The housing crisis is a hot topic in the media at the minute with theories flying round on how it can be fixed. Things such as supporting the self employed and ending the big company’s grip on the industry have been discussed. But what about the materials we use?
Typically, houses in the UK are built using fired bricks and concrete. But is there an alternative?
Over the years, these bricks have served their purpose creating strong standing buildings that are durable and easy to construct. However, one of the major drawbacks of this method is the impact it has on the environment. Specifically, the carbon emissions that are created.
And, with the number of houses that need to be built, a new, more renewable material is surely needed.
One material that is in the mix of replacing your typical bricks and concrete though is geopolymer-stabilised soil materials. Similar to cement, this material is durable and hard. It’s made out of chains of oxygen atoms, silicon, alkali metal and aluminium.
The process to create it is simple with soil taken from beneath the valuable surface layer. Then, this is mixed up with an alkaline activating solution. This solution then dissolves the clay minerals into their constituent atoms. The substance then becomes almost like the consistency of play dough which allows for it to be formed into brick moulds. These bricks are then heated from between 80-100°c. During this stage, the atoms then dissolve rearranging into a geopolymer. Stabilising the remaining soil, the final brick is then created.
These materials have been used limitedly in construction since the 70’s. But, it has been speculated that the true potential has not yet been tapped into.
This isn’t the only material to be considered though. Things such as super concrete and timber framed homes are also being considered.
But what do you lot think? Do you think new materials are needed in construction? Will they help fix the housing crisis? Let us know what you think in the comments below.