Sunday, March 13, 2016

Would you live in a house made of sand and bacteria? It's a surprisingly good idea

From:  CNN




<strong>Had enough of concrete blocks?</strong> The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Peter Trimble found his formula through trial and error. A design student at the University of Edinburgh, he was aiming to produce an artistic exhibition for a module on sustainability, when he stumbled on "Dupe," a living alternative to concrete. 

A lab technician introduced Trimble to Sporosarcina pasteurii, a bacterium with binding qualities, sometimes used to solidify soil to hold road signs in place. The student tested it with one of the world's most abundant resources - sand. Pumping bacterial solution into a sand-filled mould, he added nutrients, urea derived from urine as fertilizer and calcium. After a year, and hundreds of failed experiments, this process manufactured a stool around 70% the compression strength of concrete. 

The process requires less than one-sixth of the energy used in concrete production, and is completely biodegradable. Crucially, Trimble believes his mechanism has the added benefit that it could be employed by anyone, anywhere.MORE