Innovation of the Week: Bio-bricks
What is it? Bricks made of human urine
Innovators University of Cape Town engineering students
What were they thinking? We’ve built our civilization brick by brick. But bricks, like our civilization, aren’t very good for the planet. They’re baked in high-temperature kilns that throw off lots of carbon, contributing to global warming. But a group of South African engineering students may have come up with a solution: bricks made of human urine, sand, and bacteria that require no baking at all.
Did it work? The bricks, which take four to six days to form, are rock hard. But there is some unpleasantness involved: They smell. “Say you had a pet and it peed in the corner, and you have that strong smell — that’s ammonia being released,” Dyllon Randall, the students’ supervisor, told the BBC. “This process produces ammonia as a by-product.” The ammonia, though, is converted into a fertilizer. And the bricks lose their scent after about 48 hours.