Published: 08th September 2021
India's first bio-brick structure was inaugurated at IIT Hyderabad. Here's the team behind the sustainable brick
India’s first bio-brick room was inaugurated at IIT Hyderabad recently. We catch up with the lead innovator, and find out what makes his creation special
Circa 2009, Priyabrata Rautray was in Delhi, completing his Bachelor’s in Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture. Every winter, the air in Delhi gets thick and laden with a smog that grips the city in a chokehold. The source? Burning of the rejects from the harvest, commonly known as stubble, in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. “That deadly air pollution makes headlines every year, but by the time summer comes, people forget about it,” says Priyabrata, who is currently pursuing his PhD at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad.
“Fertile top soil is used to manufacture red bricks, causing massive soil erosion. Bio-bricks can help check that as well,” says Priyabrata
A solution that serves all
As a student of architecture, Priyabrata says that he had also been bothered by the “dead load” that forms a part of high-rise buildings. Wide beams or pillars are constructed to support the weight of the walls made with heavy bricks. Concrete, cement and metal rods that go into the construction of the beam are the most expensive materials in construction. “The simple fix is to have lighter bricks” says Priyabrata.
India’s first biobrick-based structure being inaugurated at IIT-Hyderabad
A product that was six years in the making for this Master of Product Design gradute, bio-bricks were crafted as a plausible solution to both those problems. Made out of agri-waste and sun dried to reduce pollution that arises from burning bricks, these bio-bricks are one-tenth the weight of a concrete block and one-third the price of red bricks. On September 2, the team at IIT-H that had worked on the project unveiled India’s first bio-brick structure — a guard room made entirely out of the sustainable material. The project was part of IIT-H’s BUILD initiative that empowers student projects and ideas with funds and direction. Priyabrata also credits Professor Deepak John Matthew from IIT-H for provding him with tools and guidance throuhgout.
Inside the technology
In April this year, Priyabrata, with project partner Avik Roy and team, was awarded the patent for the technology. The guard’s office was constructed eight months ago and it has endured Hyderabad’s harsh summers and moody monsoons, and has stood the test of time. Priyabrata claims that compared to the usual metal room, the bio-bricks structure will be eight degrees cooler and will provide cosy insulation during Hyderabad’s notoriously cold winter nights.
Tried and tested:The bio brick is bound with lime and cement, which produces carbon dioxide when exposed to heat, and prevents it from being inflammable
The structure might be a good demonstration for an urban implementation of the technology, but Priyabrata has greater ambitions. “My aim is to propagate this in the rural Punjab and Haryana where stubble burning is an issue and in the cotton and jowar belt of Telangana where a huge portion of the plant is simply wasted and cannot be turned into fodder,” explains the 34-year-old. He says farmers can create bricks out of their crop rejects during the off season, instead of migrating to cities in search of menial jobs.