South Africa makes the first brick of human urine in the world



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urine, bio-brick, ekobrik

Dr. Dyllon Randall, one of the developers of the first bio-brick in the world, uses human urine as one of the linking components. Picture: Rodger BOSCH / AFP

One day when nature calls, your urine could be better used than to empty it after looju.

Instead, it could be a key ingredient in building a greener office or a new home.

In one of the latest innovations in finding environmentally friendly building materials, South African university researchers have created bricks using human urine.

The first of its kind in the world, biotech, hope, expect a sustainable alternative to standard clay and concrete bricks.

Prototypes were "grown" from the urine using techniques that are somewhat similar to the natural formation of bivalve molluscs, and formed within six to eight days.

The revolutionary invention is the idea of ​​two students of the University of Cape Town and a lecturer.

With the donation of the Government's Water Research Council, a feasibility study last year was introduced with a synthetic device. And then the study went over to the use of human urine.

"I was always curious to know why not using urine to do the same thing," said AFP lecturer Dyllon Randall, who oversaw one of the two students.

"The simple answer is:" Yes, you can. ""

A year later they successfully completed their first bio-brick in the laboratory.

By means of a natural process known as the precipitation of microbial carbonates, urine, sand and bacteria are mixed to make bricks.

The research is still in the early days. So far, it takes up to 30 liters (eight US gallons) of urine to make only one brick with urine by male students at the university through a special urinal.

"In fact, we made the first bio-brick from the right urine," said Randall.

"This process is incredible, because we essentially did it to produce bricks at room temperature."

The first three bricks are on display. They are gray heavy blocks and do not differ from standard limestone.

Copying natural processes of nature

Suzanne Lambert, Master of Civil Engineers, is surprised how the team copied the "natural processes of nature" in order to create a sustainable way of building.

"This process imitates the way the coral is formed and natural processes produce cement," she said.

Conventional bricks or bricks are produced in ovens where they are dried at 1,400 degrees Celsius (2,500 degrees Celsius), a process that causes large carbon dioxide emissions.

By contrast, bio-bricks are "grown" through gentle sand, which is seized with bacteria that produce an enzyme called urease.

The incision reacts with urine in urine to produce a cement-like sandblast compound.

The product can be molded in any shape and dried at room temperature – without oven, without greenhouse gas emissions.

"We take something that is considered a waste stream, like urine, and we use it in a completely sustainable process," said Randall.

And for those who are dealing with the smell of urines that pass from the walls, it's good news that the brick does not smell. A strong odor of ammonia from urine dissolves after a few days of drying.

Another researcher, Vukheta Mukhari, said that the strength of the brick can be adapted to specific construction requirements, but those that have been elaborated so far are "as strong as the usual bricks found on the market."

Bio-bricks are already manufactured in the US, but they use synthetic forms of urine.

They are the first to use natural human waste.

Will a bio-burner replace a standard clay or concrete mate for one day?

The key factor is the price, but at this very early stage of development there were no attempts to research costs.

"We are still far from being commercialized as a comprehensive system," Randall warned, but said there were many opportunities to increase efficiency.

"We currently need 20 to 30 liters to make one standard brick, which sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that about 90 percent of the urine is actually water," said Randall.

"We are looking for a reduction in the amount of urine we need to produce one brick, and I'm sure that in the next few years there will be far better results." NVG

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