BioMason grown brick

BioMason: The brick that is grown instead of burnt

Inside the percentages of contamination in our environment and specially Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 40% is held accountable for the global construction industry. Sustainable construction in my personal opinion, should be of first importance when addressing design and construction. Green Construction certainly involves synergies between building systems, the natural environment, human  behavior, indoor environmental quality, water, site and of course materials.

IMG_0500Materials selection is as important as site selection and orientation and as we know it, synergistically speaking, everything in a building is connected, working in team in a closed system and it is a reason to take into account the amount of contamination we keep providing the environment by using the incorrect materials.

Contamination by industrial manufacturing of materials is a task to look at. Concrete manufacturing emits and enormous amount of carbon dioxide to the environment, a material we have been using since Roman ages perhaps. That is the amount of contamination per time we have contributed to the environment and the brick traditional manufacture is no different.

The manufacture of concrete, one of the most energy intensive materials, uses limestone shale converted into Portland cement through high-heat processes. Global cement production in 2008 amounted 2.8 billion tons, with equivalent quantities of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Both concrete and clay manufacturing include energy intensive processes for raw material extraction, transportation, and fuel sources for heating kilns.

Nonetheless, there are solutions addressing this situation today. Our friends at bioMason have come up with an idea that contributes to a positive change providing a construction material, completely sustainable and what is best: completely grown!

A start-up led by Architect/Scientist Ginger Krieg Dosier, who engaged into this task of achieving a more sustainable product, has clearly succeeded with BioMason brick with a research that hasn’t stopped there.

TEAM_BIO_2Biomineralization

Manufacturing or better yet “growing” bioMason bricks uses the process of biomineralization, which practically eliminates the use of energy, something similar to hydroponics as the company explains:

“The process of growing bricks is similar to hydroponics- whereby units mixed with the microorganism are fed an aqueous solution to harden the bricks to specification. Traditional bricks are formed in brick units and then fired for hardening. bioMASON’s process simply eliminates the need for firing by replacing the curing/hardening process with the formation of biologically controlled structural cement.”

What about the resistance of this brick? How does it compare to traditional bricks, you might be asking?

BioMason’s grown bricks are comparable in strength to calcite-cemented sandstone. The combination of biomass, aggregate, nutrients, minerals, and bacteria to produce a natural bio-cement. It takes less than three days in ambient temperatures to grow a precast brick through the process of Bio-mineralization, one similar to the formation of corals when the fixation between calcium carbonate and mineralization occurs. A process where no waste and no contamination occurs, where natural agents get combined and react to produce a new sustainable product.

Award winning bioMason’s brick, which recently entered into the 15 semifinalists of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for 2015, and without a doubt it is a product that is environmentally positive. Many of the great characteristics of the brick provided on BioMASON’s website, read as follows:

  • Made in ambient temperatures, no CO2 emissions, minimal dependency on natural fossil fuels, and can be made on site.
  • No waste in manufacturing
  • Environmental points
  • Product customization
  • Additive material performance such as increased insulation
  • Nutrients and minerals required in the process are obtained from natural, renewable sources, but may also be extracted from industrial waste streams.

All images curtesy of BioMASON®

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.