One of the biggest hassles of site work in construction is the hauling away of spoils. It’s costly and time consuming to bring in truck after truck to take unneeded soil off to an unknown dump site. When Elon Musk and his team, The Boring Company, started digging a tunnel for a HyperLoop system in Los Angeles, they knew there had to be a better way to handle to soil than to haul it away.
In a recent livestreamed company event for The Boring Company, Musk announced that his team on site had been using the on-site soil to make bricks for the tunnel. By compressing the dirt, mixed with a little bit of “concrete” at an extremely high pressure, Musk says they’ve created a brick that is rated for not only California seismic load, but actually a higher compressive strength than concrete CMU block.
“They’re really great bricks, you can like build houses with them and things,” Musk said at the event, with a grin.
The Boring Company’s project leader said that soil exporting costs for the project would have amounted to 15-20% of the total cost of the tunnel project had they not figured out a way to reuse the soil. The two talked about looking into either selling the bricks for 10 cents apiece or just giving them away.
The company has several ideas for what to use the bricks for, such as for affordable housing, giant Lego bricks to build monuments in your back yard, or sell them, as mentioned above.
This isn't Musk's first endeavor into disrupting the construction industry. Last year, one of his other companies, Tesla, began selling solar roof shingles that look almost identical to traditional roof shingles.
You can see the conversation surrounding the brick/blocks below, starting at 16:27. I started the video there for your convenience, but if you’d like to start the video before that timestamp, you’ll have to scroll back to the beginning.
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