Navigation Links
Secret of sandcastle construction could help revive ancient building technique, researchers say
Date:6/2/2009

The secret of a successful sandcastle could aid the revival of an ancient eco-friendly building technique, according to research led by Durham University.

Researchers, led by experts at Durham's School of Engineering, have carried out a study into the strength of rammed earth, which is growing in popularity as a sustainable building method.

Just as a sandcastle needs a little water to stand up, the Durham engineers found that the strength of rammed earth was heavily dependent on its water content.

Rammed earth is a manufactured material made up of sand, gravel and clay which is moistened and then compacted between forms to build walls. Sometimes stabilisers such as cement are added but the Durham research focussed on unstabilised materials.

The research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and published in the journal Geotechnique, showed that a major component of the strength of rammed earth was due to the small amount of water present.

Small cylindrical samples of rammed earth underwent "triaxial testing" where external pressures are applied to model behaviour of the material in a wall. The researchers found that the suction created between soil particles at very low water contents was a source of strength in unstabilised rammed earth.

They showed that rammed earth walls left to dry after construction, in a suitable climate, could be expected to dry but not lose all their water. The small amount of water remaining provided considerable strength over time.

The researchers say their work could have implications for the future design of buildings using rammed earth as the link between strength and water content becomes clearer.

There is increasing interest in using the technique as it may help reduce reliance on cement in building materials (cement production being responsible for five per cent of man's CO2 output (1)). Rammed earth materials can usually also be sourced locally, thereby reducing transport needs.

As well as informing new build designs the team hopes their findings could also aid the conservation of ancient rammed earth buildings by putting methods in place to protect against too much water entering a structure, which would reduce its strength. Paul Jaquin, a researcher on the project is now working for an engineering consultancy (Ramboll, UK) on new earth building projects around the world, using this research to better engineer buildings.

Research project leader, Dr Charles Augarde, of Durham University's School of Engineering, said: "We know that rammed earth can stand the test of time but the source of its strength has not been understood properly to date.

"Without this understanding we cannot effectively conserve old rammed earth or make economic designs for new build.

"Our initial tests point to its main source of strength being linked to its water content.

"By understanding more about this we can begin to look at the implications for using rammed earth as a green material in the design of new buildings and in the conservation of ancient buildings that were constructed using the technique."

Rammed earth was developed in ancient China around 2,000 years before Christ, when people used the technique to build walls around their settlements and the technique spread throughout the world - as documented in another recent publication by the researchers linking up with Dr Chris Gerrard, of the Department of Archaeology, at Durham University (*).

Parts of the Great Wall of China and the Alhambra at Granada in Spain were built using rammed earth.

In the UK the technique was used to build experimental low cost housing, in Amesbury, Wiltshire, following the end of the First World War, and it is a recognised building method in parts of Australia and the USA.

The popularity of eco-friendly homes showcased on television programmes such as Grand Designs has also brought the technique to people's attention.

Dr Augarde is a co-director of Earth Building UK (EBUK), a new association established this year to foster the conservation, understanding and development of building with earth in the United Kingdom.

EBUK brings together builders, academics, researchers, architects, engineers, manufacturers and many more to work in areas of common interest at a national and local level.

Tom Morton, Secretary of Earth Building UK, said: "This kind of research is very valuable as the construction industry analyses environmentally sound, traditional ways of building and adapts them for sustainable construction in the 21st century.

"Such low-carbon technologies are most likely to succeed by marrying the expertise of our research universities, such as Durham, with the commercial understanding of the wider industry and we are seeing a number of very exciting developments in this area."


'/>"/>

Contact: Leighton Kitson
leighton.kitson@dur.ac.uk
44-191-334-0674
Durham University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Graphene yields secrets to its extraordinary properties
2. Pizza tossing art unlocks secrets of tiny motors
3. Secretropin(R) - Effective, Preferable, Affordable as an Alternative to Injectable Growth Hormone - Gains Momentum
4. Cracking the Code: Exclusive Conference to Reveal Secrets of Chinese Pharmaceutical Industry
5. Sea urchin yields a key secret of biomineralization
6. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gutierrez Cuts Ribbon on MaxWell Biocorporations New Pharmaceutical Development Center and Quality Control Laboratory in Ukraine
7. HHS Secretary Leavitt Announces Members of the National Biodefense Science Board
8. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gutierrez to Address AdvaMed 2007
9. NanoLogix Begins Construction of Production Facility for Medical Test Kits
10. New Generation Biofuels Completes Construction of Baltimore Facility
11. Asbestos, Pharmaceutical Liability, Construction Defects, Nanotech: Covered by Targeted CLE Teleconferences
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Andrew D ... http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 Published recently in ... from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , discusses ... care is placing an increasing burden on healthcare ... therapies. With the patents on many biologics expiring, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... a new line of intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma ... 12–17 in Chicago. The result of a collaboration among several companies with expertise ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... June 22, 2016 Research and Markets has ... report to their offering. ... 2014 from $29.3 billion in 2013. The market is expected to ... from 2015 to 2020, increasing from $50.6 billion in 2015 to ... forecasts during the forecast period (2015 to 2020) are discussed. As ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 2016   ViaCyte, Inc. , a privately-held regenerative ... replacement therapy for the treatment of diabetes in clinical-stage ... Meeting.  ISSCR 2016, the Global Stem Cell Event, is ... in San Francisco.    ... follows:Event: , Focus Session: Tools for Basic and Applied ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 First quarter 2016: ... up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% ... 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M ... revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... CHICAGO , April 15, 2016  A ... companies make more accurate underwriting decisions in a ... offering timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance ... health screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid ... and lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, ...
(Date:3/31/2016)...   LegacyXChange, Inc. ... LegacyXChange is excited to release its first ... be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed authentic ... also provide potential shareholders a sense of the value ... industry that is notorious for fraud. The video is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):