Ecobrique — Building With Sewage

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While flicking or rather clicking through Core 77 the other day I came across the Ecobrique. It sounded interesting, but the explanation was vague at best, ‘bricks which incorporate waste treatment plant residue in the clay matrix.’ Unfortunately the company’s website is only in french, so being the curious TreeHugger that I am, and in the hope that I could explain the Ecobrique to you, the TH reader, I asked them for an English translation. And this is what I’ve understood so far : The french company vBc 3000 has patented a process of making ceramic products from sewage sludge. Partially dried sewage sludge is mixed with clay to create bricks or expanded clay aggregates, such as lightweight concrete. The bricks can be fired in traditional kilns and the clay aggregates made in the rotary furnaces that they use in cement factories. The resulting materials are lightweight and as durable as traditional building materials. So far so good. vBc also tell us that the cost of using sewage sludge to create ceramic building materials is competitive in comparison with the costs of other disposal methods such as incineration, composting or tipping. So the positive aspects are already clear in the productive reusage of sewage sludge and the resulting lightweight material. The next part is a bit harder to translate into layman’s terms, so I haven’t tried, they explain that, ‘During the firing, the mineralization of sewage sludge organic matter creates porosity and expansion in materials. It lightens them and it confers to them good properties of heat insulation and soundproofing. Moreover, the mineralization of sewage sludge organic matter is exothermic and reduces the energy consumption during the firing of the ceramic materials.’

The Ecobrique won the Innovation prize at the French Mayors and Local Communities trade fair in November 2004, and was nominated for the European Environmental Press prize in 2005. The first commercial production of the Ecobrique is due to start in 2007. via: Core 77 :: vBc 3000 (site only in French but will they can email a document in English on request.)

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