Stabilised Rammed Earth For Walls : Materials, Compressive Strength And Elastic Properties
Kumar, Prasanna P
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Rammed earth is a technique of forming in-situ structural wall elements using rigid formwork. Advantages of rammed earth walls include flexibility in plan form, scope for adjusting strength and wall thickness, variety of textural finishes, lower embodied carbon and energy, etc. There is a growing interest in the construction of rammed earth buildings in the recent past. Well focused comprehensive studies in understanding the structural performance of rammed earth structures are scanty. Clear-cut guidelines on selecting soil grading and soil characteristics, assessing strength of rammed earth walls, density strength relationships, limits on shrinkage, standardised testing procedures, behaviour of rammed earth walls under in-plane and out of plane loads, etc are the areas needing attention. The thesis attempts to address some of these aspects of cement stabilized rammed earth for structural walls. Brief history and developments in rammed earth construction with illustrations of rammed earth buildings are presented. A review of the literature on rammed earth has been provided under two categories: (a) Unstabilised or pure rammed earth and (b) stabilised rammed earth. Review of the existing codes of practice on rammed earth has also been included. Summary of the literature on rammed earth along with points requiring attention for further R&D are discussed. Objectives and scope of the thesis are listed. The thesis deals with an extensive experimentation on cement stabilised rammed earth (CSRE) specimens and walls. Four varieties of specimens (cylindrical, prisms, wallettes and full scale walls) were used in the experiments. A natural soil and its reconstituted variants were used in the experimental work. Details of the experimental programme, characteristics of raw materials used in the experimental investigations, methods of preparing different types of specimens and their testing procedures are discussed in detail. Influence of soil grading, cement content, moulding water content, density and delayed compaction on compaction characteristics and strength of cement stabilised soil mixes were examined. Five different soil gradings with clay content ranging between 9 and 31.6% and three cement contents (5%, 8% and 12%) were considered. Effect of delayed compaction (time lag) on compaction characteristics and compressive strength of cement stabilised soils was examined by monitoring the results up to 10 hours of time lag. Influence of moulding water content and density on compressive strength and water absorption of cement stabilised soils was examined considering for a range of densities and water contents. The results indicate that (a) there is a considerable difference between dry and wet compressive strength of CSRE prisms, and the strength decreases as the moisture content at the time of testing increases, (b) wet strength is less than that of dry strength and the ratio between wet to dry strength depends upon the clay fraction of soil mix and cement content, (c) saturated moisture content depends upon the cement content and the clay content of the soil mix, (d) optimum clay percentage yielding maximum compressive strength is about 16%, (e) compressive strength of compacted cement stabilised soil increases with increase in density irrespective of cement content and moulding moisture content, and the strength increases by 300% for 20% increase in density from 15.70 kN/m3, (f) compressive strength of rammed earth is one - third higher than that of rammed earth brick masonry and (g) density decreases with increase in time lag and there is 50% decrease in strength with 10 hour time lag. Stress-strain relationships and elastic properties of cement stabilised rammed earth are essential for the analysis of CSRE structural elements and understanding the structural behaviour of CSRE walls. Influence of soil composition, density, cement content and moisture on stress-strain relationships of CSRE was studied. Three different densities (15.7 – 19.62 kN/m3) and three cement percentages (5%, 8% and 12% by weight) were considered for CSRE. Stress-strain characteristics of CSRE and rammed earth brick masonry were compared. The results reveal that (a) in dry condition the post peak response shows considerable deformation (strain hardening type behaviour) beyond the peak stress and ultimate strain values at failure (dry state) are as high as 3.5%, which is unusual for brittle materials, (b) modulus for CSRE increases with increase in density as well as cement content and there is 1 to 3 times increase as the cement content changes from 5% to 12%. Similarly the modulus increases by 2.5 to 5 times as the dry density increases from 15.7 to 19.62 kN/m3 and (c) the modulus of CSRE and masonry in dry state are nearly equal, whereas in wet state masonry has 20% less modulus. Compressive strength and behavior of storey height CSRE walls subjected to concentric compression was studied. The results of the wall strength were compared with those of wallette and prism strengths. The wall strength decreases with increase in slenderness ratio. There is nearly 30% reduction in strength as the height to thickness ratio increases from 4.65 to 19.74. It was attempted to calculate the ultimate compressive strength of CSRE walls using the tangent modulus theory. At higher slenderness ratios, there is a close agreement between the experimental and predicted values. The storey height walls show lateral deflections as the load approaches failure. The walls did not show visible buckling and the shear failure patterns indicate material failure. The shear failures noticed in the storey height walls resemble the shear failures of short height wallette specimens. The thesis ends with a summary of the results with concluding remarks in the last chapter.
- Civil Engineering (CiE) 
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