Developing sustainable and environmentally friendly building materials in rammed earth construction
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AuthorsOkoronkwo, Chijioke David
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractBuilding rammed earth structures provides a sustainable alternative to concrete. As a building material, rammed earth exhibits very varied physical and material properties depending on the proportion of constituting soil types. When very sandy soil is used in rammed earth production, the properties are different from when a clayey soil is used. This variability can be seen as a very great advantage in the use of rammed earth as a building material. Builders are able to adjust specific properties by changing mix proportions to obtain a desirable balance in the characteristics of the resulting rammed earth structure. This research work looks at selected mechanical and physical properties of different mixes of rammed earth. It describes typical range of values in density, thermal conductivity, ultrasonic pulse velocity, water ingress and compressive strength. It examines how these factors interrelate in the same soil mixes. Samples were prepared by blending various soil types in specific proportions to ensure that each definition of soil grade is as specific as possible. Unstabilised rammed earth was tested as was cement stabilised rammed earth. Rammed earth was tested at various levels of stabilisation and it was discovered that higher rates of stabilisation was not always beneficial to every material property. The research also looked into the potential disposal of waste materials in rammed earth. As rammed earth is a monolithic material that largely remains undisturbed throughout its life span, it was suggested that waste materials could be stored in an inert form inside of rammed earth rather than dumping it in otherwise agricultural landmass. Pulverised Fuel Ash and Palm Kernel Shells were identified as wastes to be disposed in rammed earth. Pulverised Fuel Ash, a by-product of industrial furnace is found in abundance in developed countries that burn carbonaceous materials in power plants. Disposals have been seen as a problem as only a small proportion of high loss on ignition (LOI) Pulverised Fuel Ash has found application. Palm Kernel Shell is a by-product of the oil palm industry and is currently a menace in many developing countries that need to dispose large quantities of the shell in landfills. At an early stage of the research, experimental trial runs quickly showed that these supposedly waste materials had a positive effect on some of the material properties of the rammed earth walls they were made into. This research effort evolved to look into exploiting these materials to improve the physical and material property of rammed earth and to suggest their effect on stabilised and unstabilised rammed earth. The extent to which these materials could be useful and the level at which diminishing returns set in was also investigated. It was discovered that soil mixes that would otherwise not be considered suitable for use in rammed earth wall production can now be utilised as their characteristics can be improved on simply by adding Pulverised Fuel Ash or Palm Kernel shell in the right proportion. Incorporating Pulverised Fuel Ash in rammed earth resulted in increased compressive strength. Palm Kernel shell improved thermal properties without compromising compressive strength.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University’s requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy