UCT unveils biobrick made from urine


THE world’s first bio-brick grown from human urine signals an innovative paradigm shift in waste recovery.

The brick is the brainchild of University of Cape Town (UCT) master’s student in civil engineering Suzanne Lambert.

Dr Dyllon Randall, Lambert’s supervisor and senior lecturer in water quality at UCT, comments: “The bio-bricks are created through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation. It’s not unlike the way seashells are formed.”

In this case, loose sand is colonised with bacteria that produce the enzyme urease, which breaks down the urea in urine while producing calcium carbonate through a complex chemical reaction. This cements the sand into any shape, whether it’s a solid column, or now, for the first time, a rectangular building brick.

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