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Eco-friendly Brick Cuts Pollution, Says Inventor

Ng Yuk-hang – SCMP | Updated on Nov 21, 2008

From now on, there is another excuse to drink beer – provided it is in glass bottles. Glass waste can indirectly help reduce air pollution, according to Poon Chi-sun of Polytechnic University, whose “Eco-Block” won two awards at the 6th International Exhibition of Invention.

The Eco-Block is a brick made from recycled glass and construction waste. Professor Poon and his team say the blocks work by catalysing nitrous oxides, a major greenhouse gas contributor in the atmosphere, into non-hazardous substances. The blocks can reduce the amount of these oxides in the air around them by 20 per cent.

“These bricks can be used to pave pavements in highly polluted areas such as Causeway Bay and Mong Kok,” he said.

The blocks, which cost 20 to 30 per cent more than normal bricks, are already being used at City University, Chinese University and Polytechnic University. Dixon Chan Chun-wan, a former student of Dr Poon, said they started the project about five years ago by picking up glass bottles in the street in Lan Kwai Fong, after noticing that glass was not being recycled in the city.

“Originally, we were unable to convince soft drink companies to give us glass bottles,” he said. “But they are now more willing to recycle.”

The Eco-Block won a gold medal and the special prize at the exhibition in Suzhou last month. Four other inventions captured one gold, two silver and one bronze medal for the university. The gold-medal-winning Fab- ricEye system analyses and grades fabric samples on a five-point scale. Other inventions include a system for forecasting tourism demand and a system that turns 2D technical drawings into 3D images of skyscrapers. The system can mimic every step of the construction process and reduce costs. Jack Chung Kam-hung, technical officer for the project, said: “With this system we can plan the construction schedule more tightly and see if there are design errors – for example, whether two pieces of wall fit together.” He said the system had already been adopted by the city’s top five contractors, including Gammon Construction and China Overseas Holdings, and had been used in planning One Island East, Tseung Kwan O Sports Stadium and the Venetian Hotel in Macau.

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