As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, concrete and concrete production leaves a massive carbon footprint—approximately 6% of all carbon released into the atmosphere comes just from the laying of concrete. These new technologies are seeking to mitigate that in new and exciting ways.
Out of the University of Colorado, Boulder, comes an organic material that can be molded into shapes, including bricks. The process combines cyanobacteria, water, sand, gelatin, and nutrients to form microbes that help the sand stick together into a form of cement. The mixture is then poured into molds for blocks and bricks.
While weaker than traditional concrete, these bricks could be used to build structures through reinforcement and good design. This type of living concrete offers a lower carbon alternative to traditional concrete and the bacteria in the process can help to produce more bricks while giving off less greenhouse gasses.
Gabriela Medero, a professor at the Heriot-Watt University’s School of Energy, Geoscience and Infrastructure claims she’s found a way to make a brick from 100% recycled material. Known as K-Briq, it behaves as a natural clay brick.
The difference is that K-Briq, made from recycled demolition and construction waste, produces one tenth of the carbon dioxide emitted by a traditionally fired brick.
“I have spent many years researching building materials and have been concerned that modern construction techniques exploit raw materials without considering that they are amongst the largest contributors to carbon emissions,” Medero told the BBC. “The amount of waste they produce is not sustainable long term.”