STEM Research Project shortlists in Times Higher Education Awards



Professor Gabriela Medero

Research from Heriot-Watt University has been shortlisted in the prestigious Times Higher Education Awards 2020 - the Oscars of higher education - in recognition of its innovative STEM project.

Project ‘The K-Briq’ is the world’s first recycled brick made from 90% construction and demolition waste. Shortlisted in the competitive STEM Research Project of the Year category, the K-Briq produces just a tenth of the CO2 emissions of a traditional fired brick and uses less than a tenth of the energy during manufacture.

Conceived from a research project which began more than a decade ago to explored sustainable, traditional construction methods, the team, led by Professor Gabriela Medero and Dr Sam Champan, set out to update historical techniques for modern day application.

Professor Gabriela Medero from the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, said: “The UK’s construction industry produces over 100 million waste tonnes annually, over a third of the UK’s total. Globally, the sector’s CO2 emissions account for 39% of the world’s total. Our team, in line with Heriot-Watt’s outward-looking ethos, wanted to find a solution.

“Since its launch at the start of the year, the K-Briq has successfully driven ‘sustainability in construction’ into the media and public consciousness. We’ve secured our first build project from the prestigious Serpentine Pavilion in London and our research has been showcased on international platforms like CNN and Forbes. This award nomination completes an incredible year for the K-Briq. We remain incredibly grateful for the funding and support from Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Innovate UK which has allowed us to take the K-Briq to this point.”.”

While clay bricks take 10-40 hours to produce, K-Briqs are unfired so take just 2-3 minutes to manufacture while providing the construction industry with double the insulation properties and increased energy efficiency versus a traditional brick.

Dr Sam Chapman, Managing Director of spin-out company Kenoteq which produces the K-Briq said: “This award nomination is testament to the tireless work of our interdisciplinary team of civil, structural, chemical and mechanical engineers, architects, chemists and geologists who have collaborated for more than a decade to bring K-Briq to market.

“A thorough understanding of all the constituent materials, their individual properties and combined behaviour has been required in order to deliver this innovation while testing such a new and innovative construction material has been a challenge. We look forward to building sustainability into more construction projects as, within the UK and globally, we continue to strive towards net zero goals.”

The winners of the Times Higher Awards will be announced via a virtual ceremony on 26th November 2020.


Annie Pugh