Scott Bros has announced that it has made a breakthrough in its quest to create a unique brick engineered from recycled waste clay.
The firm’s scientist Feysal Shifa has succeeded in producing three prototype bricks which are already attracting interest from one of the UK’s major housebuilders, together with an Australian company specialising in recycled products.
Stockton-based Scott Bros says that while it has perfected a method of binding the material together, further research is now required to lower production costs to ensure the bricks are commercially viable.
If successful, the product could allow the construction industry to improve its sustainability, enabling it to use a greater proportion of recycled resources and materials.
The family-run business has long been searching for a practical use for the fine-grained clay material. a by-product of its £1m wash plant that converts construction and excavation waste into high quality sand and aggregates.
It is currently investing £4m in a second and much larger wash plant – capable of handling 50 tons of inert material per hour – in South Bank, Middlesbrough, adjacent to the Teesworks site.
Currently the clay, known as ‘filter cake’, is virtually worthless and is used as BS-certified pond lining clay or inert engineering fill.
Bob Borthwick, a director at Scott Bros, said: “A number of organisations around the world have been trying to perfect a cementitious product that can be made into a brick – bit it is Scott Bros that has made the breakthrough right here on Teesside.
“If we can now lower the production cost, this could create jobs as well as a whole new revenue stream. To have even produced a protype brick is an amazing achievement.
“We have already been contacted by a major UK housebuilder which is keen to trial our bricks, along with a company in Australia. These recycled bricks could be a real gamechanger for the circular economy as well as the UK construction industry, helping reduce this country’s carbon footprint.”
Scott Bros set up its own laboratory earlier this year and employed Teesside University graduate Feysal as its recycling innovation engineer.
He was also involved in previous research into the filter cake, conducted by Teesside University on behalf of Scott Bros, as part of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) designed to help businesses innovate through academic support.
Feysal added: “While we need to carry out further research to perfect this recycled brick – a first of its kind – it represents a real breakthrough which could have far-reaching consequences as this country transitions to a net zero future.”
Dr David Hughes, Associate Professor in the School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies at Teesside University, said: “Developing new materials and processes which reduce the environmental impact of engineering forms a key pillar of Teesside University’s research output. Therefore, we are delighted to have played a role in the development of this new material which could have a major impact on the construction industry.”