Innovating Clay Bricks: A Seafood Fan’s Vision Turned into Exemplary Research

Story and Photos By Samantha Boncalon, Grade 12-OLMM

I am a seafood fan and also one who is keen on enhancing solid waste management practices. These personal traits led me to solving the puzzle that was our research topic. As an avid consumer of oysters and scallops, I initiated the group brainstorming on creating a product out of the waste of these two seafood varieties. Among coastal communities and in relation to seafood restaurants, our research group has always been aware of the issue of shell waste disposal, a persistent concern. As we studied more, we also learned that shells are rich in calcium carbonate, a compound that is known to be strong and resilient.

Moreover, we have observed that the clay pot and bricks business among the community of potters in Sitio Pano-olan is declining and we concluded that an innovation might give their sales a boost.

In the course of our study, we delved into the history of clay pottery and brick making. And, we learned their techniques including even the methods of gathering raw materials, minimizing waste in the process of pottery making, traditional methods of firing pots and bricks, and, overall, the creativity, dedication and passion of the craft of pottery.

Thus, we thought of creating bricks using the same raw materials, employing the same traditional methods but adding new but sustainable ingredients to the initial mix of clay to improve the brick products from Pano-olan that would be best used as pavements in coastal homes and gardens.

Thus, our paper: Oyster (Ostreidae) and Scallop (Pectinidae) Shells: Aggregate Materials in Clay Brick Production.

After creating the bricks, we subjected them to a water absorbability test that proved them to be highly suitable for use in coastal pavement applications to prevent rising tides from entering coastal homes and gardens. Not only this, the bricks proved to be suitable for use in building seawalls and such barriers for structures and pathways that are highly exposed to water.

However, the adaptability test also showed us that our bricks are not as strong and as adaptable as they are water absorbent, thus, they are suited for water-exposed sites other than sites that require building materials to be sturdy.

What began as a simple vision has now become our evident achievement after receiving the Exemplary Research Achievement Award at the 6th Josenian Research Summit at the University of San Jose-Recoletos in Cebu City. We have not only proven that shells of oysters and scallops are effective and resilient in building coastal pavements. After garnering positive test results, we believe in the potential of our innovative product to uplift the clay pottery industry of the community in Pano-olan.

Thomasian Researchers On Site: Samantha Boncalon, Jelainne Tabanao, Fil Dela Paz, Ashley Pepino, Gerianne Abong, Davine Palad, Johann Avenido, Mj Ere-er and Josh Ortega. The researchers try some methods of creating bricks infused with oysters and scallop shells.
Division of Labor. The group is divided to do different tasks like softening of the clay, measuring of shells, mixing the shells with the clay and molding the bricks in its exact measurement.
Wasted No More. Some of the found shells along coastal communities in San Carlos City are used as test raw materials as aggregate for bricks.
Hardening the Bricks. Another stage in the process of brick making is drying them.
Tested and Proven. Researchers also try the time-tested tools of the community potters in Sitio Pano-olan.
Firing. The finished product after firing using the traditional method.
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