Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The ultimate reuse of water?


Yup, there is a clue in the title; just what do you use to make mud bricks with in Darfur when you need all the available water there is for drinking?

Architects for Aid (A4A) asked professor Till and his students at Sheffield University to carry out tests on mud bricks made with human urine and these tests showed an improvement over water, as urea proved a better binder for the mud. After further research it was discovered that if the liquid was stored for six months the ammonia destroyed the pathogens in it and the results were even better. Several hundred bricks were subjected to crush, scratch, water spray, soaking and yes, you guessed it, sniff tests, and all showed a superior toughening effect of the urine on the bricks structure compared to normal water constructed mud bricks.

Professor Till said that “this showed that some answers are found in unexpected places”, a masterpiece of understatement in my book, but as far as his comment that “there is a PHD’s worth of additional work here”, I would have to pass on that.

4 comments:

barefoot gardener said...

Ummm, wow. I am selfishly glad I won't have to live in a house built from those bricks, no matter how functional they may be. I just don't know if I could get over the idea.

Chile said...

Maybe not a house built with them, but walls, sure. Did it mention how they stored the urine for the 6 months? Open or closed containers?

This brings back memories of a section in the 'Clan of the Cave Bear' books on letting urine turn to ammonia and then using it to bleach leather white. Haven't tried it, though. ;-)

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

In the Hebrides the cloth was soaked in sheep or human urine. The ammonia loosened the waxy lanolin in the new cloth so that Hi Chile,

They stored 'it' in a closed container and urine is used in the manufacture of Haris Tweed as the urine gives the cloth a soft texture and sets the color, especially indigo, which, I have been told, was called 'pisspot blue'..... Can't think why......

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

I have no idea what happened above!!! The 'Hi Chile' WAS first and the bit prior was supposed to be deleted....