So, bricks. How much time have you ever spent thinking about bricks? Unless you’ve built your own house, I’m guessing the subject has hardly ever crossed your mind. This means that you’d probably be somewhat surprised to find out that bricks are used in over 80 percent of global construction. I say ‘somewhat surprised’ because it isn’t a truly mind-boggling statistic is it? Ok, let’s try this one: 1.23 trillion bricks are produced every year. A little bit more impressing if only due to the word “trillion”, right? Alright, then here’s for the real slam-dunk: producing all these bricks creates 800 million tons of carbon emissions worldwide on a yearly basis. Why? Because bricks need to be “fired”. 

Back in 2010, Metropolis Magazine initiated an award called “Next Generation ‘The Big Fix’” where contestants needed to submit a proposal to “grow” bricks rather than “fire” them. Inspired by the way coral reefs grow in the ocean, Ginger Dosier’s proposal won the award. Backed by the enormous positive reactions, she then continued to found bioMASON.

BioMASON is a manufacturing company trying to create an easy, scalable process where bricks can basically be homegrown, revolutionizing the building and construction industry. It’s a complicated process that mixes different bacteria with loose aggregate (like sand or gravel) to produce a natural cement. The process is actually similar to what happens in nature over thousands of years, but bioMASON has modified and compressed it in such a way that a brick takes between two to five days to make. Traditional clay bricks take between three and five days, by comparison.

BioMASON’s pilot plant in Durham, North Carolina, currently produces about 500 bricks per week, but can scale up to 1500 a week. “As a company, we’re not here to necessarily make the bricks, we’re here to make the process so that our manufacturing licensees can make the bricks.” BioMASON is currently looking at a powder or syrup that can easily be shipped around the world, requiring the manufacturer only to add water in order to grow bricks.

And so, with the clever use of technology, bacteria and microorganisms, bioMASON aims to reduce the need for fossil fuels in the construction industry by offering an economically viable and biological-based alternative.

Source: The Optimist