A Cheaper Brick

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Calstar has devised a cheaper brick:

Ordinary bricks are fired for 24 hours at 2,000°F (1,093°C) as part of a process that can last a week, while Calstar bricks are baked at temperatures below 212°F (100°C) and take only 10 hours from start to finish, Kane said.

The recipe incorporates large amounts of fly ash — a fluffy, powdery residue of burned coal at electric plants, that can otherwise wind up as a troublesome pollutant.

“Ours is a precise product” that relies on getting the chemistry right, said Amitabha Kumar, Calstar’s director of research and development.

The process of making the bricks, which look and feel like any other brick, requires 80 to 90 percent less energy and emits 85 percent less greenhouse gas than ordinary bricks, according to Calstar.

Lower energy costs mean higher profit, allowing the company to pay for its research and compete against large companies that have economies of scale.

Naturally the Brick Industry Association says that they are not actually bricks, and that there is no proof that products using fly ash will last as well as traditional brick.

Of course, there’s no proof that they won’t last longer than traditional brick either.

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