Most of us prefer not to think about what happens after we flush the loo.
But where most see waste, researchers from RMIT University saw an incredible opportunity for sustainability.
They’ve hit a brick wall – literally – showing how treated sewage, or biosolids, can be turned into cheaper and more environmentally friendly construction materials.
Australia produces around 327,000 tonnes of biosolid waste, a lot of it ending up as landfill or contributing to “sewage sludge stockpiles”.
Around 30 per cent of the world’s biosolids are stockpiled or sent to landfill, using up valuable land and potentially emitting greenhouse gases, creating a major environmental challenge.
All of which makes a compelling case for moving that material into more productive uses. That’s where the RMIT team comes in.
The team’s biosolid bricks are impressively strong and can be produced using around half the energy required for a standard brick.
They also boast better insulating properties, potentially giving buildings a better environmental performance.
The world consumes three billion cubic metres of clay soil per year, mined to manufacture 1.5 trillion bricks, says RMIT Associate Professor Abbas Mohajerani.
“Using biosolids in bricks could be the solution to these big environmental challenges,” he says.
“It’s a practical and sustainable proposal for recycling the biosolids currently stockpiled or going to landfill around the globe.”
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