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Miscellaneous questions about compressed earth blocks  RSS feed

 
Tom Connolly
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I am very curious about the uses of compressed earth block housing and construction so have been reading from many sources over the past months. I have some questions that I cannot find answers for in the posts:

1. Some bricks are made with holes in them - hollow? - and some are not. Why is this? I was thinking that a hollow brick might have better insulation properties because it is storing air. I know that in hollow block structures, the blocks are often filled with cement to make them stronger. Are there any other reasons?

2. I have seen that traditionally made bricks and cement structures can be made with carbon fibers, grass, etc which allows them to be stronger so that they can be hollow, thus using less materials. Can this same thing be done with CEB? Dirt may be dirt cheap, but it still costs something -including the cost of the cement that goes in it.

3. Can machines be purchased - or home made that produce bricks that are 20" thick? For example, 30" long, 20" tall and 20" wide? I know that such a brick would be heavy, and would probably require some kind of machine to set in place - maybe a tractor with a fork lift attached to the front loader? Still, it would probably simplify the task of putting the house together, save some time but, most importantly, create a house has thick walls for the sake of sound proofing, insulation against heat and providing some really cool window ledges inside.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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1. Some bricks are made with holes in them - hollow? - and some are not. Why is this? I was thinking that a hollow brick might have better insulation properties because it is storing air. I know that in hollow block structures, the blocks are often filled with cement to make them stronger. Are there any other reasons?


Many reasons, from weight reduction, and less material use, to the interlocking method they may employ. Dead air space or a void does not often come into play with many of these designs yet does have merit.

2. I have seen that traditionally made bricks and cement structures can be made with carbon fibers, grass, etc which allows them to be stronger so that they can be hollow, thus using less materials. Can this same thing be done with CEB? Dirt may be dirt cheap, but it still costs something -including the cost of the cement that goes in it.


I would question the wisdom of using "organics" in conjunction with many OPC products and not until you get into the lower percent ratios of CEB and related adobe systems would there be benefit from adding plant fiber to a matrix for strengthening. Each system and approach must be tested of course. At this point I am sure you have seen Civa Rams and the other hydraulic machines. I have used or participated in the use of several. My direct observation...you either must have lots and lots of bodies doing active work to maintain a reasonable production flow, or the addition of several pieces of heavy equipment.

3. Can machines be purchased - or home made that produce bricks that are 20" thick? For example, 30" long, 20" tall and 20" wide? I know that such a brick would be heavy, and would probably require some kind of machine to set in place - maybe a tractor with a fork lift attached to the front loader? Still, it would probably simplify the task of putting the house together, save some time but, most importantly, create a house has thick walls for the sake of sound proofing, insulation against heat and providing some really cool window ledges inside.


Anytime you cut one corner you so often create two more....As a textile artist (among other skill sets) this is both metaphorically and tangibly a true statement. Large blocks are not an ergonomic, viable, or often a tangible solution to such systems. If you haven't, you need to gain some "real world" experience with adobe, cobb, and block construction then devise a plan that works best for your area, its resources and your skill sets.

Regards,

j
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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1. Three reasons--less material needed, able to run electric and plumbing through the raises, and able to fill with rebar and concrete for earthquake resistance (and code).

2. If you can get in incorporated so it doesn't create weak clumps and it won't degrade making in weaker in the long term. Has to be inorganic. I don't think it is a good idea, but I would welcome to be proven wrong.

3. I have seen a machine that makes the BIG blocks like the commercial retaining wall blocks. It was a 6 or 7 figure machine, and needed several other 5-6 figure machines to support it. Not really practical, by that point you should probably just do rammed earth.

 
Tom Connolly
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Thanks! Yes, one of the things I am looking into with CEB is the ability to make blocks of different sizes and shapes for different purposes, including house walls, retaining walls, roof tiles, shed walls.
 
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