Efficient Concrete Replacement: Blocks of Trash

bitublock.jpg

From Live Science: Last year’s trash could become next year’s model home, thanks to the invention of a new type of construction material made entirely from waste products. “Bitublocks,” created by engineer John Forth of the University of Leeds in England, are composed of recycled glass, sewage sludge, incinerator ash, the by-products of metal purification and pulverized fuel ash from power stations.

“Bitublocks use up to 100 percent waste materials and avoid sending them to landfill, which is quite unheard of in the building industry,” Forth said. Forth hopes his new invention will revolutionize the building industry by providing a sustainable, low-energy replacement for concrete blocks.


“Less energy is required to manufacture the Bitublock than a traditional concrete block, and it’s about six times as strong, so it’s quite a high-performance product,” Forth said.

Bitumen, a sticky substance used in paving roads, binds the waste products together before they are compacted in a mold to for a solid block. The block is then heat-cured , which causes the bitumen to harden like concrete. Using bitumen means a higher proportion of waste products can be used in the blocks than if cement or clay were used to bind the materials. These blocks could put to use millions of pounds of crushed glass and incinerator ash.

Plans also are now under way to develop a “Vegeblock” using waste vegetable oil.

Comments

  1. Eric Arrow says

    Believe it or not, I saw this same idea in Mad Magazine in the early 80s. It was a feature about the future.

  2. says

    It is better to incorporate sewage sludge into a block than to spread it on land.

    The waste industry is promoting the landspreading of sewage sludge in the UK. However US research has highlighted the fact that it may contain infectious human and animal prions. This puts humans, livestock and wildlife at risk of infection.

    Prion researchers at the University of Wisconsin were given a $100,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant and a $5 million Dept. of Defence grant to research the problem. They have found that Prions can survive for over 3 years in soils.

    Prion diseases include Altzheimers and BSE (Mad Cow Disease) and Prion diseases are always fatal, resulting in TSE’s (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies) Infectious prions have been found in human and animal muscle and organs, saliva, blood, as well as urine and feces (obviously found in raw sewage).

    Prions cannot be destroyed by any sewage treatment process, in fact, they are made more concentrated in the sewage sludge.

    Quotes from Dr. Joel Pedersen, Univ. of Wisconsin, on his prion research:

    “Our results suggest that if prions were to enter municipal waste water treatment systems, most of the agent would partition to activated sludge solids, survive mesophilic anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids. Land application of biosolids containing prions could represent a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results argue for excluding inputs of prions to municipal wastewater treatment.”

    But how could that be achieved? How do you stop someone with Altzheimer’s using the toilet?

    You can stop it being spread on land though!

    Dreadful, isn’t it – what we don’t know about the dangers of sewage sludge would fill a warehouse.

  3. says

    Better than spreading sewage sludge on land.
    The waste industry is promoting the landspreading of sewage sludge in the UK. However US research has highlighted the fact that it may contain infectious human and animal prions. This puts humans, livestock and wildlife at risk of infection.

    Prion researchers at the University of Wisconsin were given a $100,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant and a $5 million Dept. of Defence grant to research the problem. They have found that Prions can survive for over 3 years in soils.

    Prion diseases include Altzheimers and BSE (Mad Cow Disease) and Prion diseases are always fatal, resulting in TSE’s (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies) Infectious prions have been found in human and animal muscle and organs, saliva, blood, as well as urine and feces (obviously found in raw sewage).

    Prions cannot be destroyed by any sewage treatment process, in fact, they are made more concentrated in the sewage sludge.

    Quotes from Dr. Joel Pedersen, Univ. of Wisconsin, on his prion research:

    “Our results suggest that if prions were to enter municipal waste water treatment systems, most of the agent would partition to activated sludge solids, survive mesophilic anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids. Land application of biosolids containing prions could represent a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results argue for excluding inputs of prions to municipal wastewater treatment.”

    But how could that be achieved? How do you stop someone with Altzheimer’s using the toilet?

    You can stop it being spread on land though!

    Dreadful, isn’t it – what we don’t know about the dangers of sewage sludge would fill a warehouse.

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