Earthen plasters: the potential of the clayey soils of Barrocal region in Algarve

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Due to their high adsorption capacity of water vapor, earthen plasters can act as a moisture buffer, contributing to balance the relative humidity of the indoor environment of buildings. As a consequence of this capacity earthen plasters may also contribute to the perception of thermal comfort, since a high relative humidity increases the thermal conductivity of air and restricts skin evaporation, increasing the discomfort associated with the perception of heat or cold. Simultaneously, earthen plasters may also contribute to the indoor air quality. In one hand, by mitigating health problems of the respiratory system associated with indoor environment with high relative humidity, in which increases the risk of development of microorganisms usually responsible for infections, allergies or asthma. In the other hand, by mitigating the probability of inflammation of the respiratory system airways associated to exceedingly dry indoor environments. Therefore it also becomes expectable that earthen plasters may contribute for reducing the needs for air conditioning and mechanical ventilation in buildings and, thereby, also allowing the reduction of the associated energy consumption. The «Barrocal» region, located in the sedimentary basin of Algarve, South Portugal, presents geomorphological characteristics that promote the occurrence of soils with a clay mineralogy dominated by illite, which is a clay mineral characterized by a high adsorption capacity of water vapor and low expansibility. This fact turns expectable that these soils have a high potential for interior plastering. In order to evaluate this potential four mortars were formulated with an increasing content of clayey soil extracted from a selected clay quarry from «Barrocal» region. The results from the preliminary characterization campaign confirmed the reduced linear shrinkage of these mortars, as well as their high adsorption-desorption capacity, that is positively correlated with the content of clayey soil present in mortar formulation. However, the mechanical tests showed that the mechanical resistance of these mortars should be improved, for instance through the addition of natural fibers for reinforcement, which will be investigated in future research. This research contributed to increase certainty regarding the potential of clayey soils of the «Barrocal» sub-region of Algarve to produce mortars suitable for eco-efficient interior plastering.
Original languageUnknown
Title of host publicationIAHS World Congresso on Housing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Event40th IAHS World Congresso on Housing. Sustainable Housing Construction -
Duration: 1 Jan 2014 → …


Conference40th IAHS World Congresso on Housing. Sustainable Housing Construction
Period1/01/14 → …

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