Thursday, September 24, 2009

Green Bricks - Brought to You by Coal

I would be charitable in describing coal as not the top fuel choice of environmentalists. It's often portrayed as dirty, archaic, grossly polluting, and a reviled icon of the early industrial era. Consumed in its raw form, all of those descriptions are fairly accurate. But the fact is, it's still widely used, and if approaching the energy equation from a national security standpoint, it's a resource we have a great quantity of.

As long as it's a significant part of the energy equation, it means we'll have a significant amount of by-product remaining after burning it. One of the most abundant by-products of burning coal is fly ash. Much like the powdery gray remains after burning wood or charcoal, fly ash is basically the un-burned solids remaining.
CalStar Products of Newark, California, is pioneering production of new "green" bricks which the company claims has 85 percent less "embedded energy" than conventional equivalents. Martin LaMonica at CNET's Green Tech Blog has an excellent post explaining the science and theory behind the product. The bricks are virtually indistinguishable from conventional equivalents, and can help builders raise their LEED rating for projects.

I always get satisfaction when I find entrepreneurs that find a use for heretofore unwanted waste products. I wish CalStar the best in building its business.

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