KUMASI UNIVERSITY, GHANA, AFRICA.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT.
Creating the basis for a program that can better the living standard of the population in Kumasi.
40% of Ghanas timber industry is located in Kumasi.
Timber is transported, treated, and shipped to Kumasi – All leftovers from production are predominantly burned.
Wood in it self, is not a local resource, but sawdust is.
The wood treatment industry creates a lot of useful waste, the sawdust, and that is the main issue that where adressed in this project.
Looking at the housing situation of 120 houses in Kumasi, we found the room occupancy ratio of a household (which is a measure of housing adequacy) to be 2.8 people per room – an indication of overcrowding. It was also concluded that the materials used to build the 120 houses most commonly used where: mud bricks, metal sheets and poor/coarse concrete. Replacing and improving these inadequate building materials will contribute to urban planning without polluting it.
Using the locally produced sawdust as a resource will contribute to cheaper production costs, extend material life cycle, cut transport emissions and ease environmental stress. This will in turn improve housing development and lower the overcrowding and room occupancy of Kumasi .
We found it preferable to introduce a binder or a glue to create a material out of sawdust. Experimenting with starch from kasava roots, but found it to be inadequate in both structure and abilities: it was a snack for termites and dilutes in too high humidity.
Instead we discovered the possibility to introduce mycelium into the sawdust, which forms and spreads to create an almost polymer-like material as seen on the test above – this material we believe is well suited for use as a building material.
Mycelium is a fungus, which grows a tight network of roots into a host material, but only when activated. It is heat- and water retardant which is good for isolation, and it is a natural thermite and insect repellant, since it kills insects if it is eaten. Mycelium is not harmful to humans and does not spread or start to grow after the polymer has set.
Sawdust is not fully harnessed as a resource in either its basic form or if used as an ingredient in another product.
In the future we would like sawdust to be a local source used in the form of a building material, and not considered as waste.