Growing Eco-friendly Bricks with Sand and Bacteria

Start-up company BioMason is currently working towards a debut of a new kind of eco-friendly brick ‘grown’ with sand and bacteria. Based in North Carolina, they have already won numerous green construction industry awards for their innovative concept.

The construction industry currently accounts for around 40% of work emissions. Used in over 80% of building construction projects, bricks are a large contributor to this, generating approximately 800 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year, which more than the amount produced by all the planes in the world each year. That is a lot of pollution from one relatively simple material. BioMason hopes to change this.

The founder and CEO of this innovative company is Ginger Krieg Dosier. An architect by background, she has long been inspired by the process of biomimicry. The inspiration for these bricks came from her study of coral reefs and the process of calcification that leads to their build up. BioMason’s eco-friendly bricks also use the natural process of calcification to gain their structure and strength. To create the bricks, sand is put into a mold and then inoculated with bacteria (Sporasarcina pasteurii). These bacteria are fed with calcium ions suspended in the water. The ions are attracted to the cell walls of the bacteria, creating in a calcium carbonate shell and the basis for a strong brick.

Unlike traditional bricks that requiring days of firing and produce large amounts of emissions as a result, BioMason’s biological bricks are grown in only two to three days – and they are emission free. As an added bonus, Krieg Dosier adds that the bricks can actually even absorb pollution and include other characteristics such as glow in the dark and colour change properties.

You can watch an inspiriting TED talk from CEO Ginger Krieg Dosier here.