War is a sad reality of modern life for many across the world. Rebuilding the infrastructure of areas devastated by warfare is costly, time consuming and emotional. So, what if we could rebuild these towns and cities from the remains of buildings that have been destroyed during conflict? Well, Majd Mashharawi has come up with an ingenious way of doing this.
Known as Green Cake, engineer Majd has come up with a way to make a cement-like construction material using rubble from demolished buildings and limited resources. It’s cheaper, lighter, sustainable and super strong.
So, how is it made?
The key ingredient is reused coal ash which, cost-wise, works out at 25% less than traditional construction blocks.
"Green Cake as an innovation works out at 25% less than traditional construction blocks."
Combining the ash with rubble from destroyed buildings, Mashharawi, found that this created a decent aggregate. Mixing the aggregate, ash and water created a perfect mixture of construction.
The method hasn’t had the opportunity to be tried and tested in the same way as other forms of alternative cement and concrete. However, with the needs for immediate action in these areas to rebuild homes and prevent displacement of people, it is the best option available.
If this is the only criticism of the methodology, then we think she is on to a winner.
This is not the first time that the construction and engineering industries have stepped in to relieve the devastation of war.
"This is not the first time that the construction industry has had to think on its feet for ways to help those affected by conflict."
Back in WW2, many were housed in ‘prefabs’ in the UK. This were modular constructed houses that could be put together in minimal time with limited costs and low level wastage.
They were not intended to be permanent solutions to housing crisis after war, but they were intended to alleviate the potential for widespread homelessness.
Much like in WW2, these ash and debris construction blocks are an immediate solution to an otherwise long term problem.
So no, Mashharawi’s innovation isn’t necessarily going to stand the test of time, we won’t know that yet, but it is about preventing homelessness for some of the most vulnerable people in the world until better measures can be taken.
And the best part? It’s far less of a power and resource guzzling method than traditional concretes.
And whilst we wait for this innovation to be tested over time, we can develop ways that this method can be used in the long term as a sustainable alternative to concrete.
There are so many new innovative forms of concrete being investigated as the world’s attention is drawn ever more to the issue of climate change. Mashhawari is yet another incredible mind working toward saving our planet and we are big fans of eco heroes like herself.