On the most excellent advice of my blog-readers, I have added D-Lab to my schedule. This involved dropping a few other activities of minor importance (biking for fun, blogging, sleep) but hey, saving the world involves sacrifice, right?
I’m working on designing something that makes Interlocking Stabilized Soil Bricks. Basically, it’s a machine that applies some sort of pressure to some mixture of dirt and concrete. It has to be able to make a strong brick using pressure instead of heat. Also, the bricks should have a shape that lets them interlock, so that they don’t need mortar to hold together.
And of course the machine should be fast and cheap and easy to use and produce strong, perfect bricks.
My group is throwing around all sorts of ideas to apply pressure right now; screws, levers, pulleys, impacts, vibration, the soul-crushing weight of all the work at MIT … But what we could use are facts.
Do you know how Zambian/Malawian/Ghanaian dirt compares to dirt commonly found in, say… Massachusetts? Or what sort of building materials are just laying around in these countries? What sort of skills people have? Have you used one of the existing machines, like in the picture? How was it? What sort of buildings do local people usually build (round? square? tall?)?
Did you play with mud as a child? I’ll take any leads…