India-based company, Rhino Machines has launched the silica plastic blocks – a sustainable building brick made from recycling foundry dust/ sand waste (80%) and mixed plastic waste (20%). The Silica-plastic block or SPB attempts to confront the massive dust waste and overall pollution production in India which has created a severe environmental hazard. The project was completed in collaboration with R+D Labs; the research wing of the architectural firm R+D Studio.
The Silica-plastic block project started with a clear mandate of producing zero waste from the sand reclamation plant in Rhino Machines foundry plant. In the initial stages, experiments were conducted by using foundry dust in cement-bonded fly ash bricks (7-10% waste recycled) and clay bricks (15% waste recycled). This experimentation also required the use of natural supplies such as cement, fertile soil and water. The amount of natural resources consumed in the process was not justified by the waste it was able to recycle. These trials led to more research by the inhouse R+D team, resulting in a possibility of bonding the sand/foundry dust with plastic. By using plastic as a bonding agent, the need for water during mixing and thereafter curing is completely eliminated. The blocks can be directly used after cooling down from molding process.
The SPBs were found to have 2.5 times the strength of normal red clay bricks while, to be consumed they need around 70 to 80% of the foundry dust with 80% lesser use of natural resources. With further testing and development, newer molds were prepared to test them as paver blocks and the results were successful. Over the period of 4 months, various industries such as hospitals, societies, individuals, social organizations and the local municipal corporations were approached to provide clean plastic. In total, six tonnes of plastic waste and sixteen tonnes of dust and sand from the foundry industry were collected, ready to be recycled.
Since the SPB is made out of waste, the cost of production can easily compete with the commonly available red clay brick or the CMU (concrete masonry unit). Rhino Machines is now preparing to come up with an ecosystem solution so that the foundries across the country can develop and distribute the SPBs within their impact zones through CSR (corporate social responsibility – a Indian government initiative for businesses to undertake philanthropic causes and give back to the community). The SPBs could be used to build walls, toilets, school campuses, health clinics, pavers, drive ways etc.
Team: Manish Kothari, Rajnikant Paghadhar, Yogesh Chauhan, Ashit Desai, Rashmi Kothari