Sustainable bricks like the coral reef

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A US startup has developed a process to create masonry material inspired by corals.

On the one hand, a wall. On the other, the reef. Similar functions, different lives: while the first is a symbol, often a negative one, for division and overbuilding, the second represents by definition the strength and beauty of nature. Today, however, somebody is trying to overcome the differences between the two, taking inspiration from corals to sustainably produce bricks.

The building materials company that “grows” bricks and masonry material from scratch without any heat-based process is called BioMason, an American startup from North Carolina. BioMason set out to revolutionize an enormously energy-intensive industry using a million-year old process to get the same result.

Typically, bricks are made from sand and clay in kilns at about 2,000°C: an expensive process that requires a lot of energy and harms the environment.

The system used by BioMason is completely different: the company injects microorganisms into the sand to start a process that is very similar to the one leading to the creation of corals. This technique requires 4 days and allows to create bricks whose quality an consistence are perfectly compatible with all commercial applications.

BioMason is a relatively new actor in a highly competitive market, and it keeps looking for investments, with a considerable success. The next step for the company will be to move to a new structure, where it will be possible to produce 5,000 bricks every two days, a low number for industrial standards but still a significant step forward for the small and young company.

About 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions come from the production of bricks, according to the estimates of the US Environmental Protection Agency. The industry of sustainable building materials – which includes materials created with green processes and those with low use of resources during their life cycle – is currently worth $ 36.1 billion and is expected to increase by 10.6% by 2020, according to the IBISWorld research institute.

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