The Building Eating Robot

Interesting Engineering

Demolition of high rise buildings is a rather dangerous and messy task, especially in densely populated areas. It also requires a lot of heavy machinery.  Now, a Turkish student by the name Omer Haciomeroglu has won the 2013 International Design Excellence Award for mechanical design from the Industrial Designers Society on America with a robot that can potentially eat concrete and erase a building with no trace, whilst reusing all the extracted material.

omer_haciomeroglu_ero_1[Image Source: Omer]

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot was designed to efficiently disassemble concrete structures without any waste, dust or separation and enable reclaimed building materials to be reused for new prefabricated concrete buildings,” explained Haciomeroglu of the Umea Institute of Design.

The robots (almost resembling WALL-E in design form and use) will have the ability to scan a building and plan out the most efficient route before blasting the wall with a water jet to break up the concrete. The robot will then use a vacuum to suck the material away, splitting it into aggregate, cement and water. The water can be reused in the system while the aggregate and cement can be reused in concrete once again.

omer_haciomeroglu_ero_2[Image Source: Omer]

Compare that to the mess left behind after using heavy machinery to demolish a building. A lot of water is wasted and the material mostly ends up in landfills.

“Even the rebar is cleaned of concrete, dust and rust and is ready to be cut and reused immediately,” Haciomeroglu stated. “Every bit of the load-bearing structure is reusable for new building blocks.

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[Image Source: Omer]

It all seems too perfect but the design seems fairly logical. The high-pressure water infiltrates cracks in the surface peeling off the concrete. The rebar is left in its original shape with even the rust washed off. A centrifugal decanter then uses centrifugal force to separate the solid and liquid parts. These are then either packaged and sent off for reuse or can be reused on site for the new building that will fill the new empty space. The bots use special omni-directional tracks that can spin on two different axis meaning it can move in any direction without actually turning.

omer_haciomeroglu_ero_3[Image Source: Omer]

Haciomeroglu envisages fleets of autonomous robots being set to work to strip a building and pretty much left to get on with it. This is still at concept design stage, however it is reported that influential organisations are starting to grant attention and there's no denying that it is a great idea.

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