Architecture

Could animal blood be the next eco-friendly building material?

Could animal blood be the next...
The "Blood Bricks" created by British architecture school graduate Jack Munro
The "Blood Bricks" created by British architecture school graduate Jack Munro
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The "Blood Bricks" created by British architecture school graduate Jack Munro
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The "Blood Bricks" created by British architecture school graduate Jack Munro

How could cattle become any more useful? Their hide is already used to produce leather, their milk is used for cheese butter and, well, milk, they taste great in a burger and continue to serve as draft animals in many parts of the world. British architecture school graduate Jack Munro has found a way to make a building material using one of the few materials from cattle that currently largely goes to waste – blood.

Munro’s “Blood Bricks” are created by first mixing fresh blood with an anticoagulant (EDTA) to prevent it thickening too quickly. Although he used bullocks, blood from other animals could also be used. He then adds sodium azide as a preservative to prevent decomposition and bacteria growth. After a number of unsuccessful attempts at creating a glue by adding chemicals such as glacial acetic acid, Munro turned to the simpler combination of blood and water that is then mixed with sand.

Placing the resulting mixture in formwork and baking it for an hour at 70° C (158° F) for an hour causes the blood proteins to coagulate to produce a stable, waterproof brick. With Munro estimating that 30 liters (7.9 gal US) of blood could be recovered from a single bullock and sand plentiful, he believes Blood Bricks have the potential to replace mud bricks as a building material in arid regions.

To this end, he is looking to raise enough money to build a prototype home using Blood Bricks in Siwa, Egypt. If he's successful, we might start seeing a lot of "red brick" homes being built in similar areas.

Source: JSMunro via Co.Design

18 comments
mooseman
Certainly clever, but I can't see this catching on. There's just too much of the "icky factor" in it. The trend seems to be towards using *fewer* animal products, not more.
Barry Hopwood
For many years it was common to use animal derived additives in lime based renders. Blood, hair and manure were all used and still are when working on historic buildings. In this case the blood seems to being used as a bonding agent whereas in traditional construction it was used to improve the workability of the render. Just goes to show there is nothing new under the sun.
Kevin Frothngham
mooseman, "icky factor"? THINK about that. When an animal is butchered, blood is a generally considered a 'byproduct' and discarded/wasted. This process takes a byproduct and converts into a sanitary, useful, stable and durable product.
Toffe Carling
Most interesting idea, too bad that making food out of the blood is much better use of it.
Mike Hallett
The Vegies and Vegans have left the building.....never to return.
Tim Lewallen
The blood from butchered animals is not currently being wasted. It is used to make various animal feeds and fertilizer products.
wle
at least in industrialized countries, they use blood for fertilizer, animal food, etc ew but still and in some far off primitive country, will they have molds, ovens, the other chemicals.? ew again wle
ADVENTUREMUFFINffin
This is wrong on so many levels-chief among them would be the subsidizing the meat industry-a very unsustainable food using 100 times the land and contributing to 25% of the greenhouse gasses. I'm with Mike Hallett, the Veggies and Vegans have vacated the building...never to be seen again.
Ruth Vallejos
While there is an ick factor, what is interesting is this person has looked at an unconventional material and investigated it's properties in ways never thought of. What else is out there? I'm still jazzed about hempcrete and wish there was some way to cut thru the cr*p about hemp to get it on the market in the US in a big way.
Snake Oil Baron
The heat causes the protein to coagulate but why wouldn't it rot over time? Interesting idea though. If you look at the amount of crop you would need to replace animals in our diet (and if you don't calculate animal feed as if every bit of it comes from dedicated cropland--much of it comes from human crop waste and processing byproducts), meat actually takes up less land than the equivalent in vegetative calories and nutrients. Blood used in animal feed will probably become less popular and less legal with mad cow disease and new potential diseases. The Hajj probably results in a lot of spare blood. Muslims are not supposed to consume it but they don't seem to have any shortage of sand. With some desalination they might get into the brick production and export business.