Iceland has a lot of volcanoes. We know they rumble and occasionally spew fiery lava that is housed beneath the earth’s surface. One architect began contemplating better use of natural resources. She thought if we drill for oil, a natural resource we refine and use for fuel, maybe we can drill for molten lava and use it as a construction building material.
Icelander Arnhildur Pálmadóttir and her company began researching ways to use molten lava as a building material in 2018. Her project is called Lavaforming. As the construction industry strives to reduce its carbon footprint, getting back to nature makes sense. Many countries have abundant, untapped natural resources.
“Think adobe for much of Africa, bamboo for China, and even agave waste for Mexico,” says architectural journalist Elissaveta M. Brandon.
While most of us think the concept of using lava as a construction material is wildly revolutionary, Pálmadóttir is surprised no one thought of it sooner. She has three ideas for how this would work:
- Natural eruption – An Icelandic volcano erupts an average of once every 5 years. Scientists could work on eruption forecasting and trenches could be pre-dug to redirect the expected lava flow. Since lava cools to solid rock, it could form foundations and even walls in the pre-designed trenches. This method could be used on any of the thousand-plus active volcanoes around the world.
- Geothermal energy – Deep underground, fiery volcano magma transfers heat to the earth’s mantle. Could that heat be harnessed to generate electricity?
- Magma extraction – Drilling and extracting the magma is another idea. The resource could be formed into bricks. Molten glass is already being used in 3D printing. Maybe molten lava would work, too.
We live in exciting times. Affordable and sustainable construction building material alternatives are becoming more common every year.
It’s an exciting time for construction business development as well. Maybe you need new marketing materials. We’ve got ideas and business-building tools. Call 800.925.6085 (international/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor.