

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Published: Sat 19 Mar 2022, 12:00 AM

A museum technically is a building that houses and exhibits objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interests, providing a window to the past. Future concepts have traditionally been the realms of research and development units. The Museum of the Future, however, has redefined this concept. While the conceptualisation and creation of this structure pushed the boundaries and stretched the imagination of its creators, its engineering marvel and promises of endless possibilities are now inspiring its visitors every day.

“It is among the most complex construction projects ever attempted in the UAE and required the use of sophisticated and futuristic technology. Notus Composites provided 100 per cent of the fire retardant (FR) composite materials for the entire facade of the museum and Nova Composites Manufacturing, a firm that we launched in April 2020 in the midst of the global lockdown and movement restrictions locally, took over the manufacturing of the panels themselves to complete the remaining panels for the museum’s 1,024 piece facade. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and we are proud to have been a part of it, delivering the project on time despite a multitude of challenges,” says Mihir Shah, Managing Director, Notus Composites and Nova Composites Manufacturing. Notus provided both carbon fibre and glass fibre composite materials (FR epoxy prepregs) for the facade of the museum, a high-tech material that has mostly been used in the aerospace, defence, marine, and automobile industry, and is now making inroads in the construction industry too.

“We started as the suppliers of the composite material for the entire facade and later were awarded the contract for completing the facade panels too. It was a nod to our engineering strength, quick turnaround time, and ability to get a facility in place rapidly that could meet the project deadlines. The construction of the unconventional torus shape and column-free edifice could herald a new chapter in the construction industry, giving more confidence to architects and developers to experiment with unconventional designs and structures,” adds Shah. “The museum from the outside looks like a steel structure but it is not. The embossed stainless-steel cladding is just 0.8mm in thickness, providing a stunning visual finish for the lightweight advanced composite panel. We developed a special technique to securely bond the stainless-steel sections to the composite. Using advanced composites, a massive range of surface finishes are possible. We can give any look, shape, and feel to a building with— marble, mosaic, wood, stainless-steel, and aluminium finishes. That is the beauty of this product. Advanced composite materials such as our prepregs can redefine how we make our structures, whilst also creating a more sustainable building and taking care of the environment. This museum will inspire a lot of people to focus on making lighter and more efficient structures, and not just use concrete and steel.”

Notus materials have the added advantage of being fire retardant and being more sustainable alternatives to traditional materials. “Our composite products have passed the most stringent fire tests such as NFPA285 and ASTM E 84 and are approved by Dubai Civil Defence. The fire retardant epoxy resin system provides equivalent or better performance compared to less sustainable polyester products and is much safer for the workers building the panels as they don’t give off harmful fumes.”

Nova Composites provides design, engineering, fabrication, and installation services. It has a fully integrated manufacturing facility in Dubai with its fire retardant raw materials coming from Notus Composites, which is a sister company.

“Our foremost strength is having our own raw material company as well as a manufacturing and finishing facility. We save on shipping costs, offer a reduced carbon footprint, and played a key role in the LEED platinum certification achieved by the museum.”

Nova is also providing composite structures for the new Atlantis Residences at The Palm and has been working on several big construction projects in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The company is also very active in the marine sector, building lighter, faster, and more durable boats in its factory in Dubai. “This year, we are looking to create more manufacturing capacity by separating our marine and construction factories and also relocating Notus, our raw material division, to Dubai from Ras Al Khaimah. We are expecting to achieve more than 3 digit growth this year,” said Shah.

Nova’s marine division has several innovative new projects underway, including fast 30-foot sailing yachts, a high-powered 44 speed boat and smaller all-electric new motorboat design, “Our new electric boat project is the first artificially intelligent electric boat and will be launched by the end of this year,” he added.

Nova Composites is focusing strongly on offering more sustainable alternatives to the marine and construction industry through its prepreg materials that make structures lighter and more efficient. It is looking at developing solar-powered catamarans and special blades for large ships that can supplement the ships’ engines and reduce their overall carbon footprint. The team at Nova Composite comprises industry veterans, who are passionate about pushing the limits of engineering possibility and providing a wide range of different industries with more environmentally friendly solutions. Their work at the Museum of the Future is just the start of this journey.

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