Wool & Seaweed Makes Sustainable Brick Stronger

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Could wool be the new future for a more sustainable brick? It may very well be, as researchers from Spain's University of Seville and Glasgow's University of Strathclyde have found by creating a stronger, unfired brick that combines wool fibres with a seaweed extract. According to Carmen Galán and Carlos Rivera, authors of the study published in the journal Construction and Building Materials:

The objective was to produce bricks reinforced with wool and to obtain a composite that was more sustainable, non-toxic, using abundant local materials, and that would mechanically improve the bricks' strength.

Amazingly, with the added wool and alginate (a natural polymer found in seaweed) the researchers' mechanical tests discovered that this new brick was 37% stronger than regular unfired, stablized earth bricks:

These fibres improve the strength of compressed bricks, reduce the formation of fissures and deformities as a result of contraction, reduce drying time and increase the bricks' resistance to flexion.

With over 9 billion ordinary bricks manufactured annually, brick-making is a major source of pollution. So like many other fascinating alternative bricks (like this urine and sand brick), this woolly, seaweedy brick is another step in the right direction: it's a zero-carbon product, has a leg-up in the strength department and it's also locally-sourced. The clay-based soils were given by brick manufacturers in Scotland, while the wool was repurposed from local textile suppliers -- resulting in a brick that (like a warm sweater) is well-suited for a cold, damp climate.

via Science Daily