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Bricks that are like Legos
By Michelle Robertson
The new Smart Brick is an exciting development for the construction industry that offersa less expensive and more efficient material for building houses. This invention could be particularly important for new housing in poverty stricken areas. The bricks are like Lego toys in that they come in a variety of forms for different purposes, and easily connect together without the need for cement. Ronnie Zohar was inspired to develop these bricks with energy-saving features when he realised that the problem of heating or cooling a building doesn’t come from air escaping through windows or doors but mostly through concrete.
He says that the Smart Bricks have the ability to cut energy costs by around 30% for a standard five storey building, plus a saving of a whopping 50% on construction costs. Other impressive features include internal spaces for plumbing and wiring, plus removable panels which allow for easy access so that portions of walls don't need to be torn down for maintenance.
Smart Bricks took several years to develop, and one of the most tricky elements to overcome was making them both lightweight and yet "strong as steel". The bricks are bonded together with a very powerful adhesive and steel bars can be slotted through channels in the bricks for reinforcement. They are currently still in theprototype stage, but Ronnie has a vision of what they can bring to the world: “I'd like people in Africa and other underdeveloped places, to be able to build with our bricks and get thermally-insulated houses for the same amount of money they would have spent on a shabby tin dwelling.”