Lightweight bricks made with luffa and charcoal
Researchers at the Indian School of Design and Innovation in Mumbai developed a lightweight, biodegradable built system made of charcoal, organic luffa fibres, soil and air.
About 8 to 15 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are attributed to concrete manufacturing, which is widely used in construction. Concrete from demolished buildings is often dumped into landfills.
In biophilic spaces, people are happier, patients recover faster, students learn better, sales are higher, etc. The research by the Indian School of Design and Innovation, called Green Charcoal, focuses on the intersection of material innovation and technology that addresses the issue of rising pollution and temperature by developing healthy materials for building construction.
In a blog post by lead researcher Shreyas More, he explains that the biodegradable bricks developed by the team are made up of charcoal, luffa fibres, soil and air, and allow for the growth of living ecosystems of plants and insects on its surface. The aim is to create a breathing state of architecture to ensure increased biodiversity in cities, while providing healthy urban solutions for people.
Luffa (also spelled loofah) is a genus of tropical and subtropical vines in the cucumber family. In a young stage of development, the fruits of the plant are edible. In a later stage, they become too fibrous and can be used as a scrubbing sponge. In the brick, the luffa replaces metal reinforcements found in standard reinforced concrete, providing strength, appropriate flexibility and ensures high porosity. The luffa pores also provide anchorage for plants and hold on to water, reducing the temperature of the brick and therefore providing a cooler interior.
The charcoal, used on the surface of the brick, absorbs nitrates and other impurities from the air, which serve as nutrition for the plants to feed on.
The Green Charcoal material has a 90 per cent reduction in the use of coarse aggregate, and a 4 per cent reduction in cement.
Photos: Shreyas More / Indian School of Design and Innovation