Building regulations currently require walls of domestic dwellings in UK to have a U-value of 0.45 W/m
K or less (Jones,2001). Straw bales with thicknesses ranging between 350 to 450 mm have U-values of about 0.13 W/m
K (Jones 2001,Adedeji 2003).Surface-to-surface R-value (the reciprocal of the U-value minus the film surface resistances) is another term used bydesigners to estimate the heat loss and gain through a wall. The R-value related to a unit of thickness is referred to thermalresistivity (r-value)For a 400 mm thick straw bale McCabe (1993) showed in British units R = 52 (ft
F hr)/(BTU in), which can be comparedwith a nominal R = 13(ft
F hr)/(BTU in) for 89 mm thick fiberglass. This means that after recalculation to SI unitsfiberglass has a resistivity (r-value) of about 0.026 mK/W and straw bale having r-value of 0.023 mK/WThe high insulation value of straw depends on the thickness of the bales and the type of plaster material. Straw, according toPeter (1988) is an excellent thermal insulation. As shown in Table 1 straw bale walls has a very low U-value compared toother materials.
Table 1 Comparison of the U-Value of Straw-Bale Walls with other Types of Walls
105mm brickwork, 75mm mineral fibre,100mm light weight concrete block, 13mmlight weight plaster:
100mm heavy weight concrete block 75mm mineral fibre, 100mm heavy weightconcrete block, 13mm light weight plaster
100mm light weight concrete block, 75mmmineral fibre, 100mm light weight concrete block, 13mm light weight plaster.
450mm straw wall:
Source: Adedeji (2003)
3. History of Tests on Thermal Performance
There are different types of tests methods that can be used to determine the thermal performance of strawbale masonry. Nehemiah (2003) These include: (1) the guarded hot plate or thermal probe tests, (2) the guarded-box facility, 3) monitoringof the specimens using ambient conditions (i.e. full-scale testing of experimental houses and (4) use of known or assumed physical properties of composite materials. The first two methods allow the estimation of thermal resistance of the material.Method (3) is used to estimate the amount of heat loss through the entire envelope over a specific period of time while thelast method uses known resistances of the material components. These aforementioned methods can be compared with eachother\