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Past and current research:
2015-2016: Ryan Clancy, University of Limerick
Earth has been used for thousands of years as a building material. There are numerous buildings across the world that still are made of cob, adobe, rammed earth and such. Many earthen buildings have even withstood heavy earthquakes.
A modern variation of earth construction is the use of stabilized earth blocks. These blocks are made from a mixture of earth and sand, with cement or lime as stabilizer, and a bit of water added. Then with a simple press these blocks are compressed. They don’t need to be fired which consumes expensive and often scarce firewood, but they are simply dried in the outside air. Initial curing takes about 10 days and then they are ready for masonry.
For our school building in India we used the Mardini Press, which has been developed at the Technical University in Bangalore. This machine we will modify so that it can be used for making different block sizes and for different purposes.
In terms of seismic resistance, building with stabilized earth blocks looks quite promising when compared to other types of earth block masonry. Part of this research is to develop a system of blocks, as well as to design a set of special moulds and plates, to be used for building in seismic areas. It is very important that the minimum required compression of 35 kg/cm² is met with the new and modified machine.