Welcome to this episode of Hardware to Save a Planet. Today, Dylan is joined by Keegan Kirkpatrick, Founder and CEO of RedWorks Construction Technologies, a company with a mission to decarbonize the construction industry. 

Join them as they discuss how RedWorks manufactures bricks on-site using dirt sourced from the construction site, a solution which can replace concrete and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They also touch on the challenges of introducing new technology to the conservative construction industry and the lack of regulatory standards for structural materials.

About Keegan

Keegan is an entrepreneur, public speaker, consultant, and engineer all rolled into one. He was passionate about being an astronaut when he grew up and has worked on rockets and satellites in his career. As the founder of RedWorks, he brings technology made for Mars back to Earth. RedWorks uses patented technology to make masonry using the dirt at the construction site, thereby reducing greenhouse emissions. Keegan is also a strategic advisor at Spira and a partner at Space Advisors.

A better way to build

RedWorks is on a mission to decarbonize the construction industry with its hardware that manufactures bricks on-site and on-demand, using dirt sourced from the construction site itself. This is a big deal because those bricks could replace concrete, which is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Another big emitter in this industry is the transportation of materials to the building site; on-site production can eliminate that impact as well.

Want to learn more?

Check out the key takeaways of this episode below. Better still, listen to the podcast!

Key highlights

  • 08:41 – 10:09 – Decarbonizing the construction industry brick by brick: Keegan explains how RedWorks was conceived in response to NASA’s Centennial Challenge for a solution to build self-contained habitation units on Mars. The hardware for the solution combined 3-D printing with inductive heating while using the soil on Mars. This was then modified and applied to construction on Earth. The inductive heating process consumes significantly less energy than what goes into the production of concrete. Making a pound of concrete releases five and a half pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere; the RedWorks solution emits just one ounce of CO2 for the same pound. When you calculate the impact of using this solution across multiple construction sites, you’re effectively eliminating the CO2 emissions of transporting material to the construction sites.
  • 17:05 – 19:42 – RedWorks’ business model: RedWorks’ business model offers its clients the flexibility between lease and lease-to-buy options. The flexibility broadens the audience base by catering both to the DIY enthusiast who wants to redo their patio to large construction companies working on multi-billion dollar projects. RedWorks solution cuts the cost of bricks from $0.55, which you would pay the wholesaler, to $0.05. Lower energy costs and wastage are additional benefits for large contractors. The lower CO2 emissions make it a win-win solution and business model all around.
  • 26:54 – 28:45 – An under the hood look at RedWorks’ solution: Keegan likens the working of the RedWorks machine to a volcano. The dirt particles are heated to the point where they vitrify and fuse together. This material flows like lava, which is then set layer by layer till the brick is built. The advantage of this machine from an additive manufacturing perspective is that, because it’s not a process that uses water or any kind of liquid as a binding agent, the machine’s output cures faster so that the next layer of material can be deposited on top of that. Also, the weight of the material on top of it doesn’t cause any deformation in the lower material.