Amador Garcia

A group of researchers at Washington State University is developing a solution for drywall waste from demolition and construction. According to the researchers, drywall is only recycled if it is turned into fertilizer, which leads to a recycle rate of lower than 20% in Washington state, local television station KXLY reports.

[The researchers] created a drywall waste block (DWB). It’s exactly how it sounds – a solid brick made up of old drywall. It looks like any regular cement block you buy at the store. WSU researchers David Drake and Taiji Miyasaki are the minds behind the project.

They blend up the drywall, and send it right into what looks like a giant kitchen blender for around fifteen minutes. From there, they send it into a machine to be molded into the shape of a block.

“The fact is, you get about 10 million tons in the U.S. of drywall waste, goes to the landfill every year,” Drake said.

Drake and Miyasaki also came up with a foamed drywall that’s more flame resistant than your average Styrofoam insulation. When that plastic material starts burning in a building setting, it creates a chimney effect. Drake said their foamed drywall material takes around two and a half hours to burn through.

Now that they’ve finalized the product properties, they said their next step is to talk to construction companies about how they can tailor these blocks to building projects. Researchers hope a manufacturer will license their products and start using them to build within the next two years.

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