More than 1.5 trillion bricks are produced all over the world every year.
Though there are no official statistics of brick houses in Kenya, fired bricks made from clay are some of the most popular building materials in the country besides stones and mud. To make these bricks, clay is compressed to form blocks and then air dried before being burnt in makeshift kilns to harden them permanently in a process that consumes a lot of firewood.
The firing process consumes fossil fuel and is responsible for approximately 800 million tons of global carbon dioxide emissions every year.
But bricks can now be grown using a bacteria.
The inventor of the technology, Ginger Krieg Dosier, an American architect, is using the bioMASON bricks that eliminate the need for fossil fuels for firing and thereby drastically reduces the carbon footprint for construction.
BioMASON’s technology combines micro-organisms with locally available materials to produce bricks in just a few days, and with a smaller environmental impact.
Her invention is listed among the top 100 Sustainable Solutions in the world. The technology was featured in the annual Sustainia100 publication that showcases 100 of the most innovative solutions from every corner of the globe that are working to create a cleaner, greener future and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.
BioMASON’s technology injects sand with microorganisms at ambient temperatures to grow bio-cement-based construction materials.
The technology mimics the production of coral reefs by using energy from micro-organisms and nutrient water to grow bricks in a matter of days.
“The process of growing bricks is similar to hydroponics- whereby units mixed with the microorganism are fed an aqueous solution to harden the bricks to specification. Traditional bricks are formed in brick units and then fired for hardening,” the firm explains.
bioMASON’s process simply eliminates the need for firing by replacing the curing/hardening process with the formation of biologically controlled structural cement.
Traditional clay bricks are fired for three to four days to harden them. Without the need for firing, bioMASON’s technology yields energy savings and eliminates the cost of fossil fuels used for firing.
BioMASON bricks can be produced on-site, using locally available materials, and the company will license its technology to local contractors to grow the bricks themselves. The bricks are certified and tested to be as strong and long-lasting as conventional bricks.
Though this technology is yet to be widely adopted in Africa, it is the latest invention after the interlocking of bricks imported from India.
Houses built using interlocking bricks technology are not only cheap, but use fewer materials and manpower.
They are also easier to maintain than those made using quarry bricks, in addition to being environmentally friendly