In Northern Ireland, Castles were constructed with stones mortared together from beach sand, slaked lime and blood. They are still standing after 700+ years in very harsh salt water environment. Egg Tempre has been used as a visual art's medium for several hundred years by many fine artist. Many binding agents can bee found in nature to produce near permanent structures. Termite mounds can withstand both extreme heat and wind with nothing more then secretions.
12th February, 2014 @ 9:53 a.m. (California Time)
That does not sound normal; making stools out of urine.
12th February, 2014 @ 11:12 a.m. (California Time)
Blood! I guess that must have been "donated" by workers who collapsed, or the old and infirm. :o) Easier, and friendlier, to give them lots of beer to drink, and harvest the processed excretions. Also, slaked lime is hardly benign, so this is probably an improvement. Calcium carbonate is just chalk, though, so I wonder what binds this stuff, too; he handled the finished block very gently. The microbial action must bind it somehow.
And the termites, yes, as well as various birds, bees, and amphibians. I love that the bio-mimicry movement has gotten so large. Very exciting.
12th February, 2014 @ 12:27 p.m. (California Time)
I first saw this idea in a ted talk by Magnus Larsson, he wanted to adapt this process to build a 'great wall' across Africa to halt Sahara desert spread.
while not a new idea, i like the bricks, and would like to see some tested to destruction under a compression strength testing system. i especially like the shape, i can see it being used for bricking building walls, both in vertical and horizontal alignment.
12th February, 2014 @ 3:13 p.m. (California Time)
Sounds like the "good old days" of collecting urine door-to-door fo the tanning industry!
I suppose it is a bit better than the needy visiting blood banks and selling a pint or two for money.
Have a few beers and sell your pint or three and help build something!
12th February, 2014 @ 4:14 p.m. (California Time)
Harriet it states calcium chloride not calcium carbonate in the article.
12th February, 2014 @ 7:33 p.m. (California Time)
Cutting edge is fine and dandy at the tip, but here is something for those who delve into first principals deep in the root. I like this because it addresses the root of things and concrete is a root thing.
12th February, 2014 @ 11:51 p.m. (California Time)
I wonder what the chances are of this replacing current cement production technology. As things are, cement production is a major producer of the greenhouse gas, CO2.
Unfortunately, it would take a lot of fossil fuel energy, with consequent CO2 production, to convert to any radically new technology, such as this, so it is not all good news.
13th February, 2014 @ 3:39 a.m. (California Time)
Three years ago I published a book called A SEVEN THOUSAND YEAR HISTORY OF CONCRETE*. One section of the book dealt with the use of concrete on the Moon. Obviously there is plenty of sand on the Moon and now they have a perfectly good use for the urine of the 'lunatics' who settle there.
*Quantuck Lane/ WWNorton Press
13th February, 2014 @ 9:20 a.m. (California Time)
When EAWAG, the leading Swiss water research institute near Zurich got a new building they installed toilets which separate urine from solids. The technology exists and is feasible at least for larger buildings which have enough flow to create a waste stream.
13th February, 2014 @ 9:22 a.m. (California Time)
While it might sound fun to down a few pints and head to the can, that does not commercialize well. Perhaps partnering with dairy farms or feedlots would provide more substantial volume and take care of some of the stench.
Bruce H. Anderson
13th February, 2014 @ 9:41 a.m. (California Time)
Wow people are just Silly. The blood for the mortar in the old castles came from animals who get slaughtered and drained as daily food production waste not want not. Millions of gallons of blood just goes down the drain every day currently.
Mel Tisdale It would cost very little to switch or in corporate this tech as the chemicals needed are cheap and currently produced on industrial scales so the market just grows jobs are created or transfered from one industry to the next and all is fine with the world.
13th February, 2014 @ 9:42 a.m. (California Time)
"A solution of calcium chloride, urea and nutrient broth is then pumped into the mold."
Urea, nut urine. Urine has urea in it, along with a lot of other chemicals and compounds.
13th February, 2014 @ 5:46 p.m. (California Time)
@ Mel Tisdale
If increasing levels of C02 is causing the earth to warm why is 2013 the year with the highest directly measured atmospheric C02 levels not the warmest on record?
14th February, 2014 @ 12:52 a.m. (California Time)
The hottest year on record is scheduled for this year. 2013 is "only" tied for seventh-hottest, since 1880. http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-2013-nasa-2013-7th-hottest-year-20140121,0,2770402.story#axzz2tKdDJYiT
Climate change is not linear. Warmer temperatures create new and sometimes unforeseen climactic responses, such as the new oceanic heat sink in the Pacific that was recently featured here in Gizmag. So, gross temperature changes over a short time, and a decade or two is a very short time when it comes to climate, will not always be linear, except in the longer trends, where this global rise is incontrovertible.
Besides, raw temperature is only one of many indicators pointing toward an impending catastrophic climate change. The one that should be freaking you out right now is ocean acidification. If ocean water pH swings much further than it already has, any hope that we'll ever have of drawing down our CO2 load to a sustainable level will be gone, as will most of the human race when there's no more food to eat.
If you're seriously interested in the hard scientific facts about our changing climate, from a deep historical perspective and to many many decimal points, along with some excellent lay-level explanation about how they all interact with positive and negative feedback loops, there's no better source than Dr. William H. Calvin's 2008 book, "Global Fever." But, if the facts don't matter to you, there's no point.
From Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
SLARTIBARTFAST: Science has achieved some wonderful things, I know, but I'd far rather be happy than right any day.
ARTHUR DENT: And are you?
SLARTIBARTFAST: No. That's where it all falls down, of course.
ARTHUR DENT: Pity, it sounded like rather a good lifestyle otherwise.
14th February, 2014 @ 1:17 p.m. (California Time)
The earth has been warming since the middle of the 1600s and the peak of the Little Ice Age why should we panic about it now.
To quote you, "Climate change is not linear. Warmer temperatures create new and sometimes unforeseen climactic responses, such as the new oceanic heat sink in the Pacific that was recently featured here in Gizmag." but we must panic based on a liner model of global warming?
The history of doom and gloom predictions have a long and appalling history of making the predictor rich while the predictions have universally failed to be accurate.
16th February, 2014 @ 10:51 p.m. (California Time)
You can make real cement from power-plant flue-gas.
But a better solution would not burn carbon to make steam to convert heat to electricity. Use Thorium for that until we get useful Boron-Proton reactors with MHD conversion.
17th February, 2014 @ 10:03 a.m. (California Time)
Using microbes to form calcium carbonate (i.e. shell) in sand to form bricks isn't new. It seems Dupe is more elaborate than say just adding water and calcium carbonate producing organisms to dirt. I guess people just like the idea of utilizing their piss.
18th February, 2014 @ 12:50 a.m. (California Time)
Greenland is called Greenland because when the Vikings discovered it, it was green, a bit like Ireland. It was not called Whiteland. People skated on the Thames a couple of centuries ago.
The climate on earth has been changing back and forth between warm and cool since it was formed. Why is it that today we are blessed with millions of King Canutes? It is how it is. Find something to worry about that's worth the effort.
18th February, 2014 @ 9:42 a.m. (California Time)
No Peejay, you are guessing. While Greenland has had green coasts in the south for a while, there is no evidence that it was completely green, so your point is invalid. Furthermore, we know that, while the climate obviously changes on its own, it is possible to affect the factors that affect the climate. One of these factors is the level of carbon dioxide in the air. By our emissions we are therefore heating up the thin layer that we live on, disrupting climate cycles at an unprecedented rate (if you disregard meteor impact or massive volcanism, as you should). Reports of skating on the Thames are also completely irrelevant as well.
Great article, by the way.
19th February, 2014 @ 5:59 p.m. (California Time)
@slowburn By quoting such skewed pseudofacts you have revealed that you are not really interested in debate. Everything that you mention has been addressed by www.skepticalscience.com. If you still have a point after reading that, then you can talk. Yes, I know that the curator is not a climate scientist, but he quotes them and peer-reviewed papers.
19th February, 2014 @ 6:11 p.m. (California Time)
The strength reported on DeZeen is 2,400psi (or 16.6MPa - no details on how this was measured). Not sure why they are using US units. An ordinary low grade structural concrete would have a cylinder strength of 4,000psi. Could be useful in some domestic uses, but not really as a direct replacement for concrete for high-rises unless he can get the strength up. I wonder what the density is.
20th February, 2014 @ 7:11 a.m. (California Time)
This was a very interesting article, and reading the responses has been equally interesting. FYI, One of the traditional sources for slaked lime is baked (calcined) bone. Calcined pig bone was used for the plaster of the Alhambra, in Spain. Urine was used traditionally as a hardening agent in adobe plasters in Mexico.
As noted urine was also used by the tanning industry in Europe, and it was also used as a bleach.
On the use of blood in building, the red barns of the eastern USA were originally painted red by blending cow blood with cow milk to make a very durable paint.
11th March, 2014 @ 6:53 p.m. (California Time)