The goal of this ongiong research is the development of a building system for housing based on specially treated (stabilized) soil. Researchers are investigating the chemical and physical bonds between different soil types and mixtures and acrylic polymer additives which are used for the stabilization of the end product (adobe brick or rammed earth). The Center has been working on this project for a number of years and has tested different materials and methods, reaching very promising results. A demonstration house built at the Sede-Boqer Campus using earth construction has attracted numerous visitors since its completion in the early 1980's.
The fact that the a large proportion of the Third World's rural population lives in earth-based structures, and the common opinion of researchers that earth is the only building material with which the world housing shortage may be solved, grant this project great importance. Since the manufacture of soil bricks requires only a fraction of the energy needed to produce cement-based materials, earth construction can lower energy imports and contribute toward a less polluted environment.
Building Materials Made of Fly-Ash
Extensive research has been undertaken in the use of industrial waste consisting of fly ash from power plants as a raw material for manufacturing building materials. The shift from oil-based to coal-based electricity production has increased the quantity of fly ash produced in Israel to over 700,000 tons annually. This large volume of waste became one of the most significant problems of environmental protection, as its disposal is expensive and non-productive. Experiments conducted at the Center focused on the utilization of this waste material for the production of high quality bricks, blocks and other building elements which are less energy intensive than their conventional counterparts. This research has yielded patented technology for the production of concrete-like blocks based on oil-shale and coal fly-ash, cured under normal atmospheric conditions.
A particularly interesting material that has been developed is ash-based cellular concrete, which in addition to being based on industrial waste, is also manufactured through a low-energy process. The manufacture of conventional cellular concrete of comparable properties requires very high energy input.
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