One of the problems with concrete construction is that it is not designed for deconstruction; Taking it apart is slow, noisy, dusty and labor intensive. Omer Haciomeroglu wants to change all that; the student at Sweden's Umea Institute of Design just won gold for his concrete recycling robot. The designer writes:
ERO uses water jets to crack the concrete surface to disassemble concrete and sucks up the mixed debris. It cleanly separates the waste mixture and packages the cleaned material. What was previously waste, now turns into labeled packaged asset to be transferred right away into concrete pre-casting stations to be re-molded into new building blocks. No dust, no waste, no separation. Only clean bags of aggregate to be re-used and rust and dust free rebar to be cut and re-used directly.
The device uses water under high pressure, called hydro-demolition or waterblasting; this is often used today to strip concrete from the top of rebar for rehabilitation projects. Unlike other demo techniques, it doesn't create a lot of vibration that might damage other parts of the building, and it doesn't wreck the reinforcing bars. The water is then separated from the aggregate with a "centrifugal decanter", so that the aggregate can be bagged for the next job and the water reused.
The whole thing is mounted on a robot so that rolls around on omni-directional tracks. Clever. Omer describes its operations:
An autonomous fleet of ERO Concrete Recycling Robots is placed strategically within the building. They scan the surroundings and determine a route with which they will execute during the operation. Once ERO starts working, it literally erases the building.
I have been watching the demolition of this handsome brutalist building in Toronto this past spring, how they carefully take it down floor by floor, it has been a sad and slow process. I am not sure I am excited about how easy Omer's robot might make it to erase these things.