ERO: Concrete Recycling Robot
Umea Institute of Design
ERO: Concrete Recycling Robot
ERO: Concrete Recycling Robot
ERO is a Concrete Deconstruction Robot designed to disassemble concrete structures and enable the building materials to be re-used for new pre-fabricated concrete buildings. ERO uses water jets to crack the concrete surface to disassemble concrete and sucks up the mixed debris. It cleanly separates the waste mixture and packages the cleaned material. What was previously waste, now turns into labeled packaged asset to be transferred right away into concrete pre-casting stations to be re-molded into new building blocks.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
The challenge with this project was to separate materials at the same time with de-construction. Concrete is usually reinforced with a metal mesh like structure. Today's techniques tend to pulverize this matrix combination with brute hydraulic force which creates a lot of dust and uses a lot of energy. Outcome of this operation creates a mixed mound of waste material which needs to be separated in order to be re-used. Then the separated bits are sold as second grade metal, or as a filling material. In order to overcome later separation and ease the transport of materials The process had to start with separation on the spot. It was a challenge to switch from brutal pulverizing to smart de-construction in keep the whole process clean and simplified. The alternative operation to this was a crowded group of applications which would consume a lot of work time, force, machinery and energy. With the new de-construction system water is re-cycled back into the operation, ERO doesn't waste water like today's systems. Packaging unit provides ERO with vacuum suction, water and electrical power. Turbulence dynamos placed within the air suction route produces some percent of power ERO needs. Nothing is land filled or sent away with extra operations. Rebar is now cleaned from concrete, dust and rust. It is ready to be cut and re-utilized immediately. Every bit of the load bearing structure is reusable for new building blocks. Along the process today's well applied technologies provided me concept level solutions.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Today, operators manually control heavy machinery to crush the concrete structure into dusty bits. All of these machines consume a lot of energy to operate. Water has to be sprayed constantly with fire hoses to prevent harmful dust from spreading around which wastes a lot of water. After the work is done, big machines scoop up the crumpled rebar and concrete mixture and transfer them to the recycle stations outside the city to be separated manually. Concrete needs to be crushed with power crushers in several stages, end result of which can only be used for simple construction layouts and nothing more. The metals are melted to be re-used. These operations all require heavy machinery. Instead; an autonomous fleet of ERO is placed strategically within the building. They scan the surroundings and determine a route with which they execute the operation. Once ERO fleet starts working. they literally erase the building. ERO de-constructs with high pressure water, sucks and separates the mixture of aggregate, cement and water. Then sends aggregate and filtered cement slurry separately down to the packaging unit to be contained. Clean aggregate is packed into labeled big bags and sent to concrete pre-cast stations nearby for re-use. All around the world concrete buildings are being demolished increasingly to make new ones. ERO is an excellent solution for the complexity of today's demolition techniques which consumes a lot of energy to create a lot of waste.In contrast to conventional systems ERO simply turns ''Waste'' into ''Asset''.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
I have started this project with field research with a mixture of interviewing experts of the construction industry, Internet and examination of several case studies on the topic. Interviews included a recycling service provider company representative, construction field managers, architects and field engineers and mechanical engineers. This field research took place in several international locations such as Umea and Orebro in Sweden, Moscow in Russia and St.Valentine in Austria. In Umea and Moscow I have had the chance to visit very big and prestigious construction sites and had the chance to get insights from the field managers in person. I also have taken many video footage of the sites and the interviews to examine and compare later on through the project. These background researches, field and user observations have led me to an analysis that showed me the current complexity and inaccuracy within the construction waste management industry. I moved on with designing an alternative system in contrast to the current one that showed me what the design should be structured like. Once I have shared this new system with engineers and managers and have gotten their interest and approval, I then have moved on with concept refinement stage. Next step was sketching, mock-up model making, CG mock up models and testing. Then I moved on with the final design. I have consulted Mechanical engineers and other professionals along the way to make sure the base structure of the project was in tact. Hydro-demolition, Centrifugal Decanter, Omni-directional tracks are EROs core technologies. Hydro demolition attacks the micro-cracks on the concrete surface and make it come apart. This way you don't damage the rebar but peel off the concrete. It is a well applied technology that is used today to scarify the concrete surfaces or to get rid of them before rebuilding or refurbishment. Centrifugal Decanter is a separation technology being used by several industries for separation. It uses centrifugal force to separate solids from fluids. Omni-directional tracks, is a track system that can move within perpendicular routes without taking turns. This allows ERO to move and re-position freely. It also allows ERO to get rid of the hydraulic stabilizers and simplifies the structure. I came by Hydro-demolition and Centrifugal separator technologies while I was searching for a way to start the separation process from the start of the demolition. Omni crawler technology is a study held by Japan's, Osaka University. I came by it online while I was searching for a way to get rid of hydraulic stabilizers and a way to move / adapt to different ground types within the construction site.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Ero is a totally new way of approaching reinforced concrete demolition. It was intended as a role model project for the industry. It shows that we can look at things in a more smart way and re-use materials as much as we can, just like the nature have been doing for billions of years. Before we structure new sustainable de-constructable ways of building new structures, we will need to re-new the existing ones first. Concrete is a material that has a life time. Approximately after sixty years the structure loses its structural integrity. Today, all around the world many old concrete buildings are being demolished and rebuilt for this reason. Tons and tons of concrete will have to be either land filled or somehow re-utilized by means that will waste so much energy water and time. Before we move on with our future smart way of constructing or replacing buildings, we will have to remove those that are expired. ERO will provide a sustainable way to take the expired concrete buildings away and enable them to be used for new buildings. All of these will be done autonomously with accuracy and energy efficiency. Instead of watching load trucks carrying waste material outside of the city and dump them onto land fill areas, we will see clean packaged assets moving around the city being transported into their new location.