May 13, 2010
It seems like pee, or more specifically urea, is becoming quite the sustainable ingredient. Beyond being tapped as a good source of hydrogen, it’s powering batteries and is now being used to make sustainable bricks.
Architect Ginger Krieg Dosier has designed a way of “growing” bricks by combining sand, bacteria, calcium chloride and urea, all easy-to-come-by materials. Traditional brick-making is very energy-intensive, producing more pollution than global air travel each year. It’s also consumes a lot of resources: 400 trees are burned to make 25,000 bricks.
These Better Bricks are created through a chain of chemical reactions known as microbial-induced calcite precipitation. Once all the ingredients are combined, the bacteria serves as a glue that binds the sand together, creating a brick that is as tough as a fired-clay brick or even marble and requires no baking to achieve that strength.
If Better Bricks replaced all traditionally-fired bricks, 800 million tons of CO2 emissions would be eliminated each year.