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GFRG PANELS

1. INTRODUCTION:
Housing is one of the basic needs of society and is an essential component of the built
environment. The Ministry of Rural Development estimated that the rural housing shortage in
India stands at 44 million dwelling units. India’s urban housing shortage is 18.78 million units, of
which 96% pertains to Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Low-Income Group (LIG) type,
as per the estimate of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation [1, 2]. The demand
for conventional building materials used in the housing sector such as burnt clay bricks, cement
and steel is growing every year. Reduction in the use of these energy intensive construction
materials and speedy delivery of housing units at affordable cost are the key challenges faced in
the mass housing sector today.

Buildings using Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) panels (in filled with reinforced
concrete) hold promise as a rapid, affordable and sustainable mass housing solution. GFRG panels
were introduced in Australia in 1990 and are now manufactured in India, making reuse of waste
gypsum from the fertilizer industry. The panels are made of calcined gypsum, reinforced with glass
fibres. They are prefabricated to a size of 12 m length, 3 m height and 124 mm overall thickness
(with cavities), and are relatively light-weight (44 kg/m2). Figure 1.1 shows typical details of the
GFRG panels.

Some of the advantages of the GFRG system over conventional buildings are: high speed
of construction involving less labour, increased carpet area for the same built-up area, reduction
in the use of cement, sand, steel and water, excellent finish of the panels with no need for
plastering, lesser building weight contributing to reduction in earthquake forces, etc. Buildings
constructed of GFRG also have the advantages of cost effectiveness and energy efficiency, in terms
of reduced use of energy intensive building materials, and recycled use of industrial waste. Tests
have established that the panels have the required resistance to water and fire.

Experimental and theoretical studies on GFRG panels have been carried out at IIT Madras
for over a decade. To demonstrate the application of this technology, a two storeyed GFRG
residential building has been built at the IIT Madras campus. The built-up area of this model
building is 184 sq. m. This model building consists of a total of four apartments. This includes two
flats of 25 sq. m. carpet area each and another two flats of 46.5 sq.m each. The superstructure
including the finishes was completed in a record time of 29 days after laying the foundation. The

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use of prefabricated light-weight GFRG panels for the entire building system facilitated substantial
reduction in the building self-weight, construction duration and workforce requirement. There is
great potential to utilize this technology for affordable mass housing projects in India. The GFRG
demo building built at IIT Madras is shown in Figure 1.2.

Figure 1.1: GFRG panels and its cross section.

Figure 1.2: GFRG demo building of IIT madras.

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2. RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT ON GFRG BUILDINGS


GFRG building systems, typically comprising vertical walls and horizontal slabs, are
designed as load-bearing systems, without beams and columns. Selected cavities in the walls and
slabs are filled with low-grade concrete and suitably reinforced with minimal steel. In the case of
walls of buildings up to two or three storeys, only few cavities need to be infilled (typically every
third cavity, reinforced with one 8 mm diameter bar); but for high rise buildings, all the cavities
have to be infilled with concrete and suitably reinforced (with one or two bars in each cavity), to
impart additional strength and ductility. GFRG panels (called ‘Rapid wall’) in Australia had been
utilized only as load-bearing walls resisting gravity loads. The application was extended, based on
extensive studies done at IIT Madras, to their use as shear walls (resisting earthquake loads) as
well as floor slabs, staircases and parapets. The comprehensive use of GFRG panels, in
combination with reinforced concrete, for all the structural components of a building provides an
alternative to conventional load-bearing and framed building systems using traditional building
materials, assuring rapid construction that is sustainable and cost-effective. The empty cavities of
the panel can be utilized for electrical wiring and piping works, and can also be filled with quarry
dust mixed with five percent of cement and water (for increased security and to facilitate nailing
on the walls). Buildings with GFRG load bearing systems in combination with reinforced concrete
can be as high as 8-10 storeys in low seismic zones. Presently, buildings up to 4 storeys have been
constructed in India. Research has also been carried out in identifying waterproofing chemicals
that are suitable for both GFRG and concrete, for ensuring prolonged life of these buildings.

Based on these studies at IIT Madras, GFRG has been approved as a building material
suitable for construction of buildings in India up to 10 storeys by BMTPC (Building Materials
Technology Promotion Council), which has published the following manuals for adoption in
practice:

a. GFRG / Rapid wall Building Structural Design Manual.

b. Manual on waterproofing of GFRG / Rapid wall Buildings.

c. Schedule of Items and Rate analysis for GFRG Construction.

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A BIS code on design and construction of GFRG has been prepared and is presently under
wide circulation. A draft of the Method of Construction of GFRG / Rapid wall Buildings has also
been prepared for publication. These standards and guidelines serve to assist architects, structural
engineers and construction engineers on the design and construction of GFRG buildings in India.

Comparison of Construction Time between RCC and GFRG Construction:

S.No Item of Work RCC (Duration in GFRG (Duration in


Days) Days)
1 Earthwork 2-4 2-4
Excavation
2 C.C Bed 1:4:8 2-3 2-3
3 Brickwork 5-7 5-7
in Foundation
4 Plinth Beam with 2-4 2-4
DPC
5 Columns 9-10 -
6 Walls(brick/GFRG) 10-15 2-4
7 Beams 15-18 -
8 Lintels and sunshades 4-5 2-3
9 Slab 28 14
10 Plastering 10-12 -
11 White wash 3-4 -
12 Colour wash 2-3 2-3
13 Flooring 3 3
Total duration 98-115 Days 34-44 Days

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3.TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
a. Raw Materials :

(i) Phosphogypsum – Shall be > 90% purity as CaSO4


(ii) Glass Roving – E glass shall be > 98% purity 7
(iii)Ammonium Carbonate – Shall be of 99.14% purity as NH4CO3

b. Manufacturing process:

1. Phosphorus gypsum which is a byproduct of phosphoric acid plant is calcined in calciner at


140-1500 C at the rate of 15MT/hr. of calcined plaster. This calcined plaster is stored in product
silo having capacity of250MT.

2. The plaster is then transferred to batch hopper by screw conveyors and through Entoleter in
wall panel manufacturing area.

3. This area consists of 6 casting tables having dimensions of 3m x 12m, one crab having mixer
and glass roving delivery system is for delivering slurry and glass roving for three tables. The
chemicals are added in water & mixed and then plaster is added & mixed to form slurry.

4. One layer of slurry is laid on the table by the crab followed by a layer of glass roving. This
glass roving is embedded in to the slurry with the help of screen roller.

5. Another layer of slurry is poured followed by a layer of glass roving this layer is pushed inside
the ribs with the help of temping bar. Finally, a layer of glass roving is laid for the top face of the
wall panel.

6. After getting final Gilmore wall panel is lifted from the casting table to ACROBA frame and
shifted to dryer for drying. The wall panel is dried at a temperature of 275 C for 60minutes.

7. After drying, the wall panel is either shifted to storage area or on the cutting table. The wall
panel is cut as per dimensions supplied by the consumer and the cut pieces are transferred to
stillage’s which are specially made for transporting wall panel.

8. The liquid effluent generated during manufacturing process is recycled back in the system for
manufacturing of new wall panels.

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9. The solid waste which is generated while manufacturing wall panels is recycled back to the
calciner after crushing and separating plaster & glass roving in recycle plant.

10. The above system is a batch process. Six wall panels can be manufactured in eight-hour shift
per table. Similarly, 36 wall panels can be manufactured in eight-hour shift with 6tables.

c. Joints: Wall to wall vertical angle joints of ‘L’, ‘T’, ‘+’ and vertical straight wall joints are
made by cutting of inner or outer flanges or web appropriately and filling of concrete with
vertical reinforcement with stirrups for anchorage (Fig.5).

Figure 3.1 : Joints of GFRG panels.

d. Properties of GFRG

The following table provides some of the important properties of GFRG building panel
(for both unfilled panels and panels filled with M20 concrete)

Property Value

Unit weight 0.433 kN/m2

160 kN/m;
Uni-axial compressive
strength - Unfilled; Filled 1310 kN/m

Uni-axial tensile strength 35 kN/m

Water absorption < 5%

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and for design, the following values may be considered

Property Value

Modulus of elasticity, E 7500 N/mm2

Out-of-plane flexural rigidity, EI, Rib


3.5 x 1011Nmm2/m
parallel to span - Unfilled

Out-of-plane flexural rigidity, EI, Rib


1.7x1011Nmm2/m
perpendicular to span - Unfilled

For computer modeling for analysis, the following values may be adapted

Property Value

14.4 kN/m
Design shear strength –
40 kN/m
Unfilled; Filled; Partially filled
14.4+25.4r kN/m

Out-of-plane moment capacity, Rib


1.4 kNm/m
parallel to span - Unfilled

Out-of-plane moment capacity, Rib


0.59 kNm/m
perpendicular to span – Unfilled

Note: r = no. of filled cavities / total no. of cavities

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e. Configuration of GFRG panels in building with pitched house:

GFRG panels, on erection, may generally be used (i) as load Bearing Walling – With cavities
filled with reinforced concrete is suitable for multi-storeyed structures; (ii) as partition walls in
multi storeyed frame buildings; and (iii) as horizontal floor/roof slabs with reinforced concrete
micro beams and screed. This system can also be used in inclined configuration, such as staircase
waist slab and pitched roofing (Fig.2).

Figure 3.2: Configuration of GFRG panels in building with pitched roof

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4. Design of GFRG elements :


Design Philosophy: The design capacities are based on limit states design procedures,
considering the ultimate limit state for strength design. It should also satisfy serviceability
requirements. as per IS 456: 2000. Earthquake resistant design is carried out in compliance with
the requirements of IS 1893: 2002, with R values as 3.0 for seismic load calculations.

Axial Load Capacity: While assessing the axial load capacity of GFRG building panel
used as load bearing wall, the possible eccentricities in loading are considered when arriving at
capacity. According to IS 456: 2000 (Cl.32.2.2), the design of a reinforced concrete wall should
take into account the actual eccentricity of the vertical force subjected to a minimum value of 0.05t
(6.2 mm for panel thickness t = 124 mm).

In-plane Bending Capacity: GFRG panels can be used not only as load bearing walls, but
also as walls transferring lateral loads, resisting axial force (P), lateral in-plane shear force (V) and
in-plane bending moment (M).

As already mentioned, as GFRG panels with ribs aligned in direction of bending possess
flexure, such panels can be used as flexural slab, whose strength can be significantly enhanced by
embedding ‘micro beams’, filled with reinforced concrete and topped with RCC screed (provided
with suitable welded wire fabric), together acting as T-beams. Unfilled GFRG panels can be used
as pitched roofs for single storey small span buildings. The arrangement of reinforcements in the
microbeams and screed has already been described earlier. The shorter span of slab (floor / flat
roof) should be restricted to 5 m. For convenience in design, the contribution of GFRG towards
the flexural strength can be ignored and the GFRG is treated as lost formwork. One-way slab action
may be assumed for strength and deflection check, considering T beam action of the embedded
micro beams. The design of reinforcement in the micro beams should conform to the requirements
of IS 456: 2000.

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5.TESTS DONE ON PANEL:

A. Water Absorption:

The size of specimen for Water Absorption is specified as 250mm X 300mm. The Test
procedure adopted is as follows:-

Weigh each original specimen and record their weights. Condition the specimen to constant
weight by keeping it in an oven at a temperature of 40+ 20C. This can be done drying the specimen
for 24 hours initially and weighing the specimen; when drying for another 4 hours each time and
weighing the specimen until the difference of the two consecutive weights of the specimen is with
0.1% of dried weight. Weighed the dried W1 of each specimen to within 0.5 gram. Immersed the
specimen in water for 24 hours and weighed it. ( W2 ).Water Absorption =(W2-W1)x100/ W1.

B. Compression Testing:

Measurement of dimension - The width of the test specimen is measured at the waist of the
specimen as shown in fig.1. The measurement shall be taken on both the front face and back face
of the specimen and an average value used. The test specimen shall be placed at the center of the
platen on the test machine. Under no circumstance should any part of the specimen be placed
outside the perimeter of the platen of the test machine. Capping is done on the top and bottom
faces of the test specimen capped with a thin layer of quick setting plaster to ensure firm and
uniform contact with platen. The strength of the applied plaster shall not be lower than that of the
test specimen at the time of testing. Apply the compression load gradually in a rate not greater
than 10 KN/min until it reaches the peak load and then drops at least 20% of the peak load. The
maximum applied load (peak load) indicated by the testing machine was recorded.

C. Flexural strength:

Mark the positions of support lineon the bottom of the specimen, and load line on the top
of the test specimen. Set up the pin and roller supports. Wait a few minutes for the plaster to set.
Apply a layer quick setting plaster on top of the test specimen at the position of the secondary
distribution beam in position. Allow the plaster to set. Set up the rest of the loading system and
loading jack. Place the displacement transducer under the test specimen at the midspan. A piece

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of small plate (about 20mm X 20mm X 2mm thick) shall be glued on to the tip of the transducer
to prevent it from going into a crack if the crack happens to occur at the position of the
displacement machine point. Load the jack under displacement control in a strain rate of not greater
than 5mm/min until the load passes the peak and drops at least 50% of its peak load. In the mean
time of applying loading, record the test data at sufficient number of test points to produce a load
v/s displacement curve.

Figure 5.1: Fire resistance on GFRG panel

Figure 5.2: load bearing capacity on GFRG panels

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6.Construction & workmanship:


a. Rapid wall for rapid construction

Building shall be designed on the basis of Design Manual* by a qualified structural


Engineer. As per the building plan and design, each wall panel shall be cut at the factory using an
automated cutting saw. Door/window/ventilator and `openings for AC unit etc. shall also be cut
and panels for every floor marked as per the building drawing. Panels are vertically loaded at the
factory on stillages for transportation to the construction site on trucks. The stillages shall be placed
at the construction site close to the foundation for erection using crane with required boom length
for construction of low, medium and high-rise buildings. Panels shall be erected over the RCC
plinth beam and concrete is infilled from top. All the panels shall be erected as per the building
plan by following the notation. Each panel shall be erected level and plumb and shall be supported
by lateral props to keep the panel in level, plumb and secure in position. Embedded RCC lintels
shall be provided wherever required by cutting open external flange. Reinforcement for lintels and
RCC sunshades shall be provided with required shuttering and support. *Copy of Design Manual
shall be made available by the Certificate Holder, to the client involved for design & construction
of building using the panels on requests.

b. Concrete infill
After inserting vertical steel reinforcement as per the structural design and clamps for wall
corners are in place to keep the wall panels in perfect position, concrete having 12mm aggregate
shall be poured from the top into the cavities using a small hose to go down at least 1.5 to 2m into
the cavities for directly pumping the concrete from ready mixed concrete truck. For small building
construction, concrete can be poured manually using a funnel. Filling the panels with concrete
shall be done in three layers of 1m height with an interval of 1 hour between each layer. There is
no need to use vibrator because gravitational pressure acts to self-compact the concrete inside the
water tight cavities.

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c.Embedded RCC tie beam all around at each floor/roof slab level

An embedded RCC tie beam is provided at each floor slab level as an essential requirement,
web portion to required beam depth at top shall be cut and removed for placing horizontal
reinforcement with stirrups and then concrete to be filled.

d.GFRG panel for floor/roof slab in combination with RCC

GFRG panel for floor/roof slab shall be cut to required size and marked with notation. First, wall
joints, other cavities and horizontal RCC tie beams are in-filled with concrete; then wooden plank
0.3 to 0.45m wide shall be provided to room span between the walls with support wherever
embedded micro beams are there and then roof panels shall be lifted by crane. Each roof panel
shall be placed over the wall in such a way that there will be a gap of at least 40mm. This is to
enable vertical rods to be placed continuously from floor to floor and provide monolithic RCC
frame within Rapid wall. Wherever embedded micro-beams are there, top flanges of roof panel
shall be cut leaving at least 25mm projection. Reinforcement and weld mesh is placed for micro
beams and then concrete shall be poured for micro beams and RCC slab.

e. Erection of wall panel and floor slab for upper floor

Vertical reinforcement of floor below shall be provided with extra length so as to protrude
to 0.45m to serve as startup rods and lap length for upper floor. Once the wall panels are erected
on the upper floor, vertical reinforcement rods, door/window frames fixed and RCC lintels shall
be casted. Then concrete where required and joints shall be filled. Thereafter, RCC tie beams all
around shall be concreted.

f. Water proofing

The PAC holder shall provide to the client details of water proofing treatment required at
different levels of construction such as foundation, sunshade and flooring etc.

g. Finishing work

Once concreting of ground floor roof slab is completed, wooden planks with support slabs
shall be removed after 4th day. Finishing of internal walls and ceiling corners shall be done using
wall putty by experienced POP plasterers. Simultaneously, electrical work, water supply and

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sanitary work, floor tiling, mosaic or marble works, staircase work etc. shall also be carried out for
each upper floor.

Figure 6.1: Process of making GFRG panels

h. Zero-Wastage:

Once the GFRG panels has been transported safely, the end caps can be put to use as a furniture
or a souvenir by inter-locking them together. This can be a cool and smart add-on in the homes
i.e detachable table easy to carry anywhere.

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Benefits of GFRG panels:

1.Beat the heat with GFRG in Chennai:

We all know the current scenario regarding increase in temperature in Chennai. We are in need
of a technology which can reduce the heat without spending extra bucks on it.We have a solution
for this.GFRG panels can keep the homes cooler up to 4 degrees than the normal building,
reducing the usage of air conditioners even in summer which in turn saves electricity bill. This
technology will be very useful for hot areas like Chennai. Pay less electricity bills with GFRG.

2.Resists Earthquake:

GFRG can resist earthquake even in seismic zone V. Seismic zone V is the zone which suffers
the highest risk of an earthquake. Most of the metropolitan cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai,
Calcutta lies in Zone IV except Chennai which lies in Zone II. We, Cityrene builders get our
building design from IIT-Madras, which includes earthquake design in our structures.

3.Fireproof:

GFRG can withstand 1000 degree for 4 hours. That’s a big number, isn’t it?

Yes, it’s true GFRG can withstand this much heat. So even during fire accidents, the structure
won’t collapse until four hours, which is a lot enough time for residents to escape and stop the
fire.

4.Water resistant:

Water seepage inside houses can deteriorate the structure with time. It also causes the growth of
bacteria and vegetation inside the house. These spoils the health of the residents. GFRG repels
water, hence there is no problem of water seepage from walls or roofs. Even the GFRG floor slab
will not bulge by releasing water, which happens in conventional construction. Even during
floods with GFRG, you don’t have to worry about any water leakage problems.

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5.Economical:

GFRG can save up to 30% of the total construction cost. GFRG panel costs Rs 1000 per sq.m.
Who doesn’t like a house that is economical and superior to the conventional building in all
ways? Buying a house that too in the entertainment corridor of Chennai, ECR at a good price
with all the benefits of GFRG is not a small thing. Good things don’t stay available for
long. Hurry, get yours now.

6.Eco- friendly:

Building industry alone accounts for 40% of the world’s carbon footprint. This technology can
be an amazing alternative to reduce these issues. GFRG is an eco-friendly material which saves
tons of cement, thereby indirectly reducing the carbon footprint.With increase in global warming
situation usage of eco-friendly material becomes important.

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7.Strength:

GFRG is 5X stronger than the conventional building. This can last up to 80 years without
deteriorating. Conventional buildings can last only up to 50 years.

Few years back a 11 storeyed building in Moulivakkam collapsed in seconds, I think you all
remember this disaster. Conventional construction methods has this inefficiencies, for which
GFRG can be the best solution.

8.Rapid construction:

GFRG houses can be built faster than conventional buildings. In this current scenario on time
delivery of conventional building becomes impossible. But we,Cityrene builders will deliver
your home within 90 days hence you get fast return of investment.

“The sooner you get your home, the lesser rent you pay”

9.Reduction in construction materials:

Sand is becoming scarce day by day, hence the material cost is getting increased vigorously. We
are also depleting the natural resources in large quantity. Constructing with GFRG requires very
less quantity of concrete therefore reducing the usage of concrete. Concrete is only used to fill
every third cavity. Other cavities of GFRG panel is filled with any filler material such as fly ash
or quarry dust thereby reducing the usage of building material to the maximum. Plastering is not
required as the panels will be finished perfectly by the GFRG manufacturers.

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Figure6.2 GFRG construction by Cityrene builders

10.More Carpet Area:

Last but not least GFRG gives you more carpet area inside the house as the thickness of GFRG
panels is only 5 inches.

During summer, especially in hot places like Chennai paints in the conventional buildings will
start peeling off , this won’t occur in GFRG homes.

There are other benefits less maintenance, light weight etc.

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Advantages of using GFRG:

1. Economic, can save up to 30% of the total cost

2. Rapid construction

3. NO beams or columns needed

4. Eco-friendly

5. Fire resistant up to 1000 degrees

6. Earthquake resistant

7. Light weight (43 kg/m2) hence low load transferred to the foundation

8. Saves tonnes of cement and sand

9. Reduces CO2 footprint

10. Increased strength

11. Greater life (Lasts up to 80 years, Conventional building lasts up to 50 years)

12. Water resistant

13. Less maintenance cost

14. More carpet area (Usable area inside house)

Disadvantages of GFRG:

1. More space needed for crane movement

2. Complicated design will make it less economical

3. Skilled labours needed

4. GFRG panels should be handled with care while transportation and erection

5. Need specific machinery for cutting GFRG panels at site

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7. CONCLUSION:

Rapid wall Panel provides a new method of building construction in fast track, fully
utilizing the benefits of prefabricated, light weight large panels with modular cavities and time
tested, conventional cast-in-situ constructional use of concrete and steel reinforcement. By this
process, man power, cost and time of construction is reduced. The use of scarce natural resources
like river sand, water and agricultural land is significantly reduced. Rapid wall panels have reduced
embodied energy and require less energy for thermo-regulation of interiors. Rapid wall buildings
thereby reduce burdening of the environment and help to reduce global warming. Rapid wall use
also protect the lives and properties of people as these buildings will be resistant to natural disasters
like earthquakes, cyclone, fire etc. This will also contribute to achieve the goal of much needed
social inclusive development due to its various benefits and advantages with affordability for low
income segments also. Fast delivery of mass dwelling/ housing is very critical for reducing huge
urban housing shortage in India. Rapid wall panels will help to achieve the above multiple goa ls.

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8.References:
1. Products/ Gypsum Boards and Drywall. Georgia-Pacific- Building Products. March 2008.
http://www.gp.com/build/product.aspx?pid=4674
2. Structural Engineering Division, IITM, GFRG / Rapidwall Building Structural Design
Manual, BMTPC, MHUPA, 2013.
3. Janardhana M., Cyclic behaviour of glass fibre reinforced gypsum wall panels, Thesis
submitted to Indian Institute of Technology Madras for PhD, IITM, 2013
4. Sreenivasa, R. L (2010), Strength and behaviour of glass fibre reinforced gypsum wall
panels, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, PhD Thesis
5. Structural Engineering Division, IITM, Schedule of Items & Rate Analysis for GFRG
Construction, BMTPC, MHUPA, 2013.
6. Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Report of the Technical Group on
Urban Housing Shortage (TG-12), Government of India, 2011, p. 38

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