An engineer from Gaza City in Palestine has invented a material which he claims is as an alternative to cement.
Imad al-Khalidi started developing the product due to a shortage of construction materials in his homeland.
This is partly due to the devastation caused by three Israeli invasions over the last six years, which have destroyed or damaged more than 84,000 houses.
In addition, an ongoing blockade by Israel aims to prevent construction materials from entering Gaza.
Many Palestinians are frustrated by the high cost and slow pace of rebuilding their homes, and find construction materials expensive and difficult to obtain, according to Al Monitor.
However, Khalidi may have found a solution which addresses the problem.
In 2008, he started experiments on materials that could be used in construction instead of cement, and claims to have created a product that can be used as an alternative.
Khalidi said: “We wanted to use local materials as an alternative, to save ourselves and provide the displaced with shelters, as nearly 5,000 housing units were destroyed in the 2008-2009 war.
“We examined various types of soil in Gaza, and found a suitable type rich in natural welding materials, such as potassium carbonate, magnesium, metal oxides, limestone and sand.”
He explained the natural materials he uses act like cement in its different stages, but they are more solid and can last hundreds of years.
Khalidi described the process: “We compose a homogeneous mixture by conducting a soil treatment through pressure, to which we add welding natural materials such as potassium carbonate, ground limestone powder and a small quantity of gypsum, to form an initial coherent product in the brick production.
“Yet, the strong cohesion begins after it is used and continues to solidify for hundreds of years, and to harden dozens of times more than its initial form. This means that the brick increasingly hardens with time.”
Khalidi established in 2009 his own factory to produce local bricks in different sizes. As demand has increased, he has boosted production capacity and can now deliver up to 50,000 bricks per day. He recently opened another factory.
At present, the material is being used only for construction of shelters, which Khalidi describes as a “great challenge” because of the recent devestation.
He charges the same price as cement to companies wanting to build new homes, but knocks 25% off for shelter projects.