Cow dung isn't usually thought of as house-building material, but a team of students from Prasetiya Mulya Business School in Indonesia have managed to build high-quality, low-cost bricks from the stuff. The team's invention, dubbed "EcoFaeBrick", won the $25,000 top prize at the University of California, Berkeley's Global Social Venture Competition.
EcoFaeBrick is meant for developing regions in Indonesia, where cow dung is plentiful but traditional brick-making materials like firewood and clay are not. According to the Prasetiya team, the EcoFaeBrick is 20% lighter than a clay brick and 20% stronger in compressive strength. Unlike firewood, cow dung is completely renewable--as long as there are cows roaming around. By using cow dung instead of firewood 1,692 tons of CO2 are saved. And replacing clay with the poop prevents the massive damage to the land that comes with clay excavation.
Other finalists in the Social Venture Competition include Bright Mind LABS computer game for autistic children, SolarCycle's low-cost reflective material for solar concentrators, and mPedigree Logistics' anti-counterfeit solution for pharmaceutical companies. All worthy projects, to be sure, but it's hard to beat the endless joke potential of cow dung bricks.