Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Non-Fired brick and Block: for a Green Future

Bricks and blocks made from material which is not fired, or heat treated, have long been a goal of the masonry industry. Firing bricks creates pollution and contributes to greenhouse gasses.

China has long been the world’s major producer of fired clay bricks. They have recently begun to phase out the creation of fired clay bricks, and are now using cement-based bricks, which create less pollution and CO2 than fired bricks.

In this article, shared with me by my business partner Mike Wong, a recent effort to create non-fired brick in Viet Nam is discussed. This effort appears very promising, and may help the world find an adequate solution toward the creation of non-fired brick and block.

Here is another description of making non-fired brick. This technology uses bacteria and room temperature sand, and also appears very promising.

Interestingly, the Vietnamese approach relies on industrial waste, like slag from combustion and metal processing. This approach hearkens back to the cinder block, as developed and invented by Francis Straub, as discussed earlier in this blog. Sometimes it seems there is nothing new, only that which has been forgotten.


  1. Hi,

    i've been reading some articles posted on your blog. And i'm curious if it's possible to build a dome with loam (non-fired) bricks and then cover the dome with 1.5m (4.5-5 feet) of growing medium/soil? Will the dome be able to sustain such load?

    Assuming the dome is waterproofed and insulation layer is placed on the outside of the dome.

    1. Hi,

      The answer to your question depends on the strength of your un-fired loam bricks. I would not expect this material to be very strong, so I think it would be a challenge. Also, if it weakened at all over time (e.g., moisture) you might suffer a collapse. Instead, I would build the inside with either cast concrete or fired clay blocks; then you could cover the outside with as much soil/topfill as you wanted. The soil/topfill would act as insulation, so you don't have to insulate. This would be a very efficient structure. Thanks for your interest, let me know if I can answer any questions.