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Proof of concept of self-compacting clay concrete to scale-up earth construction

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  141908765,  2014 Montreal, Quebec Canada July 13 – July 16, 2014. (doi: 10.13031/aim.20141908765) @2014
Authors:   Claudiane M. Ouellet-Plamondon, Guillaume Habert
Keywords:   Sustainable construction, clay, concrete, earth

Abstract. Earth construction is gaining interest in Europe and some part of the United States, while it is a common practice in Africa and other regions. The forecast cement demand increase in emerging countries creates the need for alternative building materials. Recent cement and concrete new technologies can be transferred in earthen construction to create a Self-Compacted Clay Concrete. The model earth had a granulometry of 55% of fine particles (<100 um). The use of superplasticizer (SP) with earth alone reduced its yield stress but was much less efficient than when SP and cement are added. 1% of polycarboxylate ethers and 5% calcium sulpho-aluminate cement were sufficient to reach the optimal rheology. The setting of earth based concrete was studied with a penetrometer and a calorimeter. The accelerated phase of the CSA hydration occurred within 6 hours only when 5% of CSA was in the earth mixture. We can build on preliminary results that cement can be used to transform the interstitial liquid water between particles into chemically bound water that does not affect the flow. Mechanical tests on the dry self-compacting-clay concrete showed that it was possible to increase the compressive strength by a factor of six compared to rammed earth. Compressive strength of earth material is known to vary with the dry density and the clay content for compressed earth block; but the novelty of our approach is that the same results can be achieved with a material poured in a formwork, rather than compacted.

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