What is ERO? ERO is a concept role model Concrete Deconstruction Robot designed to disassemble concrete structures and enable the building materials to be re-used for new pre-fabricated concrete buildings. Current techniques of concrete demolition requires a lot of power crushing, separation and machinery. Not to mention waste of water in order to prevent dust pollution during operation. Transferring waste material to recycle stations outside the city wastes time and the end result of which can only be re-used in very limited areas. ERO uses water jets to crack the concrete surface to disassemble concrete and sucks up the mixed debris. It cleanly separates the waste mixture and packages the cleaned material. What was previously waste, now turns into labeled packaged asset to be transferred right away into concrete pre-casting stations to be re-molded into new building blocks. No dust, no waste, no separation. Only clean bags of aggregate and rust and dust free rebar remains to be cut and re-used directly.
What was the challenge? The challenge with this project was to separate materials at the same time with de-construction. Concrete is usually reinforced with a metal mesh inside. Today's techniques tend to pulverize with brute force which creates a lot of dust and uses a lot of energy. Outcome of the operation creates a mixed mound of waste material which needs to be separated in order to be re-used or sold as second grade metal, or as a filling material. In order to overcome later separation and ease the transport of materials The process had to start with separation on the spot. It was a challenge to switch from brutal pulverizing to smart de-construction. Keep the whole process clean and simplify the process. The alternative was a crowded group of operations which would otherwise consume a lot of work time, machinery and energy. Today's well applied technologies provided me concept level solutions.
ERO as a design solution: One of the goals of this project was to provide a smart & sustainable near future approach to the demolition operations that will allow re-using as much as possible.
Today, operators manually control different sized heavy machinery to smash and crush the concrete structure into dusty bits. All of these machines consume a lot of energy to operate. Water has to be sprayed constantly with fire hoses to prevent harmful dust from spreading around. After the work is done, big machines scoop up the rebar and concrete mixture and transfer them to the recycle stations outside the city. There, the waste needs to be separated manually. Concrete needs to be crushed with power crushers in several stages, end result of which can only be used for simple construction layouts. The metals are melted to be re-used. These operations all require heavy machinery. An autonomous fleet of ERO is placed strategically within the building. They scan the surroundings and determine a route with which they will execute the operation. Once ERO starts working. they literally erase the building. ERO de-constructs with high pressure water, sucks and separates the mixture of aggregate, cement and water. Then sends aggregate and filtered cement slurry separately down to the packaging unit to be contained. Clean aggregate is packed into labeled big bags and sent to concrete pre-cast stations nearby for re-use.
Water is re-cycled back into the system, ERO doesn't waste water like today's systems. Packaging unit provides ERO with vacuum suction and electrical power. Turbulence dynamos placed within the air suction route which produces some percent of power ERO needs. ERO uses less than what it gets. Nothing is land filled or sent away with extra operations. Rebar is now cleaned from concrete, dust and rust. It is ready to be cut and re-utilized immediately. Every bit of the load bearing structure is reusable for new building blocks.
This project is an excellent solution for the complexity of today's demolition techniques which consumes a lot of energy to create a lot of waste. All around the world concrete is being demolished increasingly to make new ones every day. ERO simply turns Waste into Asset.
Technical specs or production method. Hydro demolition, Centrifugal Decanter, Omni-directional tracks are EROs core technologies. Hydro demolition attacks the micro-cracks on the concrete surface and make it come apart. This way you don't damage the rebar but peel off the concrete. Centrifugal Decanter is a separation technology being used by several industries. It uses centrifugal force to separate solids from liquids. Omni-directional tracks, is a track system that can move within perpendicular routes without taking turns. This allows ERO to move and re-position freely. It also allows ERO to get rid of the hydraulic stabilizers and simplifies the structure.
ACADEMIC SUMMARY: Abstract: The world is changing. Big cities are attracting more and more population, millions every day and growing. Who among the megacity dwellers would want to wake up in the morning staring at a construction demolition site, dusty, rusty and noisy? The increasing need for an improved infrastructure within the mega cities evokes a big industry of building replacements. The complex combination of building materials and methods is making the de-construction and recycling the demolition waste material very difficult. Today's methods are very complex, time consuming and the end use of the by-products are very limited. Moreover all of these methods are further limited by governmental regulations and laws. These laws are held in order to keep the dynamic city life to be able to cope with the de-construction jobs running around the city. Reinforced concrete being the most celebrated and used structural element, how might we find a smarter way to de-construct it and re-use the byproduct more accurately?
Methods: We design for people in the end, so for the project, I have gone through a variety of different users and experts who work in construction business. Architects, Construction Field Engineers, Project Leaders, Recycling experts, Mechanical engineers were my primary interviewees. I have done several on site observations and interviews both in Sweden and Moscow, Russia. After observing the work environment and the needs, I have analyzed the data, added my online research on top and I have moved on to concept generation stage during which I have created diagrams and schemes to map out the problem areas to be able to create concepts to solve them. Sketching and physical moke-up test models were a big part of the next step that was the concept development stage. I have shared my explorations and ideas with my collaborator Atlas Copco Design Competence Center. After the feedbacks from engineers and Atlas Copco Design team, I have moved on to concept finalization.
Final Design: The final product is a smart autonomous de-construction robot that uses Hydro-demolition as its core technology. Instead of using brutal mechanical force and pulverize the volumes manually, it blasts the micro cracks on the concrete surface with high pressure water jets. By doing so it literally takes the reinforced concrete wall apart and separates the mixed aggregate from the chemicals and filters the water and re-feeds it back to the blasting system. The clean aggregate then is vacuumed by a main unit outside the construction site, grinded into smaller bits, packed into industrial big bags an labeled ready to be sent to concrete pre-cast stations. The Slurry from the filtering operation then also is vacuumed separately and contained. This way instead of creating waste, we will produce assets from the de-construction operations. We won't have to landfill anything and the end use of the byproduct will increase. A cleaner and a smarter future is coming.