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January 13th, 2011

NPR: Haitians take rubble removal into own hands

Published on January 13th, 2011 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

(Credit: Jonathan Pankau/Wikimedia Commons.)

Last week we had about a report from researchers at Georgia Tech who show how concrete rubble from the earthquake can be safely recycled into stronger concrete using local resources and manual production and mixing techniques.

As a follow-up to this, I want to highlight an NPR story first broadcast yesterday regarding the challenge of the dealing with the rubble and how Haitians are already using manual rubble-crushing equipment brought in from Swaziland and recycling it:

“The machine’s parts are carried up the labyrinth of tiny walkways. Then the machine is reassembled and the crushing begins. It’s hard work, says Amos Laguerre, who makes about $5 a day cranking.

It takes three men to get the job done; two crank the handles, while the third drops boulder-size debris between the metal crushers. Singing helps the men get through the mind-numbing labor.

The crumbled rubble is collected in buckets. Sand and gravel are separated into plastic bags. On a good day, the crew fills 125 bags, about 5 cubic meters.

No one says this is a solution to the city’s rubble problem, but it is making a difference in small neighborhoods like Delmas 62. The bags of recycled rubble are mixed with cement and poured to make the foundations of temporary wooden shelters CRS gives to residents.”

As Georgia Tech’s experts point out, however, unless some simple-to-implement standards for concrete composition are adopted, the new concrete will likely be far below minimum construction standards and prone to new earthquake damage.


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2 Responses to NPR: Haitians take rubble removal into own hands

  1. mike B. says:

    I am confused. Why can’t the Haitian, or US government, for that matter, set up a NON-manual crusher, and use trucks and bulldozers to truck the rubble to a restoration site? And also, truck the restored, usable concrete back to building sites?
    And, at the same time, set up a PLAN for immediate, temporary shelters, to be turned into other facilities, while more permanent housing is to be built. Some of the rubble can be used as crushed rock for road building and land control.
    The new buildings should be as green-designed as possible, and solar panel factories set up as well. Water and sanitation would of course be included in any urban design, but, the point would be to have some tiered or triage development, section by section, area by area, growing with the use of “Free” concrete and re-bar.

  2. I am interested in following up with interested parties the re-use of rubble for new blocks and poured building components. The machines have proven to pay their way (economically sustainable) and the throughput is higher than anticipated. I was told 30% will pass through a mosquito net. That means a 2.5.

    We are tweaking the design of the crusher to suit Haiti. Particle shape and size is still not well characterised. I would love to get a particle size profile in 4.3, 2.15, 1.2, 0.6, 0.3, 0.15 and 0,075mm.

    Concrete roof tiles need FM 2.25. Cheaper than corrugated iron though more roof wood (maybe pre-stressed concrete purlins?).

    We also need to produce more efficient cooking stove using concrete, for institutional cooking. If interested in large stove designs for fuel efficiency contact me directly.

    Thanks for publicising high tech ideas in low tech form!

    New Dawn Engineering (.com)
    crispin at newdawn dot sz

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