Strong Sustainable Bricks made from Wool and Seaweed
Adding wool and seaweed in brick formation produces bricks that are 37% stronger than unfired traditional bricks
A team of researchers from Spain and Scotland are creating stronger bricks using non-toxic sheep’s wool and seaweed, while consuming less energy than traditional bricks.
The research from the University of Seville and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow is a collaborative effort to create sustainable building materials, and was recently published in the Journal of Construction and Building Materials. Scotland’s textile industry produces more wool than it can use, and the polymer, an alginate derived from seaweed, was mixed with clay soil from Scottish brick manufacturers. The three substances together, wool, seaweed polymer, and clay soil, resulted in a product estimated to be 37% stronger than unfired traditional bricks.
Researchers noted that the wool and seaweed alginate improved the strength of the compressed bricks by reducing the formation of cracks and deformities due to contraction, reducing drying time, and increasing the bricks’ resistance to flexion.
Environmental pluses include using non-toxic, locally available ingredients, and less energy than expended with firing of traditional bricks. The new bricks also would eliminate the creation of carbon dioxide generated by manufacturing of Portland cement, an ingredient in most kinds of concrete. The study did not mention how the more environmentally friendly seaweed and wool bricks compared in strength to fired bricks.
It is not known if the researchers intend to pursue commercial production of the new bricks, but creative research studies like these may prove to benefit not just building owners, but also wool producers and traditional brick manufacturers.