Experimental assessment of bio-based earth bricks durability

Aurélie Laborel-Préneron, Marie Giroudon, Jean Emmanuel Aubert, Camille Magniont, Paulina Faria

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Construction is one of the most polluting industrial sectors, that is the reason why developing sustainable building materials is a world-wide interest. Earth bricks have recently been more and more studied, mainly regarding their mechanical and hygrothermal properties. The interest in adding plant aggregates to an earth matrix, notably to improve the thermal behaviour, has also been shown. However, durability of the materials is a major concern to sustain performance levels, to limit maintenance and to ensure the comfort and safety of the occupants. Although earth construction seems to be durable, with the various examples of the vernacular heritage in France and all over the world, unstabilised earth is quite sensitive to environmental factors (weather, occupants, micro-organisms). The resistance of an earthen material to liquid water is particularly low, and the addition of plant fibres may decrease its resistance even more. Moreover, the incorporation of organic matter, containing cellulose, raises questions about the composite resistance to moulds. Investigations are thus needed to assess several durability properties. The present paper studies and compares durability of earth bricks containing 0% and 3% weight content of barley straw, lavender straw and rice husk. Some durability tests corresponding to weathering or occupants' actions are conducted: a wet erosion test is performed to simulate rain or accidental water droplets and the resistances to dry abrasion and to impact are also appraised. The resistance to fungal growth is also investigated. Results show a considerable interest in adding lavender straw in earth bricks. Indeed, a very good compromise has been found concerning properties of weathering durability and to microorganisms. The addition of lavender straw improves the dry abrasion resistance of earth bricks whereas rice husk and barley straw additions decrease it. The two types of straw greatly increase the resistance to wet erosion of earth bricks while rice husk only in a smaller extent. Concerning the brick resistance to impact, its behaviour is considerably improved by the addition of the three kinds of plant aggregates, particularly rice husk. Finally, as expected, the bricks made of earth alone are the more resistant to fungal growth. However, the addition of rice husk maintains a very high resistance with the first mould observed after only 10 weeks of incubation at 93% of relative humidity and 30°C.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalIOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2019
EventInternational Conference Innovative Materials, Structures and Technologies, IMST 2019
- Riga Technical University, Riga, Latvia
Duration: 25 Sep 201927 Sep 2019


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