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5.

3: Earth materials

5.3

Book

Houben, H, Guillaud H (1994). Earth construction : a comprehensive guide, IT Pubs, (TH 1421.H6)

5.3

Earth

5.3

Earth materials

Kiln dried Sun dried


Stabilised Unstabilised

5.3

Earth materials soil

5.3

Earth materials soil particle size

Pebbles 200mm 20mm Gravel 20mm 2mm Course sand 2mm 0.2mm Fine sand 0.2mm 0.02mm Silt 0.02mm 0.002mm Clay - > 0.002mm

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks

Bricks moulded and then energy (heat) added at 850-1000oC Clays vitrify (form glasses) Quality varies with
Soil type (mainly clay content) Firing

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks brick bonds

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages Good compressive strength Slightly porous permitting moisture to move Good thermal capacity Good fire resistance Weather (rain) resistant Poor quality bricks can be used for other purposes no waste Labour intensive Disadvantages High fuel consumption (5 MJ kg-1 deforestation Simple kilns produce bricks of varying quality Lime blowing Efflorescence

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Clamp kiln

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Clamp kiln

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Clamp kiln - Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages They are cheap and straightforward to build
No permanent structure to install and maintain

Disadvantages The least energy efficient method of firing bricks


Fuel consumption of 2.8 to 3.5 MJ/kg fired brick

Can be built next to the supply of clay and fuel


Low transport costs

Labour intensive Poor quality control a very


Up to 20% of the bricks over or under fired

Can be left once lit Good scalability Can be fired continuously, Clamps can be fired with a large variety of fuels

Slow to fire,
several days to heat up and cool down

Susceptible to the prevailing weather conditions

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Bulls trench kiln

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Bulls trench kiln

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Bulls trench kiln - Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages More fuel efficiency compared to periodic kilns
2.5-2.8 MJ.kg

Disadvantages Demands good organization of the brick production, Production cannot easily be adjusted to fluctuations in the brick market. High skill Moveable chimneys have a short working life. Exhaust temperature is high, causing a less than optimum firing condition and fuel economy.

Low initial investment. High capacity

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Vertical shaft brick kiln

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Vertical shaft brick kiln

5.3.1

Earth materials Burned bricks Vertical shaft brick kiln - Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages Very energy efficient
~1 1.3 MJ/kg 2-3x bulls trench

Disadvantages Novelty Requires good quality green bricks,


Have to be able to withstand being stacked 5 meters high in the firing shaft.

Low cost High quality The kiln is cheap and straightforward to build, Very compact Not effected by variations in the weather, Reduced local air pollution More than one shaft allows for firing flexibility Labour requirements are low

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Initial tests Visual examination Smell tests Nibble test Touch test Washing test

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Lustre test

Cut a slightly moist ball of soil with a knife


Shiny surface clayey Dull surface - silty

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Adhesion test

Cut into a slightly moist ball of soil with a knife


Knife penetrates easily low in clay Soil resists penetration - clayey

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Water retention test

A moist ball squeezed into a egg-shaped ball with just enough water to hold it together Press the ball into one hand and tap with the other until water forms at the surface
5-10 taps fine sand or course silt 20-30 taps plastic silt or silty clay No reaction - clayey

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Consistency test

Roll an olive-sized ball of moist soil into a thread about 3 mm


If it breaks before 3mm too dry raise water content

Reroll the thread into a ball and squeeze


Hard to crush high clay content Cracking or crumbling low clay content Breaks before ball is formed high silt or sand content Soft and spongy high organics - reject

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Cohesion test

Squeeze a moist ball of soil into a strip (~1215mm thickness) Carefully dangle loose end from fingers Measure how long it is when it breaks
25-30 cm clayey 5-10 cm low clay content

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Dry strength test

Flatten egg sized ball to ~1cm thickness Allow to dry Break piece between thumb and forefinger
Breaks with difficulty and doesnt crumble clay Can be easily crushed to powder silty or sandy clay Pulverised without effort silt or sand with low clay content

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Settling test

Fill jar about 1/3 full with soil and compact slightly Add water to about 2/3 full. Add a pinch of salt (honest!) Shake and leave to settle. Shake again after an hour
Gravel and sand settle after 1 min Silt settles after 30 mins Clay will take ~ 24 hours

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Settling test

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Sieve analysis

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Sieve analysis chart

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Shrinkage test

Grease inside of box Pack in soil Measure length of dried pieces after 3 days in sun or 7 in shade
High shrinkage is bad (aim for <<10%)

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Optimal Water content

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Optimal Water content test

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Atterberg limits Liquid limit test Casagrande apparatus

Dry soil and weigh Add some water until soil is a thick paste Place in apparatus Make a groove with grooving tool Turn handle until groove is breached by 13mm
When breach is 13mm after 25 turns, soil is at the liquid limit

Its actually more complex see BS1377

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Atterberg limits Liquid limit test

Pack soil in bowel till it is about 8mm deep in the centre Make a groove with grooving tool Tap with hand
Soil is at the liquid limit when the gap is breached by 13mm after 10 taps

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Atterberg limits Plastic limit test

Add water to dry soil Roll about 5g into a ball until it dries and cracks Divide the sample into two parts and make each into a sausage about 6mm Roll each part to a thread of 3mm
If it breaks before 3mm dryer than plastic limit Remains whole after 3mm wetter than plastic limit Should break into lengths of about 10mm

Check moisture content by weighing

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Atterberg limits Plasticity index

PI = LL PL

PI is the Plasticity index LL is the liquid limit PL is the plastic limit

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Atterberg limits chart

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Cohesion test

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Cohesion test chart

5.3.2

Earth materials Soil tests Moisture/density chart

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Cob

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Wattle and daub

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods - Adobe

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods - Adobe

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Extruded adobe

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Soil suitability for adobe

5.3.1

Earth materials Construction methods - Adobe - Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages Simple and cheap Easily worked Very low energy input Fire resistant Good climatic performance Unlimited reusability Environmentally benign Disadvantages Needs constant maintenance Water absorption can cause cracks and even complete fluidisation Low tensile strength bad in earthquakes Low acceptability for many poor mans material Low institutional support

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Rammed earth

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Rammed earth Mechanical rammers

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Rammed earth Site features

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Rammed earth charts

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Rammed earth Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages Good compressive strength Good surface finish no further treatment is usually required Well understood in many parts of the world Very low energy input Disadvantages Needs a suitable soil wit good grain distribution Can suffer in rain and rising damp so needs a good foundation (good pair of boots and a hat) (Hard) labour intensive Formwork can be costly Corners can be problematic Must be made on-site

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Compressed blocks

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods compressed block charts

5.3.3

Earth materials Construction methods Compressed blocks Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages High compressive strength Small drying and storage requirement Easy transportation Good surface finish Good thermal capacity Good fire resistance Often lower cost than burned bricks Can be made to any shape (interlocking is popular) Labour intensive Disadvantages Needs a suitable soil wit good grain distribution Binders are often necessary and mix can be critical Non-traditional, therefore suspicion and a high cost of failure Labour intensive

5.3.4

Earth materials Stabilisation why stabilise Clay expansion on wetting


De-lamination of renders Separation of elements such as doors and windows

Saturation
Unstabilised soil has much reduced (sometimes zero) cohesion when wet Alternative to good hat and boots

5.3.4

Earth materials Stabilisation

Stabiliser Without stabiliser With stabiliser inert

Nature

Method Mechani cal

Mode Densifica tion

Principle Create a dense medium blocking pores and capillary

minerals fibres

Physical Reinforc ement chemical Cementa tion linkage

Create an anisotropic network, limiting movement Create an inert matrix opposing movement Create stable chemical bonds between clay crystals Surround earth particle with a waterproof film Eliminate absorption and adsorption

chemical

binders

Water proofers

Impervio usness Water proofing

5.3.4

Earth materials Stabilisation