Watershed Materials Develops Clay Masonry Twice as Strong as Concrete — 3 Comments

  1. From the link that Alex sent:
    Masonry produced with this technology will use less energy to produce, uses no cement, no fly ash, no blast furnace slag, requires no high temperature kilning, incorporates no dyes or colorants, and will open up previously overlooked, widely available natural and recycled materials as ideal for the production of durable building materials.

    Find out more at

    Here’s some news from their website:
    Watershed Block are available in Northern California and are being specified by architects on commercial and residential projects. Watershed Blocks express the color palette and material composition of local soils that vary region by region.

    This is VERY good news. It means their process is further along than I thought. They must have passed ASTM testing. The story is now in the New York Times and major architecture magazines. I’ll keep an eye on this. It might warrant an update in the near future. Note however that the blocks currently for sale contain about 50% cement, so they haven’t achieved their goal yet of totally eliminating Portland cement.

  2. Hi Owen –

    Thanks for posting this article, and thanks Jim for sending it in from designboom. If you’re interested, here’s the original press release (designboom took some wide liberties with re-writing the story) :

    Owen, you’re right about the long road to product development with geopolymers. One thing that’s truly different with our product is the source of raw materials is natural clay minerals, which no one has has figured out how to do. Most other geopolymers are focused on fly ash, blast furnace slag, or other highly processed materials like metakaolin.

    While some really awesome companies like CalStar have made geopolymer block from fly ash, they have gone the route you’ve mentioned of raising lots of money (maybe not hundreds of millions, but still a lot) to set up large production facilities co-located next to coal burning power plants. What’s different with our technology is that the production can be democratized, set up in smaller much more local, cheaper production facilities co-located next to waste aggregate at quarries or mines or construction sites. Our input material is much more widely available, so production facilities can be smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more widely distributed.

    The proof is in the final commercial application, and we recognize the difficulties of achieving that. However, the goal is to accomplish something with a much lower financial requirement to roll out as more lightweight regional production.

    Stay tuned and thanks for the writeup. Really helpful to our mission.


    Watershed Materials

    • This is great news. Thanks for writing Alex. As you can tell from my geopolymer blog, I’ve been following this subject for quite some time. I quit posting on that blog though because it got a bit discouraging. There’s so much potential with geopolymer! And yet it seems like the industry was stalling out. Hopefully Watershed Materials is able to break through the barriers.

      Out of curiosity, are you using ‘crusher fines’ — the residue from processing sand and gravel? This low cost material is often used in earthbag building. Just imagine if some of your geopolymer could be mixed in and turn it to concrete. That would be a huge breakthrough — a true design boom.

      PLEASE keep us posted.

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