Sandbag 2.0 – meet the Sand Brick
By Grant Banks
November 14, 2010
Floods are an inevitable part of life and the standard line of defense is the humble sandbag. While having applications in emergency relief, engineering and military environments, their design has remained relatively unchanged since the 18th Century. That is until now.
Sandbags difficult to work with. They are heavy, hard to fill and need to be carefully placed generally at a three wide to one high ratio to form a stable wall. After three centuries of use, it's clear that this critically important piece of kit is in need of a redesign. That is where Sand Brick Technologies has stepped up to the plate.
The first area for improvement was the most annoying design flaw of the average sandbag, the mouth. The opening of a normal sandbag is two inches (5cm) smaller than an average shovel blade. This makes sandbags very hard to fill. "It was one of those 'Oh Duh' moments", John Powell CEO of Sand Brick Technologies said. "We made the opening two inches wider than a shovel, I don't know why nobody thought of it before.”
The next step in creating the Sand Brick was to angle the ends of the bags like a keystone, letting all the bags interlock increasing wall strength. Bags were color coded, one side blue the other yellow so that the wall can be constructed by volunteers after little instruction. The surface of the bags have been textured to provide grip which the designers say is one of keys to its stability. Another intelligent yet simple design improvement was the rectangle brick shape of the Sand Brick further adding to stability.
Tradition sandbags form a cylinder when filled. While the required width-to-height ratio for a conventional sandbag wall is three-to-one, walls built with Sand Bricks can be stacked at two-to-one. Sand Bricks also need 25lbs of sand to fill while regular sandbags take around 40 lbs making them less of a back-breaker. This means less bags, less sand and less labor.
The bag is also made from a solid sheet of plastic not woven plastic like regular bags, preventing contaminated flood water from getting in. Conventional sandbags are taken to landfill after use because of industrial pollution and sewage accumulating in the sand.
So with a handful of intelligent innovations Sand Brick Technologies has come up with a design that will make building temporary sandbag walls, or more correctly Sand Brick walls, faster, easier, safer and with less waste going to landfill.