BioMason: Replicating Coral To ‘Grow’ Bricks
A building materials company that “grows” bricks and masonry from scratch without using heat. It’s fair to say that BioMason is an unusual startup. Brick-making is usually a practice that requires large amounts of heat and energy, but the North Carolina based business uses a process that is millions of years old for the same effect.
Bricks are normally made by blasting clay in kilns at around 2,000 degrees celsius for several days at a time. It is an expensive process, energy intensive and one that is damaging for the environment.
BioMason’s approach is quite different, injecting sand with microorganisms to initiate a process not dissimilar from the one, which leads to the creation of coral. The technique takes four days in total and creates bricks that are strong enough for use in all regular commercial applications.
Coral forms in a similar way, though over a much longer period of time, it is extremely resilient though, withstanding the pressure of water and avoiding negatives impacts of erosion.
Still a relatively new player in the brick-making marketplace, BioMason continues to seek and receive angel investment. The next step for the company is to move to a new facility, where they will have the capacity to grow 5,000 bricks every two days, a low number for the industry, but a significant step forward nonetheless.
As always, developments with new materials are interesting to view, getting to scale is usually a key factor in achieving economic viability, while there continues to be the expectation that legislation will shift in a way that benefits innovations just like this one.