Cheap, Sustainable Bricks Made from Cow Blood

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Image courtesy Sanguis et Pulvis

You can’t get blood from a stone, but you might get a brick from blood.

In his final semester at the University of Westminster in London, architecture student Jack Munro created an experimental building material by mixing cows' blood with a preservative (to prevent bacterial and fungal growth) and sand and then baking it in a mold, so that the blood coagulates and holds the sand in a stable and waterproof brick.

While the idea of building walls of blood might make some stomachs turn, Munro says that the bricks have a lot going for them. They make use of cows' blood—which is abundant after cattle are slaughtered—instead of treating it as waste; the only other materials needed are sand and the preservative. They’re also easy to make, and the blood coagulates at a low enough temperature that the bricks don’t even have to be baked in an oven. They can simply be left out in the sun in dry, hot climates.

Once the process for making them is perfected, Munro hopes that the blood bricks can provide a cheap and sustainable alternative to conventional building materials, especially in underdeveloped countries.

He’s thought beyond the bricks themselves and also laid out ideas for a brick-making facility in Siwa, Egypt, where agriculture has been decimated by changes to the Sahara desert. A blood brick factory could be built there, he says, by spreading an animal-blood-based glue over a sand dune and then letting the sand “migrate.” The shifting sands would leave behind a blood shell and an interior that could be excavated, strengthened, and then occupied by cattle sheds, a slaughterhouse, and a brick manufacturing area.

You can see Munro’s experiments in brick making and his layout for the facility at his website.

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December 4, 2012 - 9:00am
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