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Thursday, September 16, 2021

India’s first building made of bio-bricks at IIT-Hyderabad is a great example of ‘wealth from waste’

Developed to counter the air pollution caused by stubble burning, bio-bricks cost only about Rs 2-3 when mass-produced and can be an extra source of income for marginal farmers

By: Express Web Desk | Hyderabad |
September 3, 2021 2:55:13 pm
Researchers at the IIT demonstrated that agricultural waste can be converted into sustainable materials which, in turn, can be used to build eco-friendly, cost-effective structures.

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Hyderabad on Thursday inaugurated India’s first building made of bio-bricks from agro-waste. Calling it a perfect illustration of ‘Wealth from Waste’, IIT-H Director BS Murthy said the institute will submit a proposal to the Ministry of Agriculture to promote its wider adoption by the rural community.

Researchers at the IIT demonstrated that agricultural waste can be converted into sustainable materials which, in turn, can be used to build eco-friendly, cost-effective structures. In April this year, the team secured a patent for the bio-brick material and its manufacturing technology.

The technology has been developed by research scholar Priyabrata Rautray under the supervision of Professor Deepak John Mathew at the Department of Design.

“This innovation is going to be a game-changer for rural village farmers as their agricultural waste will become an income generator for them. Also, this will give employment to them during their lean period,” Professor Mathew said. They have jointly published two research papers on bio-bricks at international conferences at ICED 2019, Delft University and ICoRD 2021, IIT Mumbai.

Burning of agro-waste after harvest is a major cause of air pollution. The bio-brick technology was developed to counter such pollution caused by stubble burning. “Bio-bricks are economical and are found to be 1/8 and 1/10 of weight for similar volume compared to burnt clay bricks and concrete blocks, respectively. Compared to burnt clay bricks, Bio-bricks will cost about Rs 2-3 when mass-produced. Farmers can make this material at the site and further reduce labour costs. Manufacturing bio-bricks can add to the marginal farmers’ income and create a new employment opportunity during off-seasons,” said a press release.

According to the researchers, the material exhibits excellent thermal insulation and fire-retardant properties. When used in roofing and wall panelling, it can effectively reduce heat gain by 5 – 6 degrees. They realised that generation of ago-waste in the country was huge while the demand for regular bricks was growing exponentially, leading to the loss of fertile topsoil and more air pollution. “I sincerely hope farmers and villagers adopt this technology to build their homes,” Rautray said.

As part of the BUILD (Bold Unique Idea Lead Development) project to demonstrate the strength and versatility of the material, a prototype of a guard cabin was designed and executed by the team on space allocated on the campus. The building made of bio-bricks is supported by a metal framework. The roof structure is made of bio-bricks over PVC sheets to reduce heat gain. The inside and outside of the wall is cement-plastered to protect the bio-bricks from rain.

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