Credit: Omer Haciomeroglu

As engineers and designers focus on creating efficient concrete structures, one designer is trying to find a more sustainable way to take them apart. The Ero Concrete Recycling Robot, a conceptual project by Milan-based product designer Omer Haciomeroglu, enlists high-pressure water jets to cut concrete away from its reinforcement and out of the assembly. “This is a new breed of machinery,” he says. The robots, which are designed to work in synchronized teams of as many as 10, use water to break the concrete along the micro-cracks that pervade its surface. Then, each acts like a “giant vacuum cleaner,” he says, sucking up the aggregate, filtering the cement, and extracting excess water before repackaging the recycled product on site for eventual resale. The robot was his master’s thesis in advanced product design from the Umea Institute of Design in Sweden and won a 2013 IDEA Gold award for student designs from the Industrial Designers Society of America.