Building With Plastic Bottles
What could you do with one and a half million plastic bottles? Arthur Huang built a nine-story building with them! He called it the EcoArk. It’s a special name for a special building in Taiwan, Asia.
The EcoArk is sleek and modern. It really catches the eye. You might think it’s made of glass, with a pattern of white dots along the outer walls. Now look closely. Those dots are actually bottle caps from the plastic bottles that make up the walls.
The walls of the EcoArk are not made of ordinary plastic bottles, however. They are called Polli-Bricks. They are made of recycled plastic. The plastic was chopped up and melted down. Huang and his team invented a way to reshape and strengthen the melted plastic. He made a new type of building block shaped like a bottle.
The Polli-Bricks have grooves. They fit together tightly and lock in place. They are built into panels about the size of large windows. A coating helps protect them against fire and weather. The panels weigh one-fifth as much as glass panels. Yet, they are incredibly strong. This is due to the honeycomb pattern of the interlocking bottles.
The grooved Polli-Bricks lock together to form panels.
These safety features are essential. Why? The EcoArk is in a part of the world that experiences extreme natural forces. Taiwan, an island off the coast of China, is rocked every year by earthquakes. Violent storms, called typhoons, batter Taiwan each summer. EcoArk braves it all with no damage.
The Polli-Brick panels are lightweight but strong. Huang proves this by jumping up and down on them.
Huang designed the EcoArk to be eco-friendly, in other words, to not harm the environment. The Polli-Brick walls use plastic trash that would otherwise end up in landfills or in the ocean.
The Polli-Bricks are eco-friendly in other ways, too. The bottles are filled with air. Heat doesn’t pass through air easily, so the bottles help keep heat from entering the building. That’s key in Taiwan with its long, hot summers.
Huang's Polli-Bricks are made out of plastic bottles.
Most buildings use electricity for air conditioning. This comes from burning oil, coal, or natural gas at a power plant. Burning these fossil fuels adds carbon dioxide to the air.
The gases trap energy from the sun. This keeps our planet warm. That’s the greenhouse effect. But burning too much fossil fuels has increased the greenhouse effect. Air temperatures have warmed in many places. Huang didn’t want to add to that problem.