Bricks made from human urine

University of Cape Town researchers created the world's first "bio-bricks" made from sand, bacteria, and human urine collected from special toilets in the engineering school's bathrooms. From The Guardian:

Bio-bricks are created through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation, said (project supervisor and water quality engineering lecturer Dyllon) Randall, similar to the way seashells are formed. Loose sand, which has been colonised with bacteria that produces urease, is mixed with the urine. Urease breaks down the urea in the urine, producing calcium carbonate, which cements the sand into shape.

While regular bricks are kiln-fired at temperatures of 1,400C and produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, the bio-bricks do not require heat.

“If a client wanted a brick stronger than a 40% limestone brick, you would allow the bacteria to make the solid stronger by ‘growing’ it for longer,” said Randall...

Randall described urine as liquid gold. By volume, urine accounts for less than 1% of domestic waste water, but it contains 80% of the nitrogen, 56% of the phosphorus and 63% of the potassium found in waste water.

(via NextDraft) Read the rest

This nail dispensing hammer is a work of genius

Michael Young's an industrial designer. After over six years of tinkering, he came up with this frigging masterpiece of a prototype: a framing hammer that dispenses nails. If it ever makes it to market, having mashed my digits setting up a nail to be driven into boards an untold number of times, I will be the fist in line to buy this thing. Read the rest

Watch: 1200 workers convert above-ground train line in Tokyo to subway line in one night

From one of my favorite blogs, Nag on the Lake, a post about how workers in Tokyo moved section of train line underground in the course of an evening in 2013.

When the Shibuya Station Toyoko Line above-ground train shut down for good it was replaced with a new section of subway track connecting Shibuya Station and the nearby Daikanyama Station. The conversion of the line from above-ground to underground required 1,200 engineers and countless man-hours.

But this mammoth construction was virtually unnoticeable, because it all occurred during the train line’s off-hours… over the course of one single night.

Image: Youtube screenshot Read the rest

This castle has been 20 years in the making--and it's not even finished yet

In the north of Burgandy, France, a group of history buffs are hard at work building a castle, from scratch, using traditional building methods and materials--and they've been at it for TWENTY YEARS. The project is supported entirely on the backs of donations and hard, dedicated, manual labor.

Incredible. Read the rest

Watch these massive machines crush and drive cement pilings

Given the crushing strength of this machine and the way large chunks of concrete balance atop distressed rebar, this worker might want to consider goggles and not turning his back on the machine. Read the rest

Watch this machine bore out and remove an entire manhole

Ever drive over a manhole that was not flush with the pavement? This is how they fix them.

Via Mr. Manhole:

In 2002, we recognized that there had to be a better way to remove manhole frames from the road, and came up with the Mr. Manhole system, a state-of-the-art set of tools, and a repair method that makes manhole removal and repair easier and safer for your crew.

It looked like it was starting to snow a bit at one point. Let's hope Mr. Manhole has the number for Mr. Plow.

Mr. Manhole Full Process - How it works (YouTube / Mr Manhole) Read the rest

In the future, demolition robots like this will destroy everything

Husqvarna's remote-controlled demolition robots remind me of the machine art performances that Survival Research Laboratories has staged since 1977.

Husqvarna bills its machines as "remote workmates ready to tackle your heaviest, most challenging jobs."

Compare that to what Survival Research Laboratories founder Mark Pauline told me in a 1993 interview:

"The real message of machines isn't that they're helpful workmates," Pauline said. "Like any extension of the human psyche, machines are scary things," he says. When you take the scary human psyche and magnify it hundreds or thousands of times with technology, it's really nightmarish."

(via Uncrate) Read the rest

Every terrifying detail of what it's like to work as a saturation diver

Saturation divers are specialized workers doing construction or demolition hundreds of feet below the water's surface. This detailed report gives a sense of what it's like to have a grueling routine where a tiny mistake could mean a quick and painful death. Read the rest

This is the best NSFW explanation of the Florida bridge collapse

If you like sweary Canadians with lots of knowledge about building materials and construction, Arduino versus Evil has the most interesting armchair analysis of what caused the Florida International University bridge collapse. Read the rest

It's fun to watch this specialized truck build a tunnel

This truck supports pieces of a tunnel arch as they are lowered from a crane. The body of the truck is covered with rollers so it can drive out of the tunnel and let the pieces fall into place.

Zipper Truck - Vault Assembly System from mechanical_gifs

Read the rest

Watch a server room's isolated floor do its job during earthquake

On a reporting trip in the mid-1990s, I visited the headquarters of a major Japanese construction company. I was there to talk about their plans (unrealized, thus far) to build hotels on the moon. During the tour, they took me underneath the building to show me their state-of-the-art (at the time) seismic base isolators to manage the vibration caused by huge earthquakes. The entire huge building was built on big rubber bearings that sway and sliding mechanisms that move smoothly back and forth. I felt quite safe. I was reminded of that technology when watching this in-building seismic isolation technology doing its job in a Sendai building's server room during the March 11, 2011 Tōhokue earthquake.

Of course Boing Boing is impervious to such natural disasters as our private data facility is located in stable orbit at the fifth Lagrange point.

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Drone flyover shows construction on Apple's circular campus

To celebrate 2017, Matthew Roberts flew a drone over the Apple Campus 2 site under construction. Interesting to compare to when Pesco posted this back in 2015. Read the rest

How to make a hempcrete wall

Four parts hemp hurd, one part lime binder, and one part water is all you need to make hempcrete, a durable building material similar to pressboard or adobe. Just fill up the form with hempcrete, tamp it down, and once it's set, you're set! Read the rest

Timelapse of giant sinkhole repair in Japan

It took just days for a construction crew to repair a road that collapsed into a sinkhole in the business district of Fukuoka, Japan.

From CNN:

After the sinkhole appeared on November 8, subcontractors worked around the clock to fill in the 30 meter (98 ft) wide, 15 meter (50 ft) deep hole by the 12th with a mixture of sand and cement. The job was complicated by the water which had seeped in from sewage pipes destroyed by collapsing sections of road.

After that it only took another 48 hours to reinstall all utilities -- electricity, water, sewage, gas and telecommunication lines -- and to resurface the road. There were no reports of injuries.

Read the rest

This 90-year-old man is building a cathedral by himself, by hand

For more than 50 years, Justo Gallego has spent his days building his own beautiful cathedral outside of Madrid, all by himself.

"When I started to build this cathedral, the word on the street was that I was crazy," Gallego says.

Read the rest

Watch these bulldozers battle over turf, for real

In China's Hebei Province, bulldozers from competing construction companies battled it reportedly over a business opportunity. According to ABC News, police finally put a stop to the insanity and two drivers were injured. Perhaps the operators have been watching too many Survival Research Labs performance videos.

Read the rest

Blue's is a magazine about Japanese construction worker culture

“There’s no media anywhere about these guys, but they’re so cool!” That's the thought Tomonobu Yanagi had when he decided to make a magazine about "construction culture." Yanagi was a punk musician in the 1970s, and now manages a waterworks construction firm. He teamed up with Japanese “new journalism” writer Gensho Ishimaru (known for writing about his recreational drug trips) to launch Blue's Magazine. With lavish photos, it covers subjects such as the kind of food construction workers favor (salty, greasy food), what it is like to be on a crew rebuilding the Fukushima area, and the influx of construction workers from Africa and America.

From Ignition:

Before BLUE’S, no “culture magazine” had ever written profiles of the men who work at construction sites. Because of that, though, there are really no fixed rules or formulas for how to make such a magazine. Every issue’s layout, Ishimaru says, presents a fresh challenge, and forces the pair to reinvent the rules from zero. The best example of this may be the magazine’s cover design, which features photos of construction artist Hironari Kubota in a loincloth

Read the rest

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