It would be in the year 2015, when there was talk of increasing pollution of Delhi across the country. Especially in Haryana and Punjab, there was discussion on the problem of stubble burning by farmers, how it is one of the main causes of air pollution. IIT Hyderabad has found a solution to this problem, by making Bio Brick.
Priyabrata Routarai, PhD Scholar in the Department of Design, IIT Hyderabad, and his partner, Avik Roy, have created ‘Bio Brick’ by using post-harvest straw in the fields, which can be used as building material.
A guard-room made of Bio Brick has been inaugurated at IIT Hyderabad in September, 2021. This is the first building in India, which is made of Bio Brick.
Speaking to The Better India, Priyabrata and Avik shared how they are working on the problem of stubble burning and sustainable architecture through Bio Brick.
Originally from Odisha, both Priyabrata and Avik are architects. Priyabrata is currently pursuing PhD while Avik is a teacher at KIITS School of Architecture, Bhubaneswar.
Avik explains, “After our masters degree in design, both of us were working in different industries in Delhi. In the year 2011, together we started our design firm, “R Square Design”. We did many designing projects. But in the last few years, when the discussion on the increasing pollution in Delhi increased, it caught our attention. On one hand there was the problem of stubble and on the other hand the demand for bricks was increasing in the construction industry. After deliberating for a long time, we found a solution to both these problems and that solution is Bio Brick.
Bio Brick made from Farm Waste
Priyabrata explains that on one hand there was the problem of increasing air pollution due to stubble burning, while on the other hand farmers, who did not have any concrete solution to manage the stubble. At the same time, talking about the construction industry, it is true that this industry is also responsible for harming the environment. There are about 140,000 brick kilns in the country, but still bricks are not supplied for construction purposes. Also, the top layer of clay is being used for making bricks, due to which the quality of the soil is deteriorating.
These brick kilns not only consume a lot of energy, but the pollution caused by them is also very high. For this reason Avik and Priyabrata wondered why agricultural waste cannot be used for the construction industry. He started working on it from the year 2015. First he started doing research on the waste of different crops like sugarcane, wheat and rice etc. Meanwhile, Priyabrata got admission in PhD at IIT Hyderabad in 2017 and Avik started working as a teacher in the college.
In 2019, Avik and Priyabrata also published a research paper on ‘Bio Brick’ at the ICED conference, Delft University. Their idea was liked by all and since then both are working in this project. After nearly six years of hard work, he was finally able to make bricks from the waste of different crops. He presented his ‘Bio Brick’ at the Rural Innovators Start-Up Conclave 2019. Where he got the Special Recognition Trophy in the Sustainable Housing category. After this, he filed a patent for this technology and in April 2021 he also got the patent.
Sustainable Guard Room Made From Bio Brick
Talking about their technique, Avik and Priyabrata explain, “We have used cement and lime as a binder to make bricks out of stubble. First the stubble is cut into small pieces and then it is selected with water and cement is mixed. After this it is poured into the mold and dried for two days. Brick is ready in two-three days. We have made a guard room of 6×6 feet from this material in the campus of IIT Hyderabad. Its walls and roof are both made of bio-brick.
He has used a metal frame to make the structure of this room. Says Priyabrata, “First we made a metal frame and then molded it and made walls out of raw material. The mold was removed after two days and after that, the walls were allowed to dry for about 10 days so that it hardens well. After that we also worked on making the roof in the same way. Bio bricks have been installed on the PVC sheet for the roof. This will act as an insulator. This guardroom was completed in September 2021.
He told that he got funding for this project under the BUILD (Bold Unique Idea Lead Development) program of IIT Hyderabad.
Guard room feature
Being made of bio brick, the temperature inside the room remains about six degrees below the temperature outside. Because this material acts like an insulator. At the same time, it is also fire resistant by using lime and cement as a binder material. Other than this,
- This technology is not only a sustainable alternative to clay bricks in the construction industry but can also be a source of additional income for the farmers.
- If farmers are given the right way to manage stubble, then no one will burn stubble, which will not cause air pollution.
- Making bio bricks is very easy and economical too. Farmers can also make it in their own fields and supply it further.
- The weight of bio brick is five times less than that of clay brick and eight times less than that of cement bricks.
- In comparison to normal brick, if bio brick is made on a large scale, then the cost of a brick will be two to three rupees.
- In villages and small towns, bio brick is a very good and sustainable raw material for small housing models and affordable buildings.
About this project, Professor BS Murthy, Director, IIT Hyderabad says that this is the best example of ‘earning from waste’. Therefore, he will soon send a proposal to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to take it to the rural communities. At the same time, Professor Deepak John Mathew, head of the institute’s design department, says that this invention will change the lives of farmers as they will be able to earn income from their agricultural waste. This will give them good employment opportunities.
If you want to know more about this project then you can watch this video.
Editing – G N Jha
Also read: Agro-waste to eco-textile: helping farmers and fashion go hand in hand