Eco-BLAC Bricks: Sustainable masonry from industrial waste

For centuries, the clay fired brick has been the most popular building material in India due to its local availability and low cost. However, negative environmental and social impacts surrounding its production have raised concerns about its future use. At the same time, India is experiencing a growth in industry, and a number of industrial wastes are being generated which are often disposed of in harmful ways to the population and the environment.

The aim of this research is to solve both problems by recycling industrial waste into masonry construction materials. The primary industrial waste which will be utilized is boiler ash, a byproduct of combustion during energy production at small- and medium-sized factories. Currently, this ash has no application due to its variability in physical and chemical properties, and is landfilled at great expense to both the environment and factory owners. For this reason we see opportunity in creating a robust design which can account for these variabilities by using alkali-activation technology.

We are striving to create a product which is both economically and environmentally sustainable. Our low-cost masonry units can be made with reduced energy demands, a smaller carbon footprint, and less natural resource consumption than traditional masonry. This solution is scalable all over India, as there are factories producing boiler ash throughout the country. Current work is being done in Muzaffarnagar, U.P., where we are partnering with the owner of a paper mill to implement a pilot plant on site.

AWARD: Eco-BLAC Bricks was an award-winning finalist in the 2015 MIT $100K Accelerate Entrepreneurship competition, and was named one of the the top innovations of 2015 by Mashable.

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