I’ve been toying with ideas about bottle walls. There’s quite a few websites that have photos of various walls. (here’s a nice one: http://inspirationgreen.com/glassbottlewalls.html )
I’ve tried to find sites that discuss the properties of these walls- insulative properties, thermal mass, strength, R-values, yada yada and etc. This site comes the closest: http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/QandA/recycle/bottles.htm.
I know this is a pretty broad topic and could go in many directions, but I’d like to start a thread so others can offer input, perhaps sharing any experimental info you’ve done on your walls.
A thought that comes to mind: Most of the walls I’ve seen are built with the bottles laid perpendicular to the wall and the open end of the bottle facing inside the structure. It seems like this would eliminate the possibility of using those bottles as thermal mass/storage. Wouldn’t it better to close them?
Also thinking of using them in conjunction with a rocket mass heater or woodstove, but then I started thinking about how much heat the bottles can withstand. It’d be terrible if they shattered.
Just some things to tuck in the back of mind for mulling. Thanks for any input!
But anyway, how they do their glass bottles is they pair them with a mason jar, so you put the small mouth of say a soda bottle, into the large mouth of a mason jar, then duct tape them together so they stay, but its not totally airtight. Then they wrap this assembly with a strip of thin aluminum to help refract the light. You dont see the metal or tape because that is the part that gets buried (by, presumably, cob). I thought it was really quite brilliant.
I have access to lots of wine bottles, but I don't think they're necessarily able to take a lot of pressure, but like Ludi pointed out, champagne bottles are thicker since they have to withstand the pressure caused by the carbonation. I suppose the same holds for beer bottles.
We've always left them open, but do be warned that wasp and other insects will make homes in them if the open end points out (doesn't bother us, it is neat to watch the wasps very close from the inside).
You can use any bottle, even plastic. The shape of the bottle gives it strength, and once your mortar is set up, you could pull the bottle out and the wall would stand just fine.
The nice thing about capping them with a jar or having them go through the wall is the light they let through. It is really attractive.
It may be that they are referring to "Building Green".
The following is an excerpt of a review that I wrote on that book a few months ago. ------------------------------------------------------------------------
The best book on green building which I've ever encountered is called "Building Green" by Clark Snell and Tim Callahan. It covers a wide variety of green building choices and examines important issues like durability and labor efficiency. Tim Callahan has been a builder most of his life and at the end of each segment gives a rundown of the pros and cons of each building system described.
Now back to bottles. The Glass Castle . I demolished a small tourist complex called the glass Castle and mini golf course. The constructor of this facility failed to give the roof adequate overhang and water got in behind the bottles and rotted out the house. He also used mortar with far too much Portland cement in it. This didn't allow the flexibility needed during the freeze thaw cycles. Any mortar used to encase fragile glass must have enough lime incorporated so that the bottles don't crack.
If you go to the 19:45 mark, you’ll see a cutaway mockup of the way they did the walls. This is what I have in mind for my design. The bottle ends are visible from the outside, but not in the interior.
They also mention that a special mortar formula had to be used that allowed enough flex & permeability for the glass expansion, which is exactly what you’re talking about Dale.
From what I’ve read, you shouldn’t have both Portland and lime in one design mix. Am I understanding that right? So, do you think a standard lime mortar would be best?
Hi guys, we built a 5x5 window over a tub and shower out of bottles and think we pretty successfully licked the open neck dilemma. See the link for my blog. We've enjoyed the window for over a year with no problemo. Good luck with your projects.
I can't speak from experience so that makes this about as useful as any other comment, but I don't see them being a problem.
Good luck! Send us pics when it's done!
I did a small retaining wall 5 years ago and left the labels and it seems fine. It's only 2 feet high. The one I am goign to build is 5 feet high and is in the path of potentially more water seepage. I looked at a friends wall that is 5 feet high, labels on, and some of the bottle are working their way loose.
taking the labels off of thousands of bottles is a major chore. But I want to be sure the wall will hold up for decades, if not centuries. Any advice?
Also, do bottle walls need rebar reinforcements or 'foundations' ie. concrete base when they are this large, oh, building a straight wall 50 feet by 5 feet.
Looking forward to some responses!
What do you think about ... using beer bottles but in a slightly different way.
I'm interested in the capability of the bottles for strength and to to hold air - a good insulator. For me the light factor is not so high on the agenda, but re-use of a throwaway product, inexpensive building material, and easy to work with are important criteria.
I'm building in a warm temperate part of Australia, lattitude 30' S, A tad hot in summer and barely enough chill in winter to set stone fruit.
I plan to use beer bottles as hidden bricks in a structural wall. I'll be giving the bottled adobe a bit of assistance by using a fired brick column one and a half bricks square, every 6' / 180cms . Our bricks are 230 long x 110mm thick so the column width is 350mm, beer bottles are 280mm that leaves 70mm - ie 35mm each end (about 1 3/8") I expect that the straw rich cobb mix will have no trouble adhering to the necks but the bases may be a little slippery. To that purpose I will alternate butts and necks for good adhesion. Another thought was to use a strip of chicken wire in the wall - tied into the brick column for further support.
I am wondering what the compressive strength such a wall would have? Does anyone have any ideas? I was thinking of using a steel reinforced top beam of 3" depth to spread the load of the roof members. Since I'm hoping to do a sod roof, that will be important
Type N mortar (which is one of the mortars suggested for glass block walls) is 1 part Portland cement, 1 part lime and 6 parts sand.
I've been doing a stupid amount of research on this as I'm in love with the blue bottle studio/outhouse/garden art at Luna Parc
but I live in Michigan so we get some fiercely cold winters and am worried about expansion/contraction causing cracks in the walls.
Apparently hydrated lime is the answer as it adds flexibility to the mortar as well as increased adhesion between the mortar and glass and some water proofing (while still allowing the wall to breathe).
I have even found some recipes that include lime in cob for exactly the same reasons as listed above.
NOTE: all lime is note created equal...you have to get "Hydrated" lime....that's what the mason's use...not ag lime.
Would love to hear more about other people experiences with bottle walls.... I'm still in the bottle collecting phase.
Edit: I must say the more I toy with this one the more I like this little thought I'm thinking . The chimney gets lighter as it moves out. A good heavy strong core. Could run 3 or 6 rebar in the mud on very inside for added support. Someone quick - dash my hope and dreams with some materials engineering realities.
With windows, the measurement for Uvalues is often broken into two measurements; center of glass and whole window. The center of the glass on any multi pane window, gas fill or not, is going to be much higher performing than the edge of the glass where the frame and spacer begins to influence its performance.
Glass bottles have a lot of thermal bridging making them a poor choice in climates that require much heating in my opinion. I think Tyler's method would help the problem but then you lose the light advantage. Of course an all mortar wall has almost no insulation so I guess its just a way of recycling and saving mortar.
from the bottles. Also, we're toying with the idea of plugging the ends of the bottles with silicone and a marble - would that work as well as capping or do you
think the CO2 needs to be under pressure?
As far as breaking the thermal bridge, Brian, my friend is wanting to make a bottle wall out of bottle "bricks" (two bottles cut in half and the cylindrical ends/bottoms taped together), but I thought if she used silicone to adhere the two bottle bottoms together that would create a break the thermal bridge between the inside and the
outside. However, I don't really know anything about the thermal properties of silicone, but the kitchen utensils we have sure doesn't seem to conduct any heat/cold
On another note...anyone know the crush strength of your basic wine bottle? I'm thinking I'll have to build a frame for the walls and roof...a friend of mine has a boat
load of old power line wooden poles that she and her husband got in trade for letting the power company use their property to store equipment during a rural
upgrade project. I'd rather not have the poles visible, but would REALLY not rather have the snow load on the roof crush the walls even more.
Here's the link to the picture that started my obsession, hope it inspires more insanity.
I'm very pleased with the results and plan to do more like it. In our butcher shop I'm about to put in a glass block wall. I've been wanting to do one of those for a long time.
The surface of glass bottles can be roughened to create a better surface for adhesion by treating them with phosphoric acid.
Now you could soak all your bottles in Coca-Cola, because that is a weak solution of phosphoric acid, but it might take a while to rough up the surface for better adhesion of the mortar. A more concentrated phosphoric acid product is naval jelly or other rust removal preparations you can find in the paint aisle of your local hardware store.
Peace and Love Dave OXOXOX
I'd like to throw in another variable, as some are hashing out different scenarios with uncut bottles (facing inwards, outwards, open, sealed, or with jars over the neck) or with cut bottoms mated to create "bricks" (more light xmission, sealed, greater color control through mixing halves provided sizes match up).
Well, one project that I'm working on besides using the "brick" method is what I'll call (for lack of better terminology) the "Chinese medicine cabinet half-brick" method. (Google Chinese medicine cabinet and peruse the images to get my gist) What's happening here is that the half bottle wall will have open ends facing into one room, and these will actually become a "set of drawers" of sorts: I've found that poster tubes fit almost perfectly into the average wine bottle, we're just cutting them to length, then cutting lengthwise to obtain a trough, using 6mm cardstock on the ends, add a handle and voilà fini! Great for holding smaller components in an integrated and attractive way (final outside decoration & hardware up to you). I have yet to see this method anywhere else, despite intensive searching.
Many seem to be interested in integrating their furniture in cob walls and such, this is a great application of a few methods.
Regarding the previous post about removing bottles from the waste chain, David puts forth some good considerations, however upon thinking about it, I feel a couple of variables were missing, some practical, some personal:
--I think one of the attractions of the glass brick is its regularity of shape and size, something hard to come across with some of the alternatives he gives (aerosol cans are good, just hard to find, glass/cook/tableware varies wildly and is usually chucked because it's broken).
--If we're looking at regularity of building units, what's the standard? A brick. Lasts long, seen a bit as green because of this, and I believe it is this durability that is one of the aspects the glass brick is seeking to replicate, albeit with added function. Alas, removing the glass from the waste stream will affect the supply and such, though let's compare with the brick:
*1 clay brick requires 1.75 kW (6000 BTU) to manufacture
*1 NEW glass bottle 1.1 kW to make
*1 post consumer glass bottle 0.75 kW to make (our ~30% savings)
*1 aluminum can 2.07 kW, just for giggles.
So, the brick requires a bit more energy to create (as well as emits more green house gasses). Of course, you may attempt to source out used bricks, if you can find them (I can't, as brick construction is not very popular here in Korea), but then you have to clean off the old mortar to get them ready for use (if we were whining about getting labels off of bottles....all I can say is that in demolition, usually it's the brick that breaks and the mortar is left intact Even if the bottle is removed from the waste stream, the energy to make a new one is still much less than the brick.
As mentioned before, bottles are ubiquitous, and "free is my favorite flavor." Safe to say that most of us here in the spirit of DIY are working on a budget. Additionally it's probable that folks trolling these forums don't favor the industries that create this cycle in the first place, who pass the container costs on to the consumer for the product they buy, the consumer then diligently consumes said product, and returns the empty container/materials back to the company with no recompense only to be sold the product again and pay the container fee once again. I speculate that there is a certain contingent with the mentality that another's waste/excess could be their gain/profit, and akin to dumpster diving, will put to good/better use something that was thrown away as unwanted.
Lastly, the ethos of "being green" besides reducing that which is consumed in the first place, stresses "re-use" before resorting to recycling (last step). Reusing a bottle as a permanent component in a long term habitation would be a higher calling for it, and should its building ever fall out of use and be destroyed, it can still be recycled as this would have been a sabbatical from its product cycle (in the recycling random stuck mortar, etc, wouldn't be the end of the world, just skimmed off with the rest of the slag in the refining process).
Please don't see this as an attack, it's more information/opinion to ponder.
Have a good weekend!
Google search: chinese medicine cabinet
Lets look at 1 tonne of glass
1000kg > 700kg > 490kg > 343kg > 240kg > 168kg > 117kg ect
This is how much product is reused per cycle from that original 1 tonne of glass that's recycled
And to simply state it's a 30% saving is misleading , as it's 30% saved each cycle (BTU's), That's just energy costs .... It's also used 90%-70% less external inputs of silica , Less mining and transport and associated co2 footprint for those actions, 90% more beach left
Our state doesn't have the cash for cans or bottles system in place , though our neighboring states do......
Sorry this was a quick post and i have no supporting links , but i'm 10 mins late taking kids to school XD .... will edit with links when i have a chance , but is easily verifiable
A bottle wall should allow for even heating. When heat is quickly wicked away from the surface, that surface stays cooler and less heat is lost.
Talked about some, and here are a few pictures ! Big AL
I want to build a tromb wall and wonder if they would be suitable
A trombe wall is typically of more solid material.
So what is the thermal gain on a glass bottle wall?
You are right to ask this question. This would depend on how much glass bottles are placed in the wall as opposed to mortar (of cob, concrete, or whatever), or other materials like stone that were in your wall. The glass in a bottle has similar thermal mass as Dale said
but the airspace in the glass bottle itself will not act as a thermal mass in the same way as the glass in the bottle.
Glass, cob and brick are very similar in their ability to store heat.
This is as far as I know.
I would love to know if bottle walls actually had a similar thermal mass potential as cob or brick, but at this time I have seen no data to back that up. Please correct me, Dale.
There will be convection currents within the bottle and a slow conduction or radiation back to the surface of the glass and back into the mortar and then slowly out to the room, but the bottle space in the wall is perhaps more insulative than it is thermal mass. I don't know of any science behind this, besides the obvious that I describe.
People do put glass bottles in some trombe walls, but the bottles are generally few and far between and are used to bring a bit of light through what would be a solid opaque wall. Interestingly, I was recently researching and revisiting the trombe wall thing a bit and came across a place with some glass in the wall (these are glass bricks) and a conventional window. So here is the link to the Trombe wall with some glass bricks
The glass bricks would be more in line with what Dale said in the quote, in my opinion, since this is solid glass, but a few bottles should not take a great deal away from the thermal potential of a traditional otherwise solid Trombe wall.
In my opinion (I'm no engineer), A full on classic bottle wall on the other hand, using the bottles as 'bricks' with minimal mortar (cob, concrete, whatever), will not result in the same thermal mass potential as a Trombe wall of cob or brick, but it will do a great deal more towards a thermal mass potential than a large window, or series of windows of regular glass inset in a similar wall of cob or brick.
link with bottles as thermal break
This would further lead me to believe that the bottles act more as insulation than as thermal mass.