Japanese construction and design firm TIS & Partners has just unveiled a strong and surprisingly low-tech brick that can be rapidly produced in disaster areas, and applied to the quick construction of long lasting shelter. Since the brick’s main component is common sand they can be produce in quantity nearly anywhere. The process of making the brick uses carbon dioxide to harden sand and a binder to provide tensile strength. In fact, the inventor claims the bricks are 2.5 times the tensile strength of concrete in one day, meaning that the construction of walls would need much less steel reinforcement and could be used immediately in emergency constructions.
The bricks are created using a very simple process: high silicon content sand is put into an air tight mold that can be virtually any shape. CO2 is pumped into the mold and bonds with the silica to make a solid brick-like material in less than a minute — at this point, the brick is very strong under lateral loads, but still crumbles if stressed under tensile pressure.
The next step is to infuse the bricks with a binder such as epoxy or urethane. Bathing the blocks in the binder creates a hardened block that has all the proper requirements for a strong building component. The brick’s strength is 2.5 times that of concrete in less than 24 hours, which is critical for emergency building and predicted to have a 50 year lifespan.
The finished bricks can also be more easily transported from where they are locally produce to the building site, and thanks to their tensile strength, they can create walls that require little or no added steel reinforcement. The product also has the promise of being a valuable way to sequester carbon.