In developing countries, most of the population cannot afford conventional building blocks made with the sand-cement mixture. In addition, these blocks do not provide thermal comfort and have a high embodied energy compared to vernacular materials. The main objective of this work was to produce low cost, resistant and durable (good resistance to water) blocks with a thermal behaviour enabling quality comfort indoor. For that purpose, the effects of cow-dung on microstructural changes in earth blocks (adobes) are investigated by means of X-ray diffraction, thermal gravimetric analyses, scanning electronic microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectrometry, and video microscopy. The effects of these changes on the physical properties (water absorption and linear shrinkage) and mechanical properties (flexural and compressive strengths) of adobe blocks are evaluated. It is shown that cow-dung reacts with kaolinite and fine quartz to produce insoluble silicate amine, which glues the isolated soil particles together. Moreover, the significant presence of fibres in cow-dung prevents the propagation of cracks in the adobes and thus reinforces the material. The above phenomena make the adobe microstructure homogeneous with an apparent reduction of the porosity. The major effect of cow-dung additions is a significant improvement in the water resistance of adobe, which leads to the conclusion that adobes stabilized by cow-dung are suitable as building materials in wet climates.
Bibliographical noteThe final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1617/s11527-016-0808-6
- Insoluble silicate amine
- Lateritic clay
- Microstructure changes
- Physical and mechanical properties