Washington: Spanish and Scottish researchers have made bricks that are stronger and more environmentally-friendly.
They have added wool fibres to the clay material used to make bricks and combined these with an alginate, a natural polymer extracted from seaweed.
"The objective was to produce bricks reinforced with wool and to obtain a composite that was more sustainable, non-toxic, using abundant local materials, and that would mechanically improve the bricks` strength", Carmen Galan and Carlos Rivera, authors of the study and researchers at the Schools of Architecture in the Universities of Seville (Spain) and Strathclyde (Glasgow, United Kingdom), said.
The wool fibres were added to the clay material used in the bricks, using alginate conglomerate, a natural polymer found in the cell walls of seaweed. The mechanical tests carried out showed the compound to be 37 pc stronger than other bricks made using unfired stabilised earth.
Brick manufacturers in Scotland, which was also the source of the wool, since the local textile industry cannot use everything it produces, provided the clay-based soils.
"The aim was to produce a material suitable for adverse climatic conditions, such as the specific ones in the United Kingdom", the authors explain.
The researchers studied the effect of reinforcing various soil types with sheep`s wool, and arrived at various conclusions.
"These fibres improve the strength of compressed bricks, reduce the formation of fissures and deformities as a result of contraction, reduce drying time and increase the bricks` resistance to flexion".
The study has been published in the Journal Construction and Building Materials.