Improvement of the making process of ceramic bricks: Exploration addressed to low-income communities in Arusha, Tanzania
This venture project is being developed in the context of the Engineering Design classes "Humanitarian Engineering Materials" and "Designing for Developing Communities", both led by Dr. Esther Obonyo. This is a group work developed in a multidisciplinary way, the group is composed by Crystel Abdallah (International Affairs Grad Student), Madeline Hessmann (Engineering Undergrad Student), John Iffert (Civil Engineering), Jonathan Lee (International Affairs), Sumit Pareek (Chemical Engineering), and Tessa Sontheimer (Community, Environment, and Development), and me from Architecture.
The main goal of the project is to explore ways of improving the bricks making process in low-income communities in the region of Arusha in Tanzania where the need for housing in growing rapidly. The main problem addressed is the inefficiency of the brick making process, which is characterized by the waste of energy and natural resources, affecting in the long term the community environments. One of the potential solutions proposed for the team is to decrease the amount of time and energy used in the firing process by applying the cold-sintering technique in the firing method. The Cold-sintering technique is an innovative densification of materials method developed by Dr. Clive Randall and other researchers at the Materials Research Institute at Penn State .
Other alternatives are also being studied, for instance improving the insulation materials for existent kilns, and the design of the kilns. In addition to this, the team is also looking at ways of improving kilns and cookstoves using low-cost materials such as adobe and soil cement.