With discarded gypsum drywall being a major source of waste from buildings (it accounts for 10 million tons of landfill waste in the U.S. each year), it’s exciting that new drywall recycling alternatives are being developed.
Washington State University (WSU) School of Design + Construction professors proposed using pulverized drywall to make masonry drywall waste block (DWB). Their technique is less expensive than other drywall recycling initiatives and scalable with potential industry-wide impact.
Preliminary strength testing indicates that DWBs behave similarly in compression to conventional CMUs, but at half the weight. Even more remarkably, DWBs are excellent insulators, with an estimated R-value 10 times greater than that of their concrete counterparts. While DWBs could be produced with industry-standard CMU manufacturing equipment, the WSU researchers say, the production process could be mobile as well, allowing builders to recycle scrap on site or anywhere convenient.
Still, the researchers acknowledge, introducing a load-bearing exterior block product to market could take a decade due to the extensive and requisite third-party testing to certify its safety and performance. Meanwhile, the researchers are exploring nonbearing DWB applications, such as interior wall cladding, flooring, and exterior hardscaping and seating, and have already produced several concept samples with different colors and textures. Read the full story in Architect Magazine.