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Using the power of a natural, microbial process we can make net-zero and waste negative masonry; lowering the carbon emissions of the construction industry.

  • A solidified plate showing difference calcite amounts throughout

  • An example of a solid testing cylinder.

  • A less solid testing cylinder used during our iterative phase

  • Our bacteria growing on agar

  • Our bacteria growing on agar

What it does

The construction supplies industry is responsible for 23% of global carbon emissions and the mining of nearly 60 billion tons of raw material every year. The Bio-Brick solves both these issues by using a carbon-neutral process and using recycled materials.

Your inspiration

At a previous co-op job, we witnessed the effects that building materials had on those that use them. High temperatures and dangerous fumes lead to serious health effects over the years and were present in almost all the workers. After further research, we realized that the construction supplies industry hasn't seen much innovation since portland cement in the 1860s. The solution came from research on self-healing cement where microbes were used to fill gaps in cracked concrete. By readjusting this process we can create supplies with similar properties and a competitive price that makes the manufacturing process completely sustainable.

How it works

There is a microbial process in which certain bacteria, in the right conditions, can create stone out of easy-to-find minerals. These bacteria are suspended in an aggregate and saturated using these minerals suspended in water. The aggregate we use is a recycled sand or demolition waste that is then placed in a form. The bacteria forms stone between the aggregate and effectively connect all the particles using these stone bridges. This process can take place at room temperature negating the need for ovens or kilns that other materials require. This process creates a final product with the same strength and durability as traditional masonry at the same price. On top of this, the process can be scaled down to fit into portable masonry plants that can be sent to areas where demand is high. This reduces the transportation in the industry and the costs associated as moving masonry is inefficient. This will make net-zero materials viable in the construction industry.

Design process

Our design process started by showing that we could grow the bacteria in a consistent matter and at a low price. During this phase, we tested multiple broths to determine which one grew the bacteria to its maximum cell count in the least amount of time and at what price. During this phase, we tested out 12 different broths and shortlisted 3 that could be used in early-stage prototyping. We also experimented with what volume of bacteria we could grow and how long it would take to get to the max cell count found in test tubes. This would allow us to make larger prototypes. The first prototypes we made took the form of small disks that we used as a fast test to see how the bacterial broths mixed with aggregate and our cementation solution. These were made in small tins with drainage holes cut in the bottom to allow excess cementation solution to run off. These tins were 2” in diameter and 1” deep. 10 of these tins were made all testing different components of our manufacturing process and we used them to determine the best broth and other components for our larger samples. We are currently running tests using cylinders that are 2” in diameter and 2.75” deep. These samples are being used to test structural additives that will give our products a more durable final product.

How it is different

There is currently one company attempting to sell a bacteria brick called Biomason. They sell a product with comparable strength, durability, and installation to clay masonry. The biggest limiting factor is that their process requires the use of 2 kinds of bacteria which increase the sources of error, increase price, and limit manufacturing potential. This is evident by the company’s low output despite high interest and their move towards off-shore manufacturing. MicroBuild’s bio-brick has an advantage over Biomason as our method only uses 1 kind of bacteria. This gives us an advantage over them while still maintaining adequate strength and durability. The use of 1 bacteria lowers the amount of growing broths being used making us more cost-competitive and the chances of a batch of masonry being defective due to an issue with the bacteria are lowered. It also decreases our time to make bricks since we aren't waiting for 2 bacterias to grow.

Future plans

We are looking to expand our prototype production from here to include larger samples for additional strength testing and to get us closer to an MVP. We want to increase the kind of testing we are doing to include both extreme weather testing and long term durability. We are also looking to expand into a new, larger lab space to increase our production and to begin the patent process. These next steps will get it closer to early stage demo works and beginning our seed funding phase. Along with all this we want to expand our team to fill more knowledge gaps in our team and become better rounded.


The first award we have won is the Norman Esch award through the Conrad School of Business. The second is winning the Concept 5k award through the Velocity Incubator at the University of Waterloo. The latest is a 3rd place finish at the RBC Student Pitch Competition through the University of New Brunswick.

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