WSU Researchers Get Grant for Drywall Bricks


Researchers from Washington State University announced that they received a commercialization grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The two-year grant will support the development of a market-ready, non-structural prototype of researchers building materials from construction waste for interior applications.

WSU researchers began developing the technology in 2017 with the aim to reduce waste, create affordable building materials and lower housing costs.

The team includes Taiji Miyasaka, professor, and David Drake, scholarly assistant professor in the School of Design and Construction, along with DTG Recycle, the Pacific Northwest’s largest recycler of construction waste.

The group is building a full-scale wall assembly to demonstrate the viability of the building materials in real-world applications.

The Research

The group focuses on drywall, also known as gypsum board or sheetrock, which is a common, inexpensive building material known for its fire-proofing qualities and easy installation. According to WSU, 10-12% of the material is discarded on construction sites, resulting in 10 million tons dumped in landfills each year, making up about 9% of all construction waste.

Researchers also note that soil bacteria decompose the gypsum when it’s put into landfills, which releases a noxious gas that has results in some cities banning the material from landfills altogether.

Miyasaka and Drake developed a process that pulverizes the drywall scrap and turns it into a useable building material. The waste is mixed with water and carbon-neutral binders and pressed into building blocks using a low-energy compaction process. The blocks can be made onsite using portable machines or offsite using existing machinery at conventional masonry plants and can use up to 90% of the drywall waste.

The researchers maintain that the blocks are durable, fireproof, and weigh half as much as conventional bricks, all while providing more insulation value than traditional concrete blocks.

In addition to receiving the Murdock grant, the research group is one of five finalists in the upcoming International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Center’s Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Building, where they have been selected to pitch the project at an investor forum later this month.

The team has received funding from the American Institute of Architects’ Upjohn Research Initiative Grant, the WSU Commercialization Gap Fund, an Amazon Catalyst Grant and the National Science Foundation Innovation-Corps program.


Tagged categories: Brick; Drywall; Good Technical Practice; Grants; NA; North America; Recycled building materials; Research and development

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.