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Turning sewage into sustainable bricks

23/01/2019
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When sewage is treated you are left with a by-product called biosolids. Generally, these biosolids are disposed of in landfill, or at best used as fertiliser. But a team at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia believes that this sewage can be put to a better use… as sustainable bricks.
Stockpiled biosolids normally contain between 50 to 90% solids and resemble soil. Prof Mohajerani's team has managed to turn this material into sustainable bricks for the construction industry.
(Stockpiled biosolids normally contain between 50 to 90% solids and resemble soil. Prof Mohajerani’s team has managed to turn this material into sustainable bricks for the construction industry. Image via RMIT University).

The team, led by Associate Professor Abbas Mohajerani, believe that sustainable bricks manufactured from biosolids offer a number of environmental and economic benefits over bricks made from more traditional materials.

As well as being cheaper to produce, the biosolids bricks have a lower thermal conductivity, transferring less heat to potentially give buildings higher environmental performance. The biosolid-enhanced bricks have also passed compressive strength tests and analysis meaning they’ll be able to be used in a variety of construction applications. 

Associate Professor Mohajerani believes that the use of biosolid-bricks could also lesson the environmental impact that traditional brick manufacture has upon the environment:

“More than 3 billion cubic metres of clay soil is dug up each year for the global brickmaking industry, to produce about 1.5 trillion bricks”.
Associate Professor Abbas Mohajerani with a biosolids brick.
(Associate Professor Abbas Mohajerani with a biosolids brick. Image via RMIT University).

“Using biosolids in bricks could be the solution to these big environmental challenges. It’s a practical and sustainable proposal for recycling the biosolids currently stockpiled or going to landfill around the globe”.

The research also indicated that brick firing energy demand was cut by up to 48% for bricks incorporating 25% biosolids. This is due to the organic content of the biosolids and could considerably reduce the carbon footprint of brick manufacturing companies.

As the old saying goes waste not want not so just think, in the future, sewage could be a key component in the construction of your next house…

Want to get involved in innovative construction technologies?

Then register with Fircroft today. We’re always seeking engineering and technical professionals to work on interesting projects. You can also explore our current construction vacancies here.
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Turning sewage into sustainable bricks - Time to read 2 min
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