WaterBrick International (Orlando, FL) is an unusual company with the goal of helping people around the globe gain access to clean water, food, and shelter, all with one product: WaterBrick. Wendell Adams, the company founder and inventor of WaterBrick, started his project three years ago, but WaterBrick just became available in the past 30 days. The company is in the process of finishing up new molds in anticipation of running product in October.
A pair of WaterBrick blowmolded, multi-use containters.
Adams said that he began by looking for a way to provide a bulk-order delivery system for water. The resulting WaterBrick not only holds 3.4 gal (12.9L) of water, but can also hold dry foods, and when those are used up, the interlocking, stackable WaterBrick can be filled with dirt and used as building blocks for housing.
The first blowmolds will be sent to Johannesburg, South Africa, where WaterBrick International is working with the Zulu tribe in a remote rural area to dig a 400-ft well to give them water, which can be stored in WaterBricks. After the water is used, the WaterBrick is an ideal building block that can used in place of concrete blocks, which are much more expensive and more difficult to move into remote areas.
One of the company’s first projects is constructing a school building for 350 children in Mkuze, South Africa—to eliminate their 9-mile walk to school—and housing for the villagers using WaterBrick. “We’ll be housing 50,000 people there,” said Adams in a telephone interview. Using WaterBrick for building material means that buildings can be built for one-third the cost of buildings built using conventional materials.
WaterBrick International’s patented water and food storage containers are rugged enough to be air-dropped by parachute into remote areas where water and food cannot be easily delivered. “Also, WaterBrick literally is the sandbag of the twenty-first century with a twist,” said Adams.
A house built of WaterBricks.
WaterBrick won the International Plastics Design Competition in Sustainable Part/Components division at NPE 2009. FPM Tooling & Automation (Fremont, OH) finalized the design, recommended the material, and built the first mold that runs at ACM Plastic Products (Sturgis, MI). WaterBricks, which weigh 908g (2 lb) each, are molded of FDA approved UV-stabilized HDPE, and can handle a wide range of temperature extremes, from -40ºF to well above 100ºF, meaning they can be used in all climate zones.
WaterBrick International recently announced a strategic alliance with Custom-Pak Inc. (Clinton, Iowa), one of the world’s largest industrial blowmolded parts manufacturers. Jim Wiese, VP of market development for Custom-Pak, said in a telephone interview that they are completing two identical cavities that will run in a twin-head blowmolding machine built by Custom-Pak. The company runs 200 blowmolding lines, about half those machines built by Custom-Pak. Wiese confirmed that the mold will be production-ready in October.
The alliance will allow WaterBrick to rapidly ramp up production to a level of 250,000 WaterBricks a month. Custom-Pak will be the primary manufacturer and distributor of WaterBrick until WaterBrick International can establish manufacturing in other parts of the world.
Adams said that his goal is to eventually distribute molds throughout the world so that the WaterBrick can be molded locally as a hedge against disasters and for emergency preparedness.
“Through our relationship with Custom-Pak, we can now supply the manufacturing capabilities necessary to produce WaterBricks in different countries and provide water, food, and shelter to any disaster-prone regions around the world,” Adams said.
Wiese added, “We’re excited about this opportunity to manufacture WaterBrick, mainly because of the social good it’s going to do in the world and the help that will come to a lot of people in remote areas of the world. We’re very proud to be working with Wendell on this project.” —Clare Goldsberry