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Robot is 1-Stop Building Demo Shop

Monday, August 12, 2013

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An award-winning, multitasking robot named ERO may be the next hero of the building demolition and materials recycling industries.

ERO "literally erases the building," according to developer Omer Haciomeroglu, a student at Sweden's Umeå Institute of Design, who recently accepted an international award for his technology.

The Concrete Deconstruction Robot can reportedly help demolish a building; sort the rebar and concrete rubble for recycling; and extract, clean and package the material for reuse.

The capability is akin to near-one-stop shopping for demolition, recycling and reuse in order to convert building waste to reusable assets.

Photos: ERO

ERO robot technology is designed to crush, retrieve, separate, clean and package concrete and rebar from demolition. The invention was honored by the Industrial Designers Society of America.

ERO and Haciomeroglu captured the 2013 International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America in the Student Designs category.

What it Does

According to the equipment literature, ERO uses water jets to crack concrete surfaces in order to disassemble the concrete and suck up the mixed debris. The technology allows the concrete to break apart without damaging the rebar, which can "peel off the concrete smartly," the literature says.

ERO then "cleanly separates" the waste and packages and labels the cleaned material for reuse.

Only clean bags of aggregate are reused, and only rust- and dust-free rebar is cut and reused, the literature says.

Such technology could radically change not only the face of demolition but the future of reusable building materials, its developers say.


Developers say the new technology can replace multiple stages and pieces of equipment during building demolition, clean-up and recycling.

As Haciomeroglu writes in his project entry:

"Current concrete-demolition techniques require a lot of power crushing, separation and machinery, not to mention they waste a lot of water in order to prevent dust blooms during operation.

"Transferring waste material to recycle stations outside the city wastes time, the end result of which means that the materials can be reused only in very limited areas."

How it was Developed

Haciomeroglu describes his development process in detail in his literature.

He says the project began with "the usual research phase" that included interviewing field engineers and a recycling company. He took field trips to Moscow, where he took video footage of "highly prestigious construction sites" that he examined in detail later.

He also traveled to Sweden, where he consulted with mechanical engineers and marketing professionals and learned the basic mechanics. Additional field study took him to Vienna, Austria, he says.

Phase 2 involved scale models, sketches, animated simulations, and component layout strategy.


Inventor Omer Haciomeroglu, a student at Sweden's Umeå Institute of Design, conducted field work and research in Sweden, Austria, and Russia.

"The technology was there, so I had to lay it out properly and logically to serve the solution purposes of the project," reports Haciomeroglu, who is available by email for more information.

He continued to consult designers and engineers throughout the development process.

"I have tried to stick with the existing technologies and adapt them as a part of the solution," he writes.

'Smart' Demolition

Although the equipment has not been commercialized, Haciomeroglu calls it a "near-future solution."

His greatest challenge during development, he wrote, was how to make ERO demolish (he prefers the term "deconstruct") and separate the materials simultaneously.

"Concrete is usually reinforced with a metal mesh inside," he writes. "Common techniques involve using brute force to pulverize the concrete, which creates a mixed mound of waste material that needs to be separated before it can be reused or sold as second-grade metal or as a filling material.

"In order to overcome later separation and ease the transport of materials, the process had to start with separation on the spot. It was a challenge to switch from brutal pulverizing to smart deconstruction."


ERO has not been commercialized, but its inventor calls it a "near future" solution.

The separation technology is a Centrifugal Decanter, used in several industries to separate solids from liquids, he writes.

The equipment uses omnicrawler technology, now being developed in Japan, to move through doorways and reposition freely. The system requires no hydraulic stabilizers, Haciomeroglu writes.

Tomorrow's Demolition Site

Haciomeroglu offers this vision of a future ERO work site:

"An autonomous fleet of ERO Concrete Recycling Robots is placed strategically within the building. They scan the surroundings and determine a route with which they will execute during the operation.

"Once ERO starts working, it literally erases the building. ERO deconstructs with high-pressure water and sucks and separates the mixture of aggregate, cement and water. It then sends aggregate and filtered cement slurry separately down to the packaging unit to be contained.


"Once ERO starts working, it literally erases the building," the developer reports.

"Clean aggregate is packed into big bags, which are labeled and sent to nearby concrete precast stations for reuse. Water is recycled back into the system. The packaging unit provides ERO with vacuum suction and electrical power.

"Turbulence dynamos placed within the air suction route produces some percent of power that ERO needs. ERO uses less than what it gets.

"Nothing is placed in landfills or sent away for additional processing. Even the rebar is cleaned of concrete, dust and rust and is ready to be cut and reused immediately. Every bit of the load-bearing structure is reusable for new building blocks."


Tagged categories: Awards and honors; Concrete; Construction; Demolition; Engineers; Industrial design; Program/Project Management; Rebar; Recycled building materials; Research; Steel

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