Compressed Earth Blocks. Manual of Production
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The purpose of this work was to evaluate and compare the fire resistance of CEB walls with and without cellulose pulp derived from the recycling of cement sacks. This article describes the Kraftterra mixture and its production processes as well as the fire resistance test campaign. Volume 37 , Issue 7. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account.
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View access options below. When guaranteed by quality control, CEB products can very easily bear comparison with other materials such as the sand-cement block or the fired brick. Hence the allegiance it inspires amongst decision-makers, builders and end-users alike. The future of CEBs CEB technology has made great progress thanks to scientific research, to experimentation, and to architectural achievements which form the basis of a wide range of technical documents and academic and professional courses.
Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks
A major effort is now being devoted to the question of norms and this should help to confer ultimate legitimacy upon the technique in the coming years. Advantages of CEBS The CEB technique has several advantages which deserve mention: The production of the material, using mechanical presses varying in design and operation, marks a real improvement over traditional methods of producing earth blocks, whether adobe or hand-compacted, particularly in the consistency of quality of the products obtained.
This quality furthers the social acceptance of a renewal of building with earth. Compressed earth block production is generally linked to the setting up of quality control procedures which can meet requirements for building products standards, or even norms, notably for use in urban contexts. In contexts where the building tradition already relies heavily on the use of small masonry elements fired bricks, stone' sand-cement blocks , the compressed earth block is very easily assimilated and forms an additional technological resource serving the socio-economic development of the building sector.
Policy-makers, investors and entrepreneurs find the flexibility of mode of production of the compressed earth block, whether in the rural or the urban context, small-scale or industrial, a convincing argument. Architects and the inhabitants of buildings erected in this material are drawn to the architectural quality of well-designed and well-executed compressed earth block buildings.
Technical performance Compacting the soil using a press improves the quality of the material. Builders appreciate the regular shape and sharp edges of the compressed earth block. The higher density obtained thanks to compaction significantly increases the compressive strength of the blocks, as well as their resistance to erosion and to damage from water.
Flexibility of use The wide range of presses and production units available on the current market makes the material very flexible to use.
With production ranging from small-scale to medium and large-scale semi-industrial or industrial, CEBs can be used in rural and urban contexts and can meet very widely differing needs, means and objectives. These standard block sizes and shapes, as well as the architectural models, can be defined before the programme begins, at the design stage, with great flexibility. Highly practical nature of the technology The common dimensions of CEBs lend themselves to great flexibility of use in various building solutions, as load-bearing masonry or as in-fill.
CEBs can also be used for arches, vaults and domes, as well as for jack-arch floors. Genuine architectural merit Very fine masonry work, equal to fired brick building traditions, can be realised thanks to the high quality of compressed earth blocks. The architectural application of CEBs can range from social housing to luxury homes and prestigious public buildings. Since the '50s, the experience of architects and builders has been considerably enriched by widely differing architectural realisations in all areas of application.
Experimentation has to a large extent given way to technological and architectural expertise and has enabled CEB technology to evolve to the point where today it can be considered the equal of other construction technologies using small masonry elements. An alternative to importation Whilst meeting the same requirements as other present-day building materials, the CEB also presents a technological alternative to imported materials, the use of which is often justified because of the need for standardisation.
CEBs have the advantage of being produced locally, whilst still meeting this need. Some constraints The quality of CEBs depends on good soil selection and preparation and on the correct choice of production material. Architectural use of the material must take account of specific design and application guidelines which must be applied by both architects and builders. This means that professional skills must be ensured by suitable training. From an economical point of view, CEBs can sometimes fail to be competitive with other local materials. A technical-economic survey will enable the feasibility of the technology to be determined in each application context.
Production The production of compressed earth blocks can be regarded as similar to that of fired earth blocks produced by compaction, except that there is no firing stage. Production will be differently organized, depending on whether it takes place in the context of small, "craft industry" units or brickworks , or in the context of a semi-industrial or industrial unit.
Production, drying and stocking areas will also vary depending on the methods of production selected and the production conditions dictated by the climatic, social, technical and economic environment. Generally speaking, as far as production rates are concerned, these will depend largely on the way production is organised and on the type of equipment used as well as on the skill of the labour-force.
Light, mechanical and hydraulic presses fall into this category. Production outputs for these presses are in the order of blocks per day. Mechanized manual presses also exist, and are generally heavier and more robust, but their outputs remain hardly any higher than that of light presses up to blocks per day. Motorized presses These are motor-driven and carry out only the compression and ejection of the block. Mechanical and hydraulic presses fall into this category.
Motorized mechanical presses form a new generation of presses, sometimes derived from heavy mechanized manual presses. They enable better rates of production and outputs can exceed blocks per day. Hydraulic motorized presses, which are descended from pumping and oil-circuit mechanisms, should only be used in a favourable technological environment. Their viability should be checked. Mobile production units light These are easily transportable, motorized and sometimes automated. Fixed production units These are difficult to transport, motorized and sometimes automated.
As far as production output is concerned it should be stressed that the figures supplied by manufacturers fairly often refer to a press's theoretical mechanical cycle, but that on site stated outputs can be lower, as production is very closely linked to the way in which production is located and organized. The CEB as a building material Compressed earth blocks are small masonry elements, parallelepiped in shape, but the common dimensions of which differ from those of hand-moulded earth blocks or of fired bricks and vary depending on the type of specially developed presses or moulds used.
Two main criteria must, however, be taken into account when determining a compressed earth block's dimensions, which should above all be suited to the great degree of flexibility in use which is one of the great qualities of this building material. These are: on the one hand the weight of the block, bearing in mind that they are solid blocks which are principally used in masonry, on the other hand the work or nominal dimensions of length 1 , width w and height h which will determine bonding patterns.
For this reason, as a rule, compressed earth block production has mainly used dimensions consistent with a unit weight in the order of 6 to 8 kg and with the possibility of building walls 15, 30 or 45 cm thick. The most common nominal dimensions in use today are There are 4 main families of blocks: 14 1.
Solid blocks These are mainly prismatic in shape. They fulfil very widely differing functions. Voids can improve the adherence of the mortar and reduce the weight of the block. Certain hollow blocks can be used to build ring-beams lost formwork. Perforated blocks These are light but require fairly sophisticated moulds and greater compressive force. They are suitable for reinforced masonry in earthquake areas.
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Interlocking blocks These can be assembled without mortar, but they require sophisticated moulds and high compressive force. They are often used for non-loadbearing structures. The issue is a more complex one and any comparison should rather be based on a wide register of parameters, including: the shape and dimensions of the material, its appearance surface, texture, attractiveness, as well as a full range of measures of performance, such as - indeed - dry and wet compressive strength, but also thermal insulation, apparent density, and durability.
But over and above this, aspects linked to the production and use of the material highlight all the complexity of such comparisons by taking account of such factors as the nature of the soil deposits supplying the raw material, the means by which this raw material is processed into a building material, the energy involved in this processing, the nature of the material when considered as a building component or element, and its state in the finished building, taking account of questions of durability and maintenance.
Technical aspects Its mechanical, static, hydrous, physical etc.
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Economic aspects Unit production cost, capital investment, etc. Health and safety aspects The emission of dangerous fumes, radioactivity etc. Psychological aspects The nature of the material, surface texture, colour, shape, luminosity, etc. Ecological aspects Deforestation, the hollowing out of hillsides as a result of quarrying, use of water and energy sources, production of pollution and waste material etc.
Social aspects Economic and social spin-offs resulting from job creation, socio-cultural acceptability, etc. Institutional aspects Legislation, insurance, norms, development policies linked to the setting up of productive industries, etc.
Taking these various aspects into account leads directly back to the need to carry out a preliminary technico-economic feasibility study before setting up a production system, for these considerations weigh heavily in the choice of system. The table Fig. Building with the "thob" or "otoub" in Egypt as early as pre-dynastic epoches 3rd century B.