Poured Earth

Research into Poured Earth Concrete (PEC) has been an active area of research at AVEI since 2011. PEC is presently underutilized, and has great potential for poured foundations, walls, slabs and beams, and roads. The research conducted at AVEI has centered around deriving PEC mixes that achieve desired flow characteristics, while maintaining dry and wet strength, low water absorption, and low shrinkage. Deriving mixes appropriate to local soils, the necessary testing and finalization of formulations, with additions of plasticizers, and waterproofing agents, have been explored.

AVEI welcomes the opportunity to continue research in PEC, with interested parties, whether students or professionals. Please inquire of AVEI if you would like additional information, and/or to explore the feasibility of continuing this research here at AVEI or at your site.

PEC Research (2011):
Albéric Le Huédé, of Université de Technologie, Compiegne, conducted the initial PEC trials, while developing the sample sizes and test protocols necessary for the evaluation of PEC as a viable technology.

PEC Research (2012):
Jérôme Cochet, of INSA, Lyon, focused his research on the elaboration of a gradation tool, which helped determining the optimum grain size of various aggregates. He cast the first PEC wall, suing his optimum mix ratio.

PEC Research (2013):
Clémentine Browne, of Université de Technologie. Compiegne, conducted fundamental research into PEC formulations in search of high compressive strength (dry and wet), low shrinkage, low water absorption, while still being plastic enough to easily flow. Numerous plasticizers were evaluated, as well as [soil: aggregate: cement] ratios, plus evaluating admixtures that included lime, alum, and fibers. She conducted also research on poured earth concrete beam, reinforced with either steel or bamboo.

PEC Research (2014):
As a follow up to Clémentine’s research, Théo Vinceslas and Léo Boulicot, of Polytech Montpellier and Polytech Nantes, France, respectively, sought to increase the proportion of earth within the PEC matrix to 50%, while meeting the following performance specifications: 7 MPa dry strength, 4 MPa wet strength, <10% water absorption, and < 0.1% shrinkage. Théo and Léo conducted extensive research in order to evaluate the effect of additives, soils, and aggregate sizes, in order to achieve these performance criteria.

PEC with Recycled Construction Material (2015):
The construction industry in India is reportedly generating on average 50 kg of waste per square meter of habitation. Incorporating aggregate and concrete waste, minimally processed into suitably sized aggravates for use in PEC construction was researched. Taru Joshi, a graduate student from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and recipient of a Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship, which helped fund this work, conducted a series of tests, adding significantly to the world body of knowledge in this area. Taru’s work was a further exploration of PEC, following upon the results of initial research conducted at AVEI in 2014 by Théo Vinceslas and Léo Boulicot.

PEC Roads (2014 – 2015):
AVEI has been involved with roads using CSEB, SRE, and now PEC construction methods. After PEC road pilot projects at AVEI had been successfully completed, a pilot-scale project of 210 m2 extent at the Auroville Visitor Center was taken on. This road project included not only the PEC roadbed, but also the cast-in-place curbs. An exhaustive and highly detailed report by Satprem details every detail of road construction using PEC, adding greatly to the world body of knowledge in this area.

PEC Foundations and Walls (2015 – 2017):
AVEI has been involved with the formulation of mixes ratios for casting walls with the maximum percentage of earth, while maintaining compressive crushing strength of 7 MPa dry and 4 MPa wet. Mix ratios for foundations aimed at simplifying ratios for easier workability on site. A calculation tool has been elaborated and is used to determine accurately the mix composition, according to the desired percentages of components.

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