Students propose use of 'tahong' shells for hollow blocks

Discarded mussel (tahong) shells can be utilized as raw materials in the production of stronger and lighter hollow blocks, according to a winning proposal of students from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas-Tacloban College (UPVTC) in the recent “Project Pagsulong,” a national social enterprise business proposal writing competition.

UPVTC BS Management students Maria Katrina L. Alfante, Geneline P. Apuya and Mark Anthony S. Capinan have called their proposal as “green construction,” where mussel shells, an excess by-product, could be made into profitable products.

“The project seeks to address the proper utilization and disposal of discarded and unused mussel shells. It will also help minimize farmers’ losses when red tide strikes because even shells of contaminated mussels may be bought at reasonable price and used as raw materials for hollow blocks making,” Alfante said.

Aptly named “power mussels,” Alfante added the prototype product showed about 650 pounds per square inch (psi) level, way above the standard load-bearing requirement for construction. “Our target beneficiaries of the project are mussel farmers in the municipality of Jiabong, Samar where mussel farming is the main livelihood, an activity that produces marketable products. Unfortunately, the shells are also an excessive waste by-product,” Alfante said.

She added the idea is not actually new because even during the Spanish period, coral shells have already been used as materials in building churches. “We just put a modern twist to it to help the poor community in Jiabong and nearby villages. Our project also aims to introduce a new building material that is both economically and ecologically sustainable,” Alfante added. Each hollow block may be sold at about P8. “We are grateful for Project Pagsulong because we were able to share something that will help alleviate poverty by bringing our business ideas to life,” Alfante said. She added the P500,000 prize from the contest will be used as seed capital in the implementation of the project to keep it “sustainable” and “functional.”

Philippines News agency