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For Architect, Gore is the New Green

Friday, November 30, 2012

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Even the most ardent recycler might be challenged by what to do with an abundance of leftover animal blood.

Not Jack Munro.

When life handed the young British architect gallons and gallons of fresh blood, he made bricks. And then he built with them.

Jack Munro - blood brick ingredients
Photos: http://www.jsmunro.co.uk/

The ingredients for Jack Munro's novel building material are simple: sand, animal blood, and a preservative.

Munro, who has a passion for developing innovative materials, says the world’s superfluous animal blood—and there is a lot of it—could be the perfect foundation for building materials.

Thus, Munro has been hard at work on a series of serious experiments to whisk up the right recipe.

For Munro, it’s not gross. It’s green.

Waste Not

“Animal blood is one of the most prolific waste materials in the world,” writes the architect, whose graduate project at the University of Westminster captured the 2012 Rawat Award for Best Graduate Design Project and is nominated for the 2012 RIBA Silver Medal.

“The blood drained from animal carcasses is generally thrown away or incinerated, despite being a potentially useful product.”

The graduate project, Sanguis et Pulvis (Blood and Dust), focusing on a Berber settlement in Siwa, Egypt, notes that animal blood “is an abundant waste product in North African countries, with each halal slaughtered cow producing around 40 liters of blood.”

“This material can act as a powerful binding agent for use in construction,” he writes.

Sanguis et Pulvis - Jack Munro

Munro's work showed how waste blood from halal animal slaughter could be used in building materials and other products.

Munro's project used waste blood from halal animal slaughter to create a building that now houses cattle sheds, abattoirs and brick-making facilities for turning more blood into bricks for local construction. The building also generates solar power on a large scale, according to Munro.

The Recipe

Munro’s process involves mixing fresh blood with a preservative (EDTA, which prevents bacterial and fungal growth on the material) and sand. He then placed the mixture in a form work and baked for one hour at 70°C (158°F).

Blood Bricks process - Jack Munro

Munro shows the process of making bricks from animal blood. He has used the bricks for building.

“This application of heat is sufficient to coagulate the blood proteins into a solid insoluble mass, which bonds the sand into a stable solid,” Munro writes. “This material is water proof and, as such, is a potential replacement for mud bricks in regions, which have suffered significant rain damage such as Siwa, Egypt.”


Tagged categories: Architects; Commercial Construction; Green building; Recycled building materials; Renewable raw materials

Comment from Dennis Guy, (11/30/2012, 7:55 AM)

Building bricks with Bovine Blood? Beautiful...

Comment from Tatsuya Nakagawa, (11/30/2012, 12:15 PM)

Innovative idea, we'll stick to recycling gypsum http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFUO53fNenY

Comment from Catherine Brooks, (12/3/2012, 10:04 AM)

I understand EDTA prevents GROWTH of biological contaminants, but does it kill the original ones already in the blood as well? I don't only heating the brick to 70 C/158F will kill bacteria and fungi. I bet simple, homemade solar ovens do the baking, thus making the whole process using no extra power. Isn't a kind of old paint/stain called Blood Paint - with the binder being the protein in blood and the colorant being the red in blood? Similar to Milk Paint? I'd love to see the final bricks' color. I believe some of the native African villages treat animal blood as a symbol of prosperity when offered as a drink. Having one's house made of blood brick might also be a sign of honor not horror.

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