Spain – Researchers at the University of JaÃ©n in Spain have developed a method to create bricks by mixing pulp and sludge residues from the paper industry with ceramic material used in the construction industry.
The scientists began by collecting recycled cellulous waste from a paper factory, together with sludge from waste water purification. Both are subsequently mixed with clay, upon which the mixture passes through a pressure and extrusion machine to yield a single, long strand of material which is then sliced into individual bricks currently measuring 3 cm by 1 cm by 6 cm. Tests already conducted suggest larger-dimension bricks retain the same promising properties.
‘Adding waste means that the end product has low thermal conductivity and is therefore a good insulator,’ explains university researcher Carmen MartÃnez. Additionally, this approach circumvents the need for traditional raw materials. The fact that the brick prototypes contain organic materials also means that they could provide energy at a later stage.
However, Mrs MartÃnez acknowledges that the recycled bricks have a notable ‘Achilles heel’ compared to conventional counterparts, namely lower mechanical resistance. Although this is still well above the legal minimum, she admits adherence and shaping of bricks containing high percentages of paper waste still pose a challenge.
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