Eight Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology engineering students may have figured out a way to reuse the world’s plastic waste — by using a solar oven to melt it down into bricks and 2 x 4 planks, which could go to building new housing for natural disaster victims in Haiti. According to the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, the project is part of Rose-Hulman’s summer Grand Challenges course, which strives to teach college engineering and science students to address worldwide issues identified in the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering.
The students faced the challenge of using solar power to improve infrastructure. Their solution was a 12 foot-tall solar oven that uses solar panels to concentrate the sun’s heat into a small black box, where temperatures can reach about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the article. Plastic waste is melted down in the oven and then poured into molds for bricks and planks. Buildings made out of this material could withstand 12 mph to 30 mph winds from storms.