While researching green alternatives for building materials in 2005, CEO Ginger Krieg Dosier became discouraged by the lack of alternatives in the brick and masonry industry. Upon stumbling on the process of how coral builds its various formations by forming calcium carbonate crystals to respond to the sea's pH levels, and after extensive research, she co-founded BioMason, a biotechnology manufacturing company, with her husband in 2012 to transfer the process to brick making.
To make the bricks, the staff first packs sand into rectangular molds. The sand is then inoculated with Sporosarcina pasteurii, a natural bacteria that bonds to the grains of sand. Calcium carbonate crystals begin to form between the two substances, while an irrigation system feeds the bacteria nutrient–rich water to expedite the process. For a three- to five-day period, the crystals continue to grow and fill in spaces between grains of sand, until a cohesive brick is formed. While the technique may seem complicated, it mirrors the creation of biological cement, in which hard natural material holds various rocks together.
When the bricks are finished, the water is recycled and reused for the next batch, making the process as green as possible. The finished products are strong enough for use in houses, commercial buildings, and other structures, but the process currently produces only 5,000 bricks every two days, a relatively low output for masonry.
BioMason plans to make these bricks commercially available by 2017.
To read more about BioMason, visit Inc.