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World's First Bio-Brick Made of Urine
University of Cape Town

World's First Bio-Brick Made of Urine

(From left) Dr. Dyllon Randall, honor's student Vukheta Mukhari and master's student Suzanne Lambert. According to the university, while bio-bricks have been made in the United States using synthetic products, Lambert is the first person ever to use real human urine to make a brick.
Photo Credit: University of Cape Town

World's First Bio-Brick Made of Urine

Photo Credit: University of Cape Town

In huge international news, the University of Cape Town, South Africa, unveiled the world's first bio-brick made of human urine. The bricks are created through a process known as microbial carbonate precipitation and are extremely sustainable and ecofriendly, not only because they are mainly made from a largely renewable resource, but also because they can be created at room temperature, as opposed to kiln-fired bricks that produce carbon dioxide emissions upon formation.

In order to make the innovative bricks, loose sand is colonized with bacteria and then mixed into the urine and placed in a mold to harden. The longer the brick sits in the mold, the stronger it becomes.

"If a client wanted a brick stronger than a 40% limestone brick, you would allow the bacteria to make the solid stronger by 'growing' it for longer," said Dr. Dyllon Randall, a senior lecturer in water quality engineering at the university. "The longer you allow the little bacteria to make the cement, the stronger the product is going to be. We can optimize that process."

A news post by the university states that the byproducts of the process are potassium and nitrogen and that this development could have large-scale implications for the waste treatment industry.

Some of the problems the researchers expect to face are acquiring enough urine for this to be feasible, (they currently collect urine from male urinals found at the school and, according to an article by the BBC, it takes 25 to 30 liters of pee to make one brick), social acceptance of the product and transportation/collection of the urine.

But I know what you are thinking, and the answer is "no," the bricks don't smell!

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August 20, 2019, 3:42 am PDT

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