Flinders University researchers have developed bricks made from waste that don’t require mortar to adhere | New


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Researchers from Flinders University’s Chalker Research Lab have developed a more sustainable alternative to making bricks using waste materials.

The team used low-cost raw materials to make lightweight yet durable polymer building blocks, which can be glued together through a chemical reaction without an adhesive. Their study tested the strength of these materials and explored ways to strengthen them in construction.

Cover image of the international journal of chemistry and physics, “Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics” Sustainability Edition. Graphics by Animate Your Science. Image cover courtesy of Flinders University.

“In this study, we tested a new type of brick that we can make from used cooking oil, mixed with sulfur and dicyclopentadiene (DCPD),” says Justin Chalker, professor of chemistry at Flinders and head of project. “Sulphur and DCPD are by-products of petroleum refining. These bricks bond without mortar upon application of a trace amount of amine catalyst. All starting materials are abundant and can be classified as industrial waste This research is part of a larger effort to move towards a sustainable built environment.”

Figure showing how polymer bricks can be assembled as a building material (left). Material strength test (right). Image courtesy of Flinder University.

These bricks can be bonded together without the need for mortar or cement, materials whose production is very carbon intensive. “The bonding in this new catalytic process is very strong, producing a durable building material with its own mortar that will potentially streamline construction,” adds Chalker Lab research associate Dr. Maximilian Mann.

The team will collaborate with Clean Earth Technologies to expand research and development. They will also explore hardware scaling and commercialization. According to the first author of the research paper, Paris Pauling: “The research is an excellent example of new scientific developments in the science of sustainable materials.”

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