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Better bricks Using Wool and Seaweed?
Having laid handmade mud bricks in Uganda, I have a not-so-secret interest in how building blocks are made, and how they are made more sustainable. The latest material advancement comes from researchers from the University of Seville and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, who have developed a mixture using wool and seaweed that would create a stronger, more long-lasting brick. Authors of the study Carmen Galan and Carlos Rivera state, "The objective was to... obtain a composite that was more sustainable, non-toxic, using abundant local materials, and that would mechanically improve the bricks' strength." The mixture, which uses wool and an "alginate," a natural polymer found in most seaweeds, turns out to produce bricks that are 37 percent stronger than regular unfired red bricks that are common in the US. And while the process for producing and firing regular red bricks is a huge source of pollution, this mixture could draw from locally-sourced materials including repurposed wool from textile manufacturers. The wool also provides an insulative quality, making it great for cold weather applications.