Concrete-Eating Robot

Knocking down a concrete building usually takes brute force: Wrecking balls, huge excavators, or explosives rip apart walls while fire hoses spray water to keep the clouds of dust down. It’s an energy-intensive process, and after everything’s been torn apart, the concrete often ends up in a landfill or has to be trucked to a recycling facility. But a new concrete-erasing robot may eventually transform the messy business of demolition.

The ERO (short for “erosion”) robot uses water to disassemble concrete and then sucks all of the separate components--cement, sand, and aggregate--neatly into different packages for reuse. “High-pressure water jets attack the micro cracks on the concrete surface, making it come apart,” explains Omer Haciomeroglu, a student at Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden, who designed the robot last year. "It leaves the metal rebar inside naked and ready for reuse."

Since all the materials can be separated on site, the process avoids the costs and pollution of transporting heavy chunks of concrete and metal to recycling plants. Haciomeroglu envisions a new business model: When a building comes down, the demolition crew could set up a station nearby to turn the materials into new prefab building blocks, and then those could be sold directly to someone constructing a new building in the neighborhood.

"You can reutilize it within the city, without actually sending it far away to be crushed down, separated, and all of that mess," he says.

The machine runs on electric power, and actually recollects some of its own energy; as the vacuum sucks recycled concrete down a tube, the moving air generates electricity that the system can reuse.

Source: fastcoexist.comAdded: 22 April 2014