University of Cape Town researcher Suzanne Lambert has created a zero-waste building material made with human urine, which hardens at room temperature, as an alternative to environmentally taxing kiln-fired bricks . Lambert, a masters student in civil engineering, used recovered human waste and living bacteria to make the bricks, which can be fabricated in different sizes, shapes and strengths. She believes the bio-bricks could be a real alternative to traditional bricks, which are heated at temperatures of more than 1,000 degree Celsius, producing huge carbon dioxide emissions. "I see so much potential for the process’s application in the real world," said Lambert. "I can’t wait for when the world is ready for it." The bio-bricks have been developed by a researcher at the University of Cape Town The process utilised is called microbial carbonate precipitation, which Lambert’s supervisor at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Dyllon Randall, likens to "the way seashells are formed". Human urine, loose sand and a bacteria that produces the enzyme urease are combined in a brick-shaped mould. The urease triggers a chemical reaction, breaking down the urea in urine, while producing calcium carbonate — aka limestone, the main component of cement. This solidifies the […]

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