In the US, an excess of more than 500 million tons of demolition waste is shipped to landfills every year. In an attempt to solve this problem, Chris Maurer, Principal Architect with Cleveland-based redhouse studio, has partnered with NASA, MIT, and the University of Akron to create the Biocycler – a mobile recycler unit that can be brought to destination and recycle waste building materials on site. The Biocycler will use living organisms – referred to as cultured bio-binders – to bind construction waste into bricks that can be used to build new structures, making it eco-friendly. The researchers are experimenting with mycelium – the vegetative part of fungi – and calcite-producing microbes as building and binding materials in the process.
“A symbiosis of the microbes and fungi can be made to feed each other and [they] are working towards using the microbes as bio-signals to tell us things about the structure and air-quality within it. Where food security is an issue, we are looking to make mushroom production the main activity and the bio-materials the secondary output,” said Maurer.
The materials that will be produced will go through a series of tests to show that they are equal or superior to commercially produced materials. These multi-functional materials will be insulative, structural, and fire-resistant.
redhouse studio is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the construction of a proof of concept that they can recycle construction material. “Truth be told, we’re already recycling buildings, or at least materials,” said Maurer. “The Kickstarter will lead to a mobile unit to put these processes on display and get closer to building entire structures out of the waste.”