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Effect of Jointing Mortar on Structural Behaviour of Wall Panels Made of Eco-blocks

WO Oyawa
TM Musiomi


Inspired by the global need for sustainable development earth(soil) is re-emerging as the grand eco-material for building construction for the 21st century due to its availability, environmental/cultural appropriateness, structural adequacy, familiarity to the local people, “breathability”, amongst others. Accordingly, both developed and developing countries have embarked on initiatives to develop and promote earth-based construction materials for building construction, especially for use in masonry wall construction. On-going studies conducted clearly demonstrate that eco-blocks made of stabilized soil and quarry dust have comparable or higher strength than conventional dressed stone blocks used in Nairobi or coral stone blocks used in Mombasa. This paper focuses on evaluating the realistic structural behavior of prototype walls made from eco-blocks (earth-based blocks) with the goal of seeking to provide economical alternative material for masonry wall construction. The main variable is the type of jointing mortar used in walls, whereby wall panels made from eco-blocks and various mortars were loaded to failure on a loading frame while monitoring strains on the wall surface as well as load increments up to failure. The walls failed by developing wide cracks whose pattern depended on the type of mortar used. Further, the results confirmed that walls constructed from mortar of comparable strength to that of the blocks have higher load carrying capacity than walls constructed from mortar of higher strength than that of the blocks, attributable to the extent of homogeneity for each tested wall type. It is concluded that wall panels made from stabilized eco-blocks ought to be jointed in mortar of comparable characteristics to that of the eco-blocks, to avoid excessive cracking, reduced load carrying capacity and wasteful design.