A “smart brick” developed by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign could monitor a building’s health and save lives. “This innovation could change the face of the construction industry,” said Chang Liu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois. “We are living with more and more smart electronics all around us, but we still live and work in fairly dumb buildings. By making our buildings smarter, we can improve both our comfort and safety.”
Taiwanese researchers say they’ve crafted a win-win situation in the discovery that sewage sludge can be used to bulk up construction bricks. The bio-bricks contain up to 30 percent sludge, which can come from either industrial slurry or the, er, human waste stream. Because the bricks are kiln-fired at 900C, all bacteria and viruses are destroyed. Plus the process seals in any heavy metals that might be present. Best of all, the researchers say, the bricks don’t smell at all. The team behind the discovery admits that people might need some convincing to live in such intimate contact with their past meals, noting that legal approval and public acceptance remain to be sought.