Another science story that came my way after Denying Science had gone to press. I've no idea why it took so long for the story to reach me, but it was worth the wait!
Bioengineered Brick Wins 2010 Metropolis Next Generation Design Prize
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
An American architecture professor, Ginger Krieg Dosier, 32, Assistant Professor of Architecture at American University of Sharjah (AUS) in Abu Dhabi, has won this year’s prestigious Metropolis Next Generation Design Prize for “Biomanufactured Brick.” The 2010 Next Generation Prize Challenge was “ONE DESIGN FIX FOR THE FUTURE” - a small fix to change the world. The Next Generation judges decided that Professor Dosier’s well-documented and -tested plan to replace clay-fired brick with a brick made with bacteria and sand, met the challenge perfectly.
“The ordinary brick - you would think that there is nothing more basic than baking a block of clay in an oven,” said Horace Havemeyer, Publisher of Metropolis. “Ginger Dosier’s idea is the perfect example of how making a change in an almost unexamined part of our daily lives can have an enormous impact on the environment.”
There are over 1.3 trillion bricks manufactured each year worldwide, and over 10% are made by hand in coal-fired ovens. On average, the baking process emits 1.4 pounds of carbon per brick - more than the world’s entire aviation fleet. In countries like India and China, outdated coal-fired brick kilns consume more energy, emit more carbon, and produce great quantities of particulate air pollution. Dosier’s process replaces baking with simple mixing, and because it is low-tech (apart from the production of the bacterial activate), can be done onsite in localities without modern infrastructure. The process uses no heat at all:mixing sand and non-pathogenic bacteria (sporosar) and putting the mixture into molds. The bacteria induce calcite precipitation in the sand and yield bricks with sandstone-like properties. If biomanufactured bricks replaced each new brick on the planet, it would save nearly 800 million tons of CO2 annually.
There's lots more on this story here.