Geodesic The Concept
As related to a cost effective mass housing solution.

 

Alternative Building Materials

Cellulose Composites

Hemp

Thatching
 


Cellulose Composites


Cellulose Composites by Construction Technologies
http://www.construction-technologies.com/lyfordg/biocomposite_materials.html

Inresponse to pressures on existing construction materials and practices, there has been increasing interest in cellulose composites. It is becoming evident that new types of building materials have the potential to make buildings which offer lower operating costs and increased durability in an environmentally friendly way.

On a per project basis, these new materials are available for construction projects at rates which are competitive with conventional materials. The materials are part of a project management service which assists clients to reach their goals in constructing the building.
Construction Technologies, a Calgary, Alberta, Canada company has been working on cellulose composite building materials since 1990 and has now developed prototype materials using locally grown industrial hemp and flax, and crop residue fibers. Cellulose becomes extremely fire resistant when combined with mineral binders in the proprietary composites developed by the company.

With cellulose composites, it is possible to design the structural and insulating qualities, the heat retaining qualities to suit climate and strength needs. Building components such as walls, roof and floors may be poured in place or moulded for later use.

The designs which accompany the material are monolithic, one piece, of- a-thickness panels and components and vary in density as required. Plans are to produce a prototype which will demonstrate an interior partition wall system and the structural use of thick panels in floor, roof and wall in a prototype building. The principal in the company, Geoffrey Lyford, has project manager and craftsman with about 23 years experience in many phases of construction. Since 1990 he has been involved with modern versions of ancient building technologies such as rammed earth and cellulose composites. Most recently the company developed a panelized concrete building system in conjunction with another technology company. Previously, the company consulted in manufacturing stress skin or structural insulating panels (SIP), erecting the first completely SIP prototype in Alberta, Canada.

A unique and exclusive approach to understanding the origins of materials forms the basis of Construction Technologies product development: that is the blending of modern high production capability with ancient ways of deriving materials from the environment.
Ancient ways are good ways when it comes to sustainable construction. Traditional builders take local natural resources and use them well. The challenge has been to take ancient materials and create ways to produce high volumes of modern housing with the considerable technology we have at our disposal at this very moment.

It was important to take stock in the physical environment, but to say in an elementary way - minerals are most abundant, cellulose from plants second most abundant. Can a house be made with dirt? Can a house be made with fibers or sticks? How do combinations of minerals and cellulose work? What are all the ways this has been done. How did the ancients do this? What are the qualities of each and how do they affect materials for construction?

It became clear that minerals offer structural compressive strength and heat retaining qualities, while cellulose tends toward structural tensile strength and insulating qualities. It also became clear that the materials and the designs complement each other. It was not enough just to develop a new stud to put into an old wall, but take a fresh look at how the materials could be used in new/old ways and to use the shapes of components to give strength.

This vision of housing takes the best of the ancient materials, improves the processing and ingredients of materials for durability, function and strength, and derives methods of high production at low cost. Why not combine the best of both and achieve a synthesis greater than the parts. Work began on a low tech level, while the strength and durability of the materials and coatings has gradually improved. Even the first materials had exciting properties of insulation and heat retention, and they combine the attributes of wood and ceramics.

The latest cellulose composite materials contain minerals and binders as well, but are lighter and of higher strength. We expect to have a new batch of materials and test results available soon.

In growing plants, lignins occur naturally with cellulose. Some manufacturing processes use these natural binders to form products such as straw board, or cast hemp. On the mineral side, several promising minerals react favorably with each other and with cellulose. These areas currently occupy investigation for application in cellulose composites.

Modern housing standards in some ways lack the self-sufficiency of the old, but we are coming around to that point again where a house must look after itself without extra energy input other than sun and wind for heat or cooling. And modern technologies have given us the belief that we can build self-sufficiently.

Life cycle accounting for housing costs are another way of seeing a more holistic picture. How much financial input, energy input is required for the life of the structure, in maintenance, heating, cooling. How long will the structure last.

Ancient cultures existed for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. They relied on materials from their environment to create wealth. We can look at how they took raw materials and created shelter. Our Product Development combines traditional materials with modern technology.

 

Farmers, invest in your farm and manufacture building materials on the farm., using agricultural cellulose, recycled materials, and earth materials.

You will need:
     · Cellulose materials
     · Clay subsoil and other materials
     · Water
     · Space for production
     · Farm equipment
     · Other equipment
     · Investment: Time and Money
     · Buildings to build
     · Personal interest in building materials and designs
     · Commitment to produce a product for sale and barter

Uses for Product:
     · New construction and renovation
     · Structural and insulating exterior and interior walls
     · Roof structures
     · Blocks and panels
     · Decorative mouldings
     · Movable partition walls
     · Doors, windows, frames and trims
     · Sound proofing
     · Fire walls, armoured walls
     · Raw Materials:

Plant Materials
Earth Materials
Recycled Materials
Flax Clay subsoil Gyproc
Hemp Sand and gravel Wood
Straws Gypsum Plaster
Willow Pozzolanics Paper
Fast growing shrubs and trees Lime Old buildings
High cellulose 'weeds' Other minerals Other
Other special plants    

Manufacturing and marketing will be provided in cooperation with farmers. There are no products at present in the marketplace which are as cost effective for use in renovation and construction, which are as beneficial to the environment and which can be produced on farms and used on farms. This technology is based on ancient technology adapted for modern use. The products will enable construction and renovation of buildings at reasonable cost and of superior performance than previously available, and the variety of details and products we can make for the architecture is unlimited. By using this material, older homes may be renovated economically to be more self-sufficient without the high heating bills, and there are thousands of homes in this category without any insulation whatsoever. Plans are to publish a series of books as a means of education and publicity for solar renovations, which will be franchised with the books and the new building materials in expanded markets. In addition, projects are being planned which will use these materials in community developments and commercial and agricultural applications.

Ancient Material, Modern Techniques

The ancient techniques are being adapted as modest to high production formats for manufacturing on farms. The formats produced and the new coatings available move the technology into the modern age, surpassing standard construction methods which combine many different expensive manufactured products to achieve the same result which can be achieved with these agriculturally produced building products.

An Agricultural Building Product

The product would be an ancient building product in modern form. These materials give superior performance, quicker construction time and lower cost to the user, thus will be attractive in the building material marketplace. In order to make use of available equipment, the Earth- Cellulose material would be formulated as a slurry which would cast either flat or in place for both exterior and interior walls. The slurry has the potential to be shot-creted, on walls for insulation and over lattice work frames for roof and walls. The lattice would be composed of materials obtained form fast growing shrubs and trees, and from cellulose such as hemp which has been processed according to a proprietary method. When equipment becomes available other products such as bricks for walls, insulating panels, roof structural panels, spray on insulation, insulation batts, and so on.

As agricultural products, these will enhance life on farms and life everywhere. The products can be produced very efficiently with little cost to the environment. Building with site manufactured material conserves cash on farms and in rural areas which might otherwise be spent off farms for building materials and creates more income during times of no income. The speed with which buildings may be erected and renovated using these materials increases the productivity of the farm and livestock operations and its attractive in renovation and construction.

The materials are suitable for insulating structures for solar renovations and for constructing new structures. Incorporating mineral earth, recycled content, and high cellulose plants such as hemp, flax straw, various weed plants, willows and shrubs, products may be manufactured on the farm by the farmers in cooperation with technical direction and marketing provided by the proposed corporations. These products will serve for buildings and agricultural use on farms as well as for renovation and construction in the larger marketplace.

Proceeds from the sale of products will diversify the farm. Farmers can invest in themselves while creating a new building product. Proceeds from sales will finance product development and marketing. Product development will occur in the initial staged of producing the materials and increased production will fund improvements and variations of products with increased value added. Initial investments from farmers will develop and transfer the technology to the farms participating in this project. Each farm will be able to produce products, and have the technology for their own use on the farm. The pooled royalties from units sold to other farms and sold commercially will fund product development and marketing.


Business Plan

The materials are suitable for insulating structures for solar renovations and for constructing new structures. Incorporating mineral earth, recycled content, and high cellulose plants such as hemp, flax straw, various weed plants, willows and shrubs, products may be manufactured on the farm by the farmers in cooperation with technical direction and marketing provided by the proposed corporations. These products will serve for buildings and agricultural use on farms as well as for renovation and construction in the larger marketplace.

Proceeds from the sale of products will diversify the farm. Farmers can invest in themselves while creating a new building product. Proceeds from sales will finance product development and marketing. Product development will occur in the initial staged of producing the materials and increased production will fund improvements and variations of products with increased value added. Initial investments from farmers will develop and transfer the technology to the farms participating in this project. Each farm will be able to produce products, and have the technology for their own use on the farm. The pooled royalties from units sold to other farms and sold commercially will fund pr
This information is maintained by: Dr. Stan Blade

Genetic modification and building

What the genetic engineering biotechnology industry could offer the building trade.

Genetically Modified foods are currently the target of many public debates, but can these debates have any relevance for the construction industry?

Since mankind moved out of caves plants have provided for most of our building material.
Any plant, or animal for that matter, may be subject to genetic modification.
Today the construction industry still relies on timber frames, joists, shuttering, flooring, screens around construction sites, textiles and paper, stairs, cupboards, even the architect's plans and the builder's tea.

In particular buildings depend on a ready source of suitable timber. Traditionally builders used whatever material was locally available. Local woodland was managed to meet the local demand. Coppiced willows, hazel, and ash provided light frameworks and screens. Within the coppice wood standard trees were allowed to grow to maturity - forty 100 year old oaks would be needed to build a large barn or house [2].

These trees, although managed, naturally adapted to colonise Britain as the last ice age retreated. And these trees also came with symbiotic bacteria and fungi, animals, birds and pollinating insects that helped them to establish new colonies and flourish. But most English woodland disappeared under the plough to provide for a quicker profit from sheep and wheat.
When subsidies were given to plant trees in the UK many of the symbiotic organisms had been lost. Forestry plantations are inoculated with specific fungi, but they still need to be sprayed to control pests and disease. Much of our timber now is imported, we are dependent on the global economy to provide our requirements.

Because of the long timescales involved in growing trees very little plant breeding has been carried out on them. It is also difficult to control tree pollination in order to select characteristics from chosen parents, partly because of the size of the mature plant. Today's oak would be instantly recognised by our Celtic ancestors, but wheat, and the way it is grown, has changed totally.

Genetic modification allows the bioengineer to design a tree from scratch to give the properties required, and avoid all these problems of breeding. What if the insect repellent characteristics of the Indian Neem tree were put into larch? The timber might not need any preservative treatment, but the carpenter might need protective clothing to work with it, and it might affect pets and fish tanks.
This example is similar to plant breeding in that larch and neem could be similar enough genetically to interbreed if they lived side-by-side. If the required properties were found in a totally different species, perhaps some form of anti-freeze in arctic fish, and put in a deciduous tree, like oak, to extend their growing season, this is known as transgenic modification.

Although the initial design of the new plant can be quick it would take two or three life-times to identify all the effects on its growing and building environments.
The complex relationship of symbiotic organisms, pests, disease and predators that support and are supported by a tree is as yet poorly understood.

And what if a small trial takes place? The pollen from many trees is very light and travels a long way, the modified gene can soon cross-breed with "native" plants.
In order to protect their investment Bioengineering companies patent specific genes, these are not "new" genes but simply ones that they have identified. This means that they own the basic plant or animal material; they control the production.

Current GM food crops are designed for large field systems that give a quick return on investment and make no allowance for any timber crop. This method of farming, requiring lots of irrigation, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides, and degrades the land such that it becomes impossible to grow trees as a complete environment there again for a long time; it would be like the re-colonisation after the ice age. Athough individual timber crops, eg willow, may well thrive on the nitrate rich soil. An example of needing to establish a complete environment occurred in Thetford forest where the land had previously had lime applied for agriculture. This alkalinity favours the spores of Heterobasidion annosum (Fomes) over beneficial fungi such as Peniophora gigantea. Fomes can result in considerable loss of value of commercial conifers due to rot or stain in timber.
How long can we rely on the global economy to supply our timber requirements?

The Soil Association Woodmark certificate [3], is one way of helping sustain our supply of raw material in conjunction with organisations such as the World Land Trust [4]. Consumers are placing a value on builders that can demonstrate an environmental awareness through such schemes [1].
Other faster growing plants can be used to meet some of our timber requirements.
Trials are currently underway in Europe and East Anglia using hemp as a building material.
In France a company called Isochanvre has built more than 250 houses out of a concrete substitute made from hemp chips mixed with concrete and lime. The material weighs only a seventh as much as concrete, but is a far better insulator. A 1,300 square-foot home can be built for less than £10,000 [6].

The reaction of consumers to GM foods and the demand for organic produce shows how future demand for environmentally friendly and healthy building materials may grow. The building industry has nothing to gain in the short term from biotechnology, but it can retain consumers' confidence, and avoid the problems of global monopoly suppliers, when it embraces recognised traditional and environmental standards.


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