Drywall, plasterboard, wallboard—whatever you call it, the substance that covers billions of square feet of American homes hasn’t changed since its invention in 1917. Dry- wall factories still roast ground-up gypsum rock in 500°F kilns, spewing out 20 billion pounds of greenhouse gases a year. So Serious Materials created EcoRock: a drywall that congeals without heat, uses recycled materials that don’t require mining, and holds up even better.
The company’s chemists tested 5,000 recipes before they came up with EcoRock’s stew of 20 materials. The fly ash, slag, kiln dust and fillers—85 percent of which are industrial by-products—react chemically when mixed with water and bind together into a paste that’s poured into sheets. The oven-free process uses just 20 percent of the energy of the typical method. And without the starch and cellulose that’s mixed into ordinary gypsum boards, EcoRock is impervious to termites and mold. It costs about the same as high-end drywall, so it may find a home in houses both green and mainstream. $14–$20 per 4x8-ft. sheet; seriousmaterials.com
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.