A team of Portuguese researchers established that used grains added to bricks boost the insulating abilities of the building material by creating tiny air pockets.
Sometimes, reading about such groundbreaking discoveries leaves us questioning how did the team come up with the idea of such experiment. Well, in this case it seems it is a bit easier, although this is a pure speculation, but it surely looks like the guys were simply trying to scientifically prove that beer helps you fight the winter chills.
Of course, this is not the story they presented in the journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, where the study appeared earlier in November. The aim they state in their publication is to establish a way to recycle waste containing spent grains into a useful and very sustainable material.
The main challenge faced by Eduardo Ferraz, lead author of the publication, and his team from the Universitario de Santiago, Portugal, was to incorporate the byproduct of brewing into a paste that can be used to build ceramic bricks. Then, they had to find a way to bring down the high thermal conductivity of the paste, but preserve the mechanical strength of the final product. When they added the grains to the typical brick paste, the guys established that as little as 5 percent of grains in the mixture can boost the insulation abilities of the product by the incredible 30 percent, while still being just as strong.
The secret was hidden in the small pockets that form inside the clay during the mixing. These are filled with air, which consequently contributes to the improved thermal performance. According to the scientists, the same results could be achieved when polystyrene pellets are used, however these synthetics are quite costly to produce and do not do any good to the environment.
The only limitation that the team was able to outline, is the almost unbearable smell released during the production process, coming from the fermented grain. Apparently once the bricks are made, they no longer have this smell, but many might not get to the end product simply because they cannot last through the process.
Now, wouldn’t it be great to know that as you drink your beer and warm yourself on the inside, you’re no longer polluting the environment, but rather you encourage recycling and help many keep their houses nice and cosy.