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Playing with Dirt Leads to Big Potential for Sustainable Buildings

By UVA Today

August 1, 2022

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University of Virginia (UVA) researchers are experimenting with methods to incorporate plants into buildings to advance sustainability.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of three-dimensionally (3D)-printing complex structures composed of soil and seed.

UVA's Ehsan Baharlou said, "We are working with local soils and plants mixed with water; the only electricity we need is to move the material and run a pump during printing."

UVA's Spencer Barnes tested 3D-printing soil and seed in sequential layers and combining seed and soil before printing, then proposed fabricating geometrically intricate soil structures like domes.

The researchers discovered that although 3D-printed soil structures can support plant growth, it would likely be limited to plants compatible with drier climates.

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