With basic tools, 43-year-old Mohamed Abu Khamis is turning wastepaper into bricks that can be used to build — or rebuild — Palestinian homes.
Abu Khamis, who resides in the West Bank city of Qalqilya, has asked Palestinian officials to patent his bricks, saying he has invented an entirely novel form of building material.
Local Agency spoke to Abu Khamis in his modest workshop, which sits atop the roof of his house.
According to the amateur inventor, his bricks serve three purposes: they are a means of eliminating wastepaper; they serve to reduce the stifling humidity of summer; and they would — if properly marketed — provide a new source of income for him and his family.
Abu Khamis carried out numerous experiments before successfully producing his bricks, which, he says, are both fireproof and able to withstand extreme pressure and temperatures.
“I conducted numerous tests on the processed bricks to measure their tolerance and strength,” he said. “The results were very successful.”
Pointing to a recently built partition inside his home, he noted: “This wall, for example, is composed entirely of paper bricks.”
“Visitors,” he added, “cannot see a difference between it and the other walls of the house.”
Abu Khamis went on to point out that the main ingredient for his bricks was freely available on the streets of most Palestinian cities.
“Our streets are littered with wastepaper, only a small portion of which is being recycled,” he said. “With my method, we can convert them from useless waste into useable building materials.”
The bricks can be used both for building new housing and for making additions to preexisting homes, Abu Khamis explained, noting that they were lighter — and much cheaper — than their concrete counterparts.
He explained how he collects wastepaper from the streets of the city, which he later mixes with water, tonic and “drying materials”.
He declined to reveal what exactly these “drying materials” were before obtaining a patent from the Palestinian authorities.
Abu Khamis did, however, say his product contained “natural materials”, which he described as both “harmless and environment-friendly”.
He now hopes to obtain the necessary funding to convert his simple workshop into a full-scale laboratory with the capacity to produce his bricks on a large scale.
“We would be able to produce 1,000 bricks per day from wastepaper collected in Qalqilya alone,” he said.
Abu Khamis already owns a small factory for making sanitary ware, but hopes to eventually sell his product on the international market.