The wise man built his house upon a rock… of salt?
The latest hope for the future of building AND water is a material made from salt from seawater.
Using solar power to separate the salt from seawater, they then mix the salt with a starch that comes from an algae also from the seawater. The created bricks have a compressed strength greater than earth.
And even more, the desalinated water is perfect for returning to the soil for growing food. Although they are focused on desert countries, this could have worldwide benefits. What do you think?
A brilliant new building material designed by a recent architecture graduate of TU Delft could solve several pressing environmental challenges at once.
Unlike traditional desalination technology, the extracted salt could be reused as a sustainable building material. Because it has great compressive strength, but not so much tension, it would be most ideally used in domes and arches, which are common in vernacular desert architecture.
Salt, of course, does not react well when exposed to moisture, so Geboers seals the starchy salt bricks with an epoxy. Since this is a plastic-based material, the architect is currently researching bio-based plastics as a more ecological alternative. Water distilled as a byproduct of the solar desalination process would then be used to grow food in greenhouses – similar to the Sahara Forest Project that is successfully cultivating crops in Qatar.
Gulf countries are particularly well-suited for this kind of innovative architecture given limited freshwater resources and ubiquitous access to saltwater, severe aridity, and a growing, hungry, wealthy population that relies almost exclusively on imports for food.