Recycled glass used to make energy-smart bricks

Engineers from RMIT have collaborated with a recycling company to make energy-smart bricks out of recycled material including ash and glass.

Associate Professor Dilan Robert

The bricks are made from at least 15 per cent waste glass and 20 per cent combusted solid waste as substitutes for clay.

As well as reducing energy use because of more efficient insulation, replacing clay with waste materials helps reduce firing temperatures during production, says team leader Professor Dilan Robert.

“Bricks play a key role in preventing energy loss from buildings,” he says.

“Business-as-usual brick production also produces harmful emissions – including carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and chlorine – and puts a serious strain on our natural resources, particularly clay.”

The research, which has previously been published in international construction, civil engineering, and energy journals, demonstrates the energy efficiency of the bricks is enhanced via improved thermal performance, and that they meet structural, durability and environmental sustainability standards.

The technology also meets key compliance requirements of fired clay bricks set by Standards Australia.   

The recycled glass used in the bricks is provided by Visy, which in Victoria  recycles used glass into new bottles and glass.

Pieces smaller than 3mm can’t be recycled into bottles, but they can be repurposed in the bricks.

The energy-smart bricks can be made in a range of colours (Seamus Daniel, RMIT University)

Professor Robert says the team is scaling up its production process and hopes to commercialise the technology in collaboration with local brick manufacturers.

The researchers are alo looking to collaborate with industries to explore applications of waste material in other construction products.  

Main image: Team leader Associate Professor Dilan Robert (third from left) with the RMIT research team behind the energy-smart bricks in a lab at RMIT University (Seamus Daniel, RMIT University

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