Female Engineer in Gaza Invents Concrete Block Made from Rubble and Ash

Connector Winter 2019

A young female civil engineer in Gaza has been recognised internationally for inventing a concrete building block made from recycled rubble and ash, which makes the blockaded territory less reliant on imported aggregate and cement as it struggles to rebuild.

Majd Mashharawi, 24, spent years perfecting the mix after graduating from the Islamic University of Gaza.

Using materials of which Gaza has plenty – rubble from buildings destroyed in successive wars, and ash from heating, cooking and power generation – the block is seen as helpful both for reconstruction and for imparting a sense of dignity and resourcefulness among Gazans.

Called “Green Cake”, the invention has won an innovation prize in Japan, and its inventor has been designated one of the “Most Creative People” in 2018 by the Fast Company media outlet.

Mashharawi says Gazans should not just rely on international aid, but should strive for self-sufficiency. “It feels like you are doing something (for) your country. You are not just shouting and saying we want to be free,” she said. “You’re not just seen as victims. We can build. We are our future.”

She says the black-coloured blocks are called “green” because they divert ash from landfill, where it damages Gaza’s soil, and “cake” because of the air pockets in the finished block.

At a rented factory employing 10 people, the mixture is made, moulded into blocks, which are left to dry. More water is then applied to aid curing.

Production capacity is limited, however, by frequent disruptions of the electricity supply from Israel, but the blocks have been sold for building in Gaza for the past year.

The blocks do require cement, which must be imported from Israel, but they require smaller quantities than a standard concrete block, and the use of concrete rubble and ash cuts out the need for imported sand and aggregate.

Source: Global Construction Review