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Tuesday22 July 2014

Halloween blog: Bloody bricks

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“When the blood is collected it is essential that an anticoagulant is added immediately. Without this the blood will turn to a jelly like substance in 5 minutes.”

Now that the most squeamish part is out the way….

Jack Munro, a recent Westminster graduate, has come up with a proposal to up-cycle wasted bovine blood from slaughterhouses into a sustainable building resource- bricks.

Munro carried out a series of experiments to reach the make-up of his final ‘blood brick’. After collecting the blood of four cows, adding an anticoagulant and a preservative, he then mixed the blood with a quantity of sand. This mixture was then placed in a mould and baked at 70c; in the oven the blood proteins coagulate and hold the sand in a stable solid structure. Although compression testing proved that the bricks weren’t strong, they were waterproof.

Jack Munro's blood bricks

Jack Munro’s blood bricks

In North African countries animal blood is an abundant waste product due to halal slaughtering, a single cow produces about 40 litres of blood. Munro believes that these bricks could replace mud bricks in regions such as Siwa in Egypt, that has suffered significant rain damage. The material could be used as a binding agent in construction, to solidify sand dunes and re-establish a sustainable local vernacular.

Another advantage is that because the temperature needed to create a blood brick is much lower than that of the traditional mud brick, they can be baked in the desert sun.

So, will it catch on? It’s hard to say. Despite the multitude of animal by-products used in the everyday, the idea that people might actually want to live in a house made of blood is hard to envisage. Coupled with some cultural and religious considerations whereby blood is forbidden and believed to be a harmful substance for humans, it may be a hard sell.

By Ishbel Mull

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