Some 1.23 trillion bricks are made every year — so brick making has a bigger carbon footprint than the entire airline industry. Traditionally, bricks are made by hand after clay is heated at high temperatures in coal-ovens — each brick usually produces 1.3 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Ginger Krieg Dosier discovered how to grow bricks at room temperature. She has developed a way to create eco-friendly bricks using calcium chloride, bacteria, sand, and urea.
Doisier uses a process called microbial-induced calcite precipitation, or MICP, to bind the sand particles together with bacteria. Then as Fast Company describes, the bricks are built layer-by-layer like lasagna.
“We’re running out of all of our energy sources,” [Dosier] told Metropolis Magazine. “Four hundred trees are burned to make 25,000 bricks. It’s a consumption issue, and honestly, it’s starting to scare me.”
So far Dosier, an architecture professor at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, has created "Lego-sized" bricks, Popular Science reports. However, if Dosier's "ecobricks" are used instead of the traditional ones, they could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 800 million tons a year.
Dosier's brick making nabbed Metropolis Magazine's 2010 Next Generation award. According to Metropolis Magazine, the recipe for building a bacteria-based brick is:
- Place the "formwork" in the sand.
- Fill it up.
- Mix up the bacteria solution.
- Pour the bacteria solution over the sand.
- Wait. Allow the solution to saturate.
- Pour the glue-like solution over the sand to bind the particles together.
- Again, be patient. Let it saturate.
- Let the brick get hard.
- Remove the "formwork".
- Allow the brick to get harder.
- Solid. The bio brick should be good to go.
To make the bricks on a large scale, Dosier needs to figure out how to print them in 3D. Besides the manufacturing issue, Tree Hugger points out a potential environmental hurdle to overcome: The process eventually produces nitrates, a pollutant that could leak into the nearby groundwater supply.
via Popular Science