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Bio-Based World News latest stories...

How could a sustainable alternative to bricks revolutionise the construction world?

Posted by Emily O'Dowd on Jan 31, 2017 4:53:15 PM

Sustainable developments to the bPolycare polymer concreteuilding industry have been long awaited. For many years, traditional methods using bricks, cement and mortar have sufficed, but this process is lengthy and labour intensive requiring builders to often use specialised or specific materials. However, now a sustainable alternative could change this. The German entrepreneurs Gerhard Dust and Gunther Plötner have come up with an innovative solution which uses stackable, sand reinforced polyester bricks. The new bricks are made from polyester resin and hardener, which has allowed Plötner to turn ordinary sand into a building materials stronger than normal concrete. What’s more is that the material is highly mouldable to create more complicated shapes. The two co-founders firmly believe that this could be one way to dramatically impact the way that governments tackle housing shortages and how relief agencies tackle homelessness on a world-wide basis.

The idea was first kicked into action in January 2010 when Dust was living in Florida. As we will all remember, a severe earthquake struck Haiti which was just 100 miles away from Dust’s family home. This natural disaster killed 150,000 people and destroyed 200,000 buildings leaving two million homeless. Just four months after the earthquake, Polycare was created. The team started off with less than twelve people, but they were all dedicated to enable disaster victims to quickly build their own homes at a low cost with readily available materials. It was first set up in a former glass factory in Gehlberg, Germany.

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For the past fourteen years PolyCare's COO, Plötner, has researched extensively into new polymer concrete formulas and manufacturing processes. This has led to the company securing numerous patents and utility models associated with PolyCare’s new polymer concrete. Moreover, the construction innovation had to meet German quality standards which took slightly longer than first expected. Polycare's product had to ensure that it could build houses quickly and efficiently before they passed regulation standards.

polycare 2-min (1).jpgThe real breakthrough has been that polymer concrete can be made from a whole range of ‘waste’ materials. Previous examples have included: fly ash from a chemical plant in India, toxic sludge shipped from Russia and waste shot-basting sand from a dockyard maintenance facility. In essence what PolyCare’s COO has been able to show is that outstandingly good quality cement can be made from a whole variety of ‘wastes.’ This will not only benefit those who need to build houses quickly but it will also save landfill space and lower costs.

Polymer concrete is a fairly impenetrable material designed for long term use.

It is:

  • 3-5 times stronger than ordinary concrete
  • 6 times more resistant and completely waterproof
  • Impervious to grease, acid and frost
  • Can be shaped in ways that do not need cementing together

It was fundamentally designed to eliminate the need for a huge import of materials which is harder to obtain in certain regions of the world especially after a natural disaster. Plus, it has sustainable benefits which prevent the use of the highly carbon polluting cement.

Polycare’s company objectives are to deliver 21st century technology to the construction world to enable building to be completed to a quicker and higher standard than ever seen before.

Read Bio-Based World Quarterly #4 


For more bio-based construction stories, you might be interested in:

Bricks from bacteria? How bio-based is reshaping traditional building.

The house that bio-based built: growing African construction.

Stranger than fiction; the world's first 3D printed house.

How LEGO are investing in the building blocks of a sustainable business.

Returning bio-based construction materials back to mainstream use.

Topics: BBWNFeatures