ERO: Concrete Recycling Robot


The ERO Concrete Recycling Robot was designed to efficiently disassemble concrete structures without any waste, dust or separation and enable reclaimed building materials to be reused for new prefabricated concrete buildings. It does so by using a water jet to crack the concrete surface, separate the waste and package the cleaned, dust-free material.

Current concrete-demolition techniques require a lot of power crushing, separation and machinery, not to mention they waste a lot of water in order to prevent dust blooms during operation. Transferring waste material to recycle stations outside the city wastes time, the end result of which means that the materials can be reused only in very limited areas.

The challenge with this project was to separate materials concurrent with deconstruction. Concrete is usually reinforced with a metal mesh inside. Common techniques involve using brute force to pulverize the concrete, which creates a mixed mound of waste material that needs to be separated before it can be reused or sold as second-grade metal or as a filling material. In order to overcome later separation and ease the transport of materials, the process had to start with separation on the spot. It was a challenge to switch from brutal pulverizing to smart deconstruction.

One of the goals of this project was to provide a smart and sustainable near-future approach to the demolition operations that will facilitate reuse as much as possible. Today, operators manually control different sized heavy machinery, which consume a lot of energy to smash and crush the concrete structure into dusty bits. Water has to be sprayed constantly with fire hoses to prevent harmful dust from spreading. After the work is done, big machines scoop up the rebar and concrete mixture and transfer them to the recycle stations outside the city where the waste is separated manually. Concrete needs to be crushed with power crushers in several stages, the end result of which it can only be used for simple construction layouts. The metal is melted for reuse.

An autonomous fleet of ERO Concrete Recycling Robots is placed strategically within the building. They scan the surroundings and determine a route with which they will execute during the operation. Once ERO starts working, it literally erases the building. ERO deconstructs with high-pressure water and sucks and separates the mixture of aggregate, cement and water. It then sends aggregate and filtered cement slurry separately down to the packaging unit to be contained. Clean aggregate is packed into big bags, which are labeled and sent to nearby concrete precast stations for reuse. Water is recycled back into the system. The packaging unit provides ERO with vacuum suction and electrical power. Turbulence dynamos placed within the air suction route produces some percent of power that ERO needs. ERO uses less than what it gets. Nothing is placed in land fills or sent away for additional processing. Even the rebar is cleaned of concrete, dust and rust and is ready to be cut and reused immediately. Every bit of the load-bearing structure is reusable for new building blocks.

This project is an excellent solution for the complexity of today's demolition techniques, which consume a lot of energy to create a lot of waste. ERO simply turns waste into an asset.


Designed by Omer Haciomeroglu of Umeå Institute of Design of Design for Atlas Copco Rockdrills AB

Contact: Omer Haciomeroglu -