Researchers Create Drywall Bricks for Housing


A team from Washington State University recently announced that it has developed a building system made from “low-value construction waste.”

The Research

The goal, according to the university, is to reduce waste while creating affordable housing.

In 2014, contractors disposed of 534 million tons of waste, tripling since 2003. Drywall, also known as gypsum board or sheetrock, is cost-effective but wasteful to install, according to researchers, who add that building a 2,000 square-foot home generates more than a ton of drywall scrap.

So, the team, which includes Taiji Miyasaka, professor in the School of Design and Construction; David Drake, adjunct faculty in the School of Design and Construction; and Robert Richards, a professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, began developing the drywall blocks in 2017 with a grant from the American Institute of Architects. They also recently received an Amazon Catalyst grant to move the project from laboratory scale to a demonstration structure.

The blocks are made from 80% drywall waste and a binder made from industrial byproducts. They are waterproof and lighter than earth blocks, bricks or concrete blocks, said Miyasaka. The researchers are partnering with local contractors to get the waste, and architecture students are using a press to build the blocks, which look like masonry bricks.

“The bricks are similar to adobe or compress earth blocks,” Drake said, “but our blocks are superior, especially for insulation.”

In the next year, the researchers will be testing the blocks to meet building, seismic and fire codes. They also aim to build a 160-square-foot demonstration structure.

The team’s work, featuring a prototype of drywall-based bricks, is currently on display at the Washington State History Museum in an exhibit focused on the history of recycling.


Tagged categories: Brick; Drywall; Good Technical Practice; NA; North America; Research; Research and development

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