The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot

Untold amounts of concrete cover the planet, and at least six billion cubic yards of it are produced annually. If that’s not alarming enough, most concrete only has a lifespan of 60 to 80 years.

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot

That means all those buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure will have to be fortified or outright replaced sooner or later.

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot

To do this would require a more deft approach than normal demolition, which maximizes wreckage, resulting in a whole lot of waste and mess.

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot offers a possible solution: "smart deconstruction."

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot

A conceptual project by designer Omer Haciomerog, the robot would make it possible to gently deconstruct and recycle concrete right on-site.

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot

The robot is fitted with an articulate arm and head, which spits out water jets strong enough to break down sections of concrete.

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot

It separates the water from the cement and aggregate, and funnels it for reuse. The aggregate is pulverized into pebbles and packaged to be sent off to concrete pre-cast stations.

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot

The concealed rebar structure is excavated and cleaned of rust, then recycled.

The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot

The most ingenious aspect of the design is that it allows the recycling process to be done in real-time and on-site, ensuring that the materials are packaged immediately following deconstruction. A fleet of ERO’s could take down a building in no time, while not wasting any of its structure.

Co.Design

Recycling Robot Of The Future "Erases" Concrete Buildings

A conceptual robot makes it possible to intelligently deconstruct a building, without any of the fuss or mess.

There’s too much concrete in the world to accurately quantify it, though estimates put annual production of the stuff at about 6 billion cubic yards. It’s an alarming situation, to be sure, with potentially devastating environmental effects. Consider that concrete under normal conditions has a lifespan of just 60 to 80 years--meaning that a significant number of the world’s buildings and bridges will have to be upgraded, if not entirely rebuilt, within our lifetimes.

How, exactly, will that be accomplished? Surely not through normal demolition, which would entail untold sums of waste, noise, mess, and expense. The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot, a portable concrete-eating machine, proposes an answer.

Developed by designer Omer Haciomeroglu, the conceptual robot “erases” concrete structures piece meal without any of the waste or dust associated with cut-and-dry demolition methods. It has the ability to separate concrete from rebar and recycle the materials right on-site before cataloging them for reuse.

In order to achieve the most efficient method of demolition, Haciomeroglu writes, “the process had to start with separation on the spot.” The difference lay in transitioning from “brutal pulverizing to smart deconstruction.” The intelligent way, according to Haciomeroglu, is to gradually pick apart the structure from the top down.

That starts with a very enlightened device. The ERO’s design looks like a next-generation Dyson appliance, only larger and built of presumably more durable material. The robot features a highly articulate mechanical arm fitted with a concrete-guzzling head, and a “vacuum” chamber made portable by Dyson-like balls. The latter enable the ERO to nimbly traverse a construction site as it scans the ground in search for optimal entry routes.

A hose plugs right into the base of the ERO, pumping highly pressurized jets of water through the robot’s head that break concrete down into its constituent elements. The aggregate is separated from the cement slurry and filtered; it’s pulverized into pebbles, packaged, labeled, and shipped off to concrete pre-cast stations. The water extracted from the concrete is captured and reused to clean excavated steel rebar of dust and rust.

The goal: “Every bit of the load-bearing structure is [rendered] reusable for new building blocks.” Ambitious, and for an untested design, perhaps overly so. Even so, the potential built into the ERO is huge, and if realized in the “near feature,” as Haciomeroglu predicts, it would prove groundbreaking.

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3 Comments

  • chalmen

    This looks pretty neat.  How fast is the demolition operation, e.g. how long does it take to demolish 1 sq. yd. of concrete? I assume it can be used on horizontal surfaces too.  If it really leaves the rebar cage as intact as it looks like in the pictures, this could also be used in repair and restoration of parking structure and bridge decks. 

  • John

    Is there a working prototype of this, or does "conceptual robot" mean more of a "wouldn't it be nice if such a thing existed?" In other words, how much of the engineering challenges have actually been worked out? Is it possible that this could actually be built in the next, say, 10 years, or is it a "conceptual robot" the way I have a "conceptual moon car" to take me on family vacations to the moon?

  • omerha

    Hi, 

    In the case of ERO, ''conceptual robot'' means it is a prediction of a very possible actual product. All the technologies that is utilized while conceptualizing the ERO(hydro demolition/centrifugal decanter/omni-crawler tracks/vacuum excavation/big bags/concrete pre-catsing/self operating mining vehicle systems) exists and are used today actively in several different industries. During the concept finalization stage, before designing the shell and the look of ERO, I have put the existing components together as logical as possible to form a basis for further discussions and alterations with the engineers if needed. I am guessing that if the product development stage starts with a good development team, ERO could hit the showcase within 3 years or so if wanted. As for the engineering challenges, they are, as it says, "engineers' " challenges not mine :). I have however enjoyed lots of design challenges as it is my job to work them out:)

    omer