Bricks Made from Paper Waste

Researchers from the University of Jaen (Spain) have created a new way to mix paper waste with a ceramic material in order to make bricks, resulting in a durable product that can act as a good insulator.

The scientists at the University of Jaen collected cellulous waste from a paper factory, along with sludge from the purification of its waste water. The researchers then mixed the material with clay that is used in construction, and passed the mixture through a pressure and extrusion machine to obtain bricks.

"Adding waste means that the end product has low thermal conductivity and is therefore a good insulator," explains Carmen Martínez, researcher at the University of Jaen. "In addition to the resulting benefit of using these bricks instead of their traditional counterparts made of traditional raw materials."

Another advantage of adding waste to the brick prototypes is that they provide energy due to their organic material content, which could help reduce fuel consumption and kiln time required for brick production. The current prototype's dimensions are small (3 x 1 x 6 cm), but the team has already tested larger bricks with similar results.

"On the whole, this technique could bring about a saving in energy and raw materials for brick factories along with environmental benefits from the use of waste that is initially discarded," adds Martínez.

The researcher recognizes that these bricks have lower mechanical resistance than traditional bricks, despite the fact that the prototype’s parameter is above the legal minimum. There are still a few problems to solve in the adherence and shaping of those pieces that have high percentages of paper waste.

The team continues in their search for the happy medium between sustainability and material resistance and is still researching the advantages of adding other products, such as sludge from water treatment plants or residues from the beer, olive and biodiesel industries.

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