Demolition is a messy business—not only does the process require heavy machinery and produce clouds of dust, but it also results in giant piles of rubble that often head straight for the landfill. Omer Haciomeroglu, a student at Sweden’s Umeå Institute of Design has designed Ero – a robot that recycles concrete in an energy-efficient manner and separates it from rebar and other debris on the spot. The project won the 2013 International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) in the Student Designs category.
Heavy machines used in demolition consume large amounts of energy in order to crush concrete walls into small pieces, not to mention that demolition processes have to be accompanied by large amounts of water sprayed onto the structures to prevent the spread of dust. Once the work is done, the rubble is transported to recycle stations where waste is separated manually. Power crushers are used to pulverize the concrete and the metal is melted for reuse.
ERO Concrete Recycling Robot can efficiently disassemble concrete structures without any waste, dust or additional separation. It is strategically placed in a building in order to scan the environment and determine the optimal way in which the operation should be executed. This smart robot has the option of switching between pulverizing and smart deconstruction modes, taking buildings down step by step. It enables reclaimed building materials to be reused as prefab concrete elements by utilizing a water jet to crack the concrete surface, separate the waste and package the dust-free material.
After deconstructing the structure with high-pressure water and sucking and separating the aggregate, cement and water, the ERO robot recycles the water back into the system. Clean aggregate is packed and labeled to be sent to concrete precast stations for reuse, while rebar is cleaned and cut, ready to be reused.
One of the goals of this project was to provide a smart and sustainable near-future approach to the demolition operations that will facilitate reuse as much as possible. Today, operators manually control different sized heavy machinery, which consume a lot of energy to smash and crush the concrete structure into dusty bits. Water has to be sprayed constantly with fire hoses to prevent harmful dust from spreading. After the work is done, big machines scoop up the rebar and concrete mixture and transfer them to the recycle stations outside the city where the waste is separated manually. Concrete needs to be crushed with power crushers in several stages, the end result of which it can only be used for simple construction layouts. The metal is melted for reuse.