The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Monday, 01 April 2019 01:00cat

Ancient building material is re-engineered

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The CobBauge Project The CobBauge Project

According to British and French scientists, cob, an ancient building material, can be re-produced with current standards in order to be utilized for structural facilities. 

Buildings made of cob have survived thought the years as it is a very durable material. Researchers are now trying to produce a material based on cod with increased thermal insulation. The project is led by Steve Goodhew, professor at the University of Plymouth.

The new material is called CobBauge (a name that combines English and French words). 

The first part of the project which will finish in the end of March, 2019, includes research on how to increase cob's ability to trap heat inside structures. To achieve this, researchers have used 2 grades of cob: A lightweight version with good insulating properties and a stronger version to increase the material's total strength.

"What we're doing is taking a robust vernacular material and bringing it right up-to-date. While what we have come up with is without a doubt a modern interpretation of cob, we hope it will satisfy both the traditionalists, and those looking for a hi-tech, energy-efficient material. As a result of this research, we can say there is no reason why cob cannot be used to build modern houses that meet the latest standards," Goodhew said.

According to the European Union, CobBauge can significantly reduce the demand for heating and cooling of buildings, a fact that is important to meet the climate goals Europe wishes to achieve. Moreover, the production and usage of cob will greatly reduce CO2 emissions and construction waste in comparison with traditional masonry materials.

The team's next target is to build one or more structures with this material to test its performance in real scale. "Here we'll be studying real CobBauge buildings, subject to real environmental conditions over a prolonged period to investigate in-situ thermal performance, humidity, particulates, the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and related energy use," researcher Jim Carfrae, stated.



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