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The North Carolina-based startup has found a way to create masonry without heat or clay
The handwritten sign hangs on the wall of an office in BioMason’s Raleigh, North Carolina, headquarters: “I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.” The quote comes from Matt Damon’s character in The Martian, who, stranded on the dusty Red Planet, has no choice but to innovate to survive.
“Very inspirational,” says Ginger Krieg Dosier, BioMason’s co-founder and CEO, of the 2015 sci-fi film. “Lots of challenges that were taken as opportunities.”
BioMason is a forward-thinking startup, but makes its products using a process that’s millions of years old. Founded in 2012 by Dosier and her husband, Michael, the building-materials company grows bricks and masonry from scratch without the need for any heat. While traditional brick-making requires blasting clay in kilns at 2,000 degrees for several days–thereby releasing massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere–BioMason injects sand with microorganisms to initiate a process like the one that creates coral. The technique takes four days, and when complete the bricks are strong enough for use in houses, commercial buildings, and other structures.
If this all sounds a little suspect to you, Dosier understands. But she’s done her homework. “I knocked on a lot of doors of scientists and microbiologists,” she says of her time spent researching BioMason’s brick-making method, “and they were kind enough to not tell me I was crazy.” Investors agreed: BioMason earned $2.8 million in seed funding, grants, and awards, most of it during 2013, including €500,000 from the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, with a jury chaired by Richard Branson. […]