Decoding Design

Bricks made from sewage cut carbon emissions

Posting in Technology

A UK based firm mixes incinerated waste and vegetable oil to produce carbon-negative building blocks.

The making of traditional cement, the primary component of concrete, accounts for five to ten percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. By combining ash from incinerated sewage with a vegetable oil based binder, UK based Encos have introduced masonry blocks and bricks that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by estimates of 160 percent for blocks and 120 percent for bricks.

Better than carbon-neutral, the blocks are classified as carbon-negative since the oil is made from plants which have absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A patented chemical process changes the oil to a solid binder that bonds the 'incinerated sewage sludge ash' particles. The aggregates can be made from other non-hazardous types of industrial and commercial waste, not just sewage. The binder stores carbon dioxide and decreases the amount of material that would go to a landfill. Producing the blocks and bricks uses no water and creates no waste.

The blocks and bricks do not smell and have been tested for and passed industry standards for heat, freezing, and strength.

The company will test manufacture the carbon-negative masonry blocks and bricks in a newly approved facility in Yorkshire, near its Leeds University base. Encos cites the eminent building regulations in the UK that will require reductions in the embedded carbon cost of new construction homes. The company is producing their blocks as flexible and environmentally friendly alternatives for the construction industry.

Via: Construction Enquirer
Image: Encos

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure