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Spearhead Network for Innovative,

Clean and Safe Cement

and Concrete Technologies

Cement and Concrete for Africa


17th August 2011

BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research
and Testing

Berlin, Germany
Editorial information
Cement and Concrete for Africa
Published by
BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing
Unter den Eichen 87
12205 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 30 8104-0
Fax: +49 30 8112039
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Copyright © 2011 by
BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing
ISBN 978-3-9814281-4-8

The SPIN Project 5

N. S. Msinjili, W. Schmidt, H.- C. Kühne

Sustainable Concrete for Developing Countries 10

B. Piscaer

State of the Cement and Steel Industry in Uganda 15

R. Nassingwa, N. M. Nangoku

Use of Pozzolans as a Binder in the Building Materilas Industry in Uganda 23

W. Balu-Tabaaro

Inorganic Binder Systems for Innovative Panel Technology in East Africa –

Possible Ways to Produce Building Materials from Local Raw Materials 32
G. J. G. Gluth, W. Z. Taffese, G. S. Kumaran, H. C. Uzoegbo, H.-C. Kühne

Challenges of the African Environmental Conditions for Concrete Mixture Composition 37

W. Schmidt

From Prescriptive Towards Performance-based Durability Design of Concrete 50

D. Bjegovic, I. S. Oslakovic, Marijana Serdar

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology 59

J. K. Makunza

Low-Cost Shell Structures: Thermal Loading 74

M. Gohnert


The SPIN Project

N. S. Msinjili, W. Schmidt, H.- C. Kühne
BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Germany

1. Introduction
Globally, cement and concrete experts are at the cutting-edge to sustainable, green, healthy but
nonetheless high-performance concrete. In the present age, concrete is not yet well established in
Africa, which offers the unique opportunity to build up a cement and concrete market based on the
highest available state of technology. As this industry needs high level expertise, a central issue in
implementation of skilled technology is cross-linking research institutions and laboratories. It should
not be neglected that concrete is a product with comparably low transport ranges, which means
that an improved concrete market will mainly support the local economy without exceeding finan-
cial drains to the international market, thus fostering the fight against poverty, which is an urgent
need in most African countries.
The SPIN project highlights recent developments in the field of cement and concrete research with
impact on the local and global economy. Challenges, future developments and opportunities for the
African construction industry are in the focus.
The SPIN project is funded by the European Commission (EC) and supported by the African, Carib-
bean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States under the project body of the ACP Science and Technology
Programme. SPIN is acronym for “Spearhead network for Innovative, Clean and Safe Cement and
Concrete Technologies”. The project aims to cross-link experts with industry and policy making
bodies, aiming to establish sustainable cement and concrete construction in Africa.

2. The Network
The SPIN network consists of a group of scientists, researchers and consultants from seven African
countries and three European countries involved in different fields of engineering such as cement
chemistry, structural engineering, geology engineering, environmental engineering and construc-

Figure 1.0: Participants to the SPIN kick-off meeting (left) and the SPIN Consortium in Kigali (right)

Cement and Concrete for Africa

tion materials. The first idea of the project network was established in Spain 2007, it then grew over
the years to form a large consortium consisting of the institutions shown in table 1.

The SPIN project’s main objective is to increase the existing network by involving other European
and African institutions and public bodies who are in the interest of sustainable development for
concrete construction.

Table 1: SPIN Consortium

Institution City, Country

BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and
Berlin, Germany
University of Witwatersrand,
Johannesburg, South Africa
Advanced Cement Training and Projects cc
University of Burundi Bujumbura, Burundi
Kigali Institute of Science and Technology Kigali, Rwanda
University of Dar es Salaam Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Department for Geological Survey and Mines Entebbe, Uganda
University of Lubumbashi Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo
Eduardo Mondlane University Maputo, Mozambique
Eindhoven Technical University Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Institut IGH d.d. Zagreb, Croatia

3. The Action
SPIN aims to target certain groups such as educational organisations, research institutions, small
and medium scale enterprises and members of the general public to educate and implement prop-
er working conditions when dealing with concrete construction and cement as a material. It aims at
implementing rules for accident prevention during the application of concrete.

The tasks of the SPIN Project will base on the following items:
• Networking between European and African Research Institutions
It is an undisputed fact that a number of cement and concrete research institutions or industries
in Africa are not integrated in international research and standardisation in the field of cement
and concrete technology. There is little or no information about cement and concrete for Africa
as most of the standards used are based on European conditions.
SPIN has targeted various institutions in Africa to exchange information about worldwide devel-
opment of cement and concrete while focusing on sustainable development for Africa. The con-
sortium mentioned in table 1 has visited institutions in East and Southern Africa such as Rwanda,
Burundi, Tanzania and Mozambique to give lectures and presentations to students, staff and the
public about experiences and innovative technology with cement and concrete.


Figure 2.0: Networking in Kigali

Figure 2.1: Lectures to students

• Fostering of Construction Technology

Cement is the most widely used material in the world after water. The field of cement and concrete
technology is rapidly growing especially in the production of ‘green’ cement. It is important to
have a reduction of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere – as currently cement manufacturing proc-
ess produces 5 % of the world’s CO2 emissions [1]. This CO2 reduction technology is in the high-
est effect being implemented in the developed countries using various scientific solutions.
There are a number of other relevant scientific solutions that can be accessible for the African
construction sector by making use of the resources locally available, however, lack of knowledge
and expertise is the major constraint. SPIN will foster the knowledge transfer by developing
strategies for proper construction technology taking into consideration the economically cost-
effective and ecological aspects.

• Strengthening the Cement and Concrete Industry in East and Central Africa
Cement technology emerged late in the 18th century and continued to mature throughout the 19th
and 20th centuries in Europe, Japan, North America and other developed nations with new ma-
terials and methods of preparation. This technology developed and spread rather slowly, in order
to meet new construction needs. Some of these needs included; military fortifications, bridges,
dams, piers, tunnels and other vital infrastructure [2].
Cement technology is by far less developed in the eastern and central regions of Africa com-
pared to Europe – production costs being a contributing factor to development, which leads to
high cement prices. In addition to high cement prices in Africa, the demand as well is higher than
production (as shown in figure 3), therefore cement needs to be imported from Asia – mainly
China, India and Pakistan. South Africa shows a significant development of cement and con-
crete technology with a great number of cement and ready-mix concrete plants, however, lack
of infrastructure development still exists in many areas.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Figure 3.0: Cement demand and production in Africa [3]

• Training of Experts in Relevant Multidisciplinary Fields

In most developing countries, there is a lack of advanced technology in researching about ce-
ment and concrete. SPIN will offer such opportunities for African researchers and scientists from
table 1 to get expert consulting on modern cement and concrete technology which can be im-
plemented in the respective countries. The opportunities will involve work placements in the
developed laboratory institutions, including field training and workshops.

• Generation of a Handbook for Clean and Safe Concrete Technology

The regular standards adopted for concrete construction in Africa are European standards which
realistically does not favour the specific climatic and geographical conditions of Africa.
The SPIN consortium will generate a handbook that will include guidelines for enhancing cement
and concrete technology in Africa with relative consideration of the specific African boundary

4. The Result
The socio-economic components for a more sustainable development in Africa are viewed to be
the most challenging taking into consideration the impact of the construction industry on the envi-
ronment which is probably more important in developing countries than it is in developed countries.
This is due to the fact that the developing countries are virtually still under construction and that
they have a relatively low degree of industrialisation, making the construction industry one of the
biggest factors impacting on the environment. The required challenge is to find new approaches to
development capable of preventing environmental degradation and excessive social costs, rather
than focusing on palliative measures.
It is a necessary requirement to have an initial investment in order to support the development and
production of appropriate technologies and building materials, however, these are costs that can
later be recovered. Such costs can be substantially reduced if the construction sector works to-
gether to share the responsibilities with the government, universities and other private sector in
related industries and institutions.
In summary, with proper information and dissemination of knowledge, SPIN aims to help the public
become more aware of the benefits that such practices represent for them and the environment. In
many cases the issue is not the lack of resources, but the lack of coordination to manage them in a
more efficient way. SPIN aims to be the start of future networks between Africa and Europe. The
involved institutions mentioned in table 1 and the increased network will be called ‘Spearhead In-


5. References
[1] Green Cement is Carbon Neutral, Sequesters CO2 from Power Plants. http://cleantechnica.
[2] P J Krumnacher. Lime and Cement Technology: Transition from Traditional to Standardized
Treatment Methods.
[3] http://www.africa-confidential.com/news

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Sustainable Concrete for Developing Countries

B. Piscaer
UNIVERDE, The Netherlands

1. Introduction
For the good order, concrete is made out of aggregates such as sand and gravel, the binder mostly
called cement, water and often chemical admixtures. Depending on the mix design consistency or
workability can be earth moist to highly fluid self compacting, develop low to very high strength and
range in natural colors from dark grey to white. Mortars is basically concrete made without coarse
Concrete is the most used but also the most abused construction material in the world. Thru the use
of the key ingredient, Portland Cement, over 2.6 Billion tons of CO2 are emitted every year and this
figure is increasing at an alarming rate. 15 Billion tons of raw materials are needed per year for con-
crete aggregates and cement making. While well build constructions in concrete can last almost
2000 years such as the Pantheon in Rome, many poor applications have demonstrated to last less
then 20 years.
What is the difference between an earthquake in Chili of 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chili that killed
around 480 people while a 7.1 earthquake in Haiti killed between 100.000 and 300.000 people? The
difference is poor application of mainly concrete. While big infra-structure projects such as a hydro
dam, special bridge or port extension will draw the involvement of global operating engineering com-
panies who master a better educated knowledge of concrete as a high tech product, it is of the inter-
est of market dominant suppliers to continue the application of concrete as a commodity product.
The title in the brochure is “Sustainable Concrete FOR Developing Nations”, my presentation is “Sus-
tainable Concrete AND Developing Nations”. The shortcomings and objectives are the same in all
countries but the road to achieve it is more complex in developing countries. My personal working
experience in the Caribbean countries and those of respected colleges with experience in the Pa-
cific and Africa has motivated me to present this paper at the occasion of the SPIN Workshop in
Berlin. Attention will be given not to special concrete for special purpose but regular day to day con-
crete for regular use that effects the purse of the consumer. The below is valid for ALL concrete in all
countries, it is presented with the obligation to combine millennium with sustainability objectives,
poverty with CO2 reduction. The big difference is that the personal buying power of a bag of cement
is very different in Berlin then in Burkina Faso. While the cost of concrete materials in a precast plant
in the Netherlands may be only 1/6th of the total cost of a piece, in developing countries it will be well
over half.
The other big difference is that industrial by-products that are Portland cement replacing are not
easily available in developing countries and those that are from agricultural origin need an industrial
Concrete for developing countries co-insides with a European Eco-Innovation project SUSTCON
EPV that I initiated and advise to. It addresses the sustainability thus also social aspects of concrete
based on its performance, not on outdated prescriptive aspects that have been imposed by market
dominant forces. The below is a combination of previous technical sales market development to the
Caribbean cement producers for a German multi national and recent gained knowledge working on
sustainable concrete.
As with the fixed telephone lines, that are not necessary anymore in developing nations since the
mobile phones are available, let us leap frog now towards sustainable concrete. Industrialized coun-
tries have to free themselves from many bad habits, changing the course of a super tanker. Develop-
ing countries should not copy fixed lines but jump towards sustainability faster, changing the course
of a sailing boat.

Sustainable Concrete for Developing Countries

2. Technical aspects
2.1 Particle Size Engineering
Some suppliers like to make you believe but strength of concrete does not only come from cement
that hardens. The mechanical packing of all ingredients of all sizes, from the coarse aggregates to
the fine sand and especially the powders play an important role. Adhesion of all particles is another
aspect of binding that will not be dealt with here.
Adding in a proper way so-called inert fines will reduce and not increase the use of expensive Port-
land cement. A multi-fractional packing of many different sized aggregates is possible, also in a
non-industrialized setting by using simple affordable hand sieves or classifiers from re-bars as seen
recently in Portugal. Since labor cost are inferior to material cost a lot of attention should be given
to the preparation of many more different fractions then being done in the developing countries
where time is of more essence. Using at least 3 fractions of sand and 2 for gravel is not increasing
but decreasing the cost. I am confident that big industrial suppliers will assist in developing easy
functioning equipment for developing nations.
Action: Simple demonstration of packing in a glass can change the awareness of the importance
of Particle Size Engineering followed by special education.
Contact with leading classifier equipment producer for hand operated equipment.

2.2 Portland Cement

Cement is all over the world the most expensive ingredient in concrete having an environmental
impact 2,5 times bigger then the airlines. One ton Portland cement is one ton CO2 and needs 1,6
tons of raw materials. In several countries more then half of the hard earned hard currency is used
to buy fuel for the cement plant. So we have to be very careful with the precious product made by
the cement producer. If the cement producers understand that they can make more money with
less volume of a higher quality cement, we will get their cooperation in pursuing one general and
global objective, reduce the Portland clinker content of concrete.
It is better to be clear and honest in the interest of the well being of the consumer and the intelligent
suppliers. The average cement industry is in general not interested in supplying a product that is
very steady in quality so that you will use less of it. Technical sales, telling the user that he is better
off using a more expensive product of which less is needed in concrete, is hardly practiced in this
field, everywhere, so also in developing countries. The more the products varies, the more you will
need to reach the minimum standard. Variation in the so-called water demand of cement is com-
mon everywhere but especially in countries where their monopolistic position is obvious such as
developing countries, it is disastrous for fighting poverty. I was present in Jamaica when the whole
island that depends on one cement plant, could not make good concrete anymore.
Action: Popularize the “ball in bowl method” by which water demand of powders can cheaply and
easily be verified without expensive laser de-fraction equipment. If variations are noted, a report
with the cement supplier and an independent verification organization will discover the truth about
changing qualities of the Portland cement.

2.3 Supplementary Cementing Materials (SCM’s)

Especially in Europe the use of Portland cement replacement materials is on a good track of devel-
opment and will be accelerated by our European Eco-Innovation projects on which we will report in
November 2011.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

SCM’s can be separated in

– those recognized by the European cement producers to make so-called blended cements, such
as ground granulated blast furnace slag, industrial and natural puzzolans, ground calcium car-
bonates, oil shale ash and silica fume.
– those not recognized but scientifically sound SCM’s such as Reactive Rice Husk Ash, Activated
Paper Recycling Minerals, Sugar Cane Ash etc.
The problems with SCM’s are
– Common knowledge of all the different types and their particular technological and aesthetic
– Availabilities that depends on the natural and industrial resources that varies from country to
– Regulations that even in Europe vary from country to country in the freedom of use but which
has nothing to do with technology.
I was personally very encouraged by the popular use of not that easy to use chalk powder in Ja-
maica where people discovered that it made the concrete much stronger with less Portland ce-
Action: Inform the new of concrete producers of the possibilities of SMC’s.
Assist in an industrialized approach in transforming agricultural by-products such as Rice Husk and
Sugar Cane Bagasse into reliable binders.

2.4 Admixtures
It is shocking to see so little use of chemical admixtures in developing countries. Especially these
water and cement reducing plus often set-time retarding products can contribute to a much better
knowledge of concrete and in many cases lower costs. The problem lies probably again in general
knowledge and in complicated technical sales demanding technical sales distribution.
Action: Check presence in countries of concrete admixture distributions with the knowledge that
the cement companies might use grinding aids often from the same suppliers as concrete admix-

2.5 Mixing Equipment

A lot can be gained in better mixing. Most common is the “1, 2, 3” method, meaning one shovel of
cement, two shovels of sand and 3 of gravel, then mix water. If you are lucky, this is done on a hard
plastic plate so no clay gets in. It should be clear that this mixing causes a lot of waste of expensive
cement as one can notice about poor total hydration.
The next method is, as you see also all over Europe on small sites, are poor performing free fall
mixers instead of more efficient radial pan mixers.
Realizing that ready mix companies are only located near cities and are often still poorly equiped
dry mixing plants, I wonder if there is a future for so-called volumetric mobile mixers you see a lot
of in remote area’s in North America. A multi fraction compartment mobile mixer capable of high
intensity mixing should have a future in sustainable concrete.
Action: Demonstrate the difference in qualities of mixing techniques in a practical way and propose
and develop better but practical equipment.

Sustainable Concrete for Developing Countries

2.6 Quality Control

Independent verification of incoming and outgoing products should become part of the techno-
logical framework of a developing country that can choose from worlds best sustainable concrete
practice and leapfrog by not making the same mistakes the industrialized countries keep on do-
Action: Investigate the concrete competence per country and means of QC.

3. Social Aspects
3.1 The corporate approach.
Many multi national companies have a Corporate Social Responsibility policy. Many global operat-
ing cement companies and construction chemical companies are members of the World Business
Council for Sustainable Development based in Geneva. It is possible to make them accountable for
their policy in developing countries in particular.
Action: The ACP should draft a chart for the improved use of the most used and most abused
construction material in the world, concrete, and make at least the members of the WBCSD ac-

3.2 Education
Also in developed countries the education on concrete is poor but the effect of this on the daily lives
is very different. Richer companies in Europe will pay for additional education after regular schools
and hire specialist that take care of high volumes of concrete in ready mix plants. Since cement is
also here the most expensive ingredient, there is a strong motivation for training.
Action: The European organization for vocational education, CEDEFOP, and again the ACP should
look into the possibilities of addressing school partnerships between European and ACP countries.
The formula of train-work-vacations should be considered and ideas for this have been considered
in countries that are very attractive for young Europeans.

3.3 Verification
Independent verification of incoming and outgoing products, combined with general help on con-
crete technology, should become a part of the Corporate Social Responsibility of institutes. It is
possible that the BAM in Berlin can become a world leader in such new order. For institutes control-
ling 5 grams of questionable binder powder send by mail from different parts of the world or regular
Skype training sessions will not be a heavy burden.

3.4 Pricing
Although the purchasing power in developing countries is in no comparison dramatically lower then
that in economically developed nations, the price of cement even per ton is often more expensive
as we have seen between the US and Mexico. When due to a shortage in 2006 app. 30 million tons
were imported in the US from overseas, the Mexicans were not allowed to export facing dumping
charges since the price in Mexico was still higher then at the peak in the US! For a recent hydro dam
in Panama a more expensive better performing cement from the US was imported since the poor
quality of the cement made in Panama by 2 companies demands more volume.
Action: A price study in the ACP countries would provide a global view of the situation and report
anomalies and stimulate fair trade.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

4. Conclusion
Poverty and Intelligence are in no relation! Poverty and Education plus dominant market positions
are! Countries with the lowest difference between income have the highest economical strength.
Several millennium objectives, poverty and environmental impact reduction, capacity building can
all be integrated in the pursuit to transform the most used construction product, concrete, into the
most sustainable construction product world-wide when used in the right manner in the right
Other then financial objectives should play a role in organizing this. On behalf of SUSTCON EPV
and their Eco-Innovative concrete partners I invite the best APC people to dialogue and actions.

State of the Cement and Steel Industry in Uganda

State of the Cement and Steel Industry in Uganda

Nassingwa Ruth 1 and Nangoku Mumoita Naomi 2
Senior Laboratory Technician, Geological Survey and Mines Department, Uganda
Mineral Processor, Geological Survey and Mines Department, Uganda

The use of cement and steel has been in existence right from the time before independence though
on a small scale since the demand was very low at that time. However, during the time of the con-
struction of Owen Falls Dam, the demand of the cement and steel products increased. This led to
the establishment of the first cement factory in 1954 in the eastern part of the country. However,
these industries suffered severe set backs from 1970-1985 during the dictatorship era in Uganda.
The operation of the industries almost came to a stand still since the environment was not condu-
cive for sustaining them.
From 1986 the production started picking up as the industries were revamped with the help of the
government and other entrepreneurs. Currently, the demand of high quality cement is high due to
the booming construction industry that requires specific quality and strength of cement. This has
made entrepreneurs to import high quality cement from other countries like Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan
and Dubai among others since the volumes on the local market can’t meet the demand. On the
other hand, there is an increased number of fabricators in Uganda and this has increased the de-
mand of Steel. However, a lot of emphasis is required in the research and development at enterprise
level to enhance productivity, product diversification and capacity utilization. For quality related is-
sues, a Materials laboratory was set up near Kampala city to boost smaller ones localized at fac-
tory levels. Therefore, there is need for exploitation of raw materials and development of new tech-
nologies that will enhance production of high quality products in Uganda.
Key words: cement and steel, concrete, housing strategies, environment and laboratories.

1. Introduction
The cement and steel industries have played a major role in the national development due to their
importance and need in the construction industry. Cement and steel are the most actively traded
commodities in any developing country where infrastructure is lacking and has to be put up. From
the time these industries were established in Uganda, there has been a noticeable change in the
country’s infrastruture.
Uganda has two cement factories; one located in the eastern part of the country over 200km east
of the capital Kampala called Tororo cement limited and the other to the west about 500 km away
near Kasese town called Hima Cement Industries. On the other hand, the steel industry is donned
with over ten companies operating steel mills in Uganda and they are widely spread in the country.
The steel industry has registered great success as shown by the rate at which steel mills have been
established. From 1960 to 1988, there were only two companies i.e. the East African steel rolling
which is the oldest and the steel rolling mill both established in the East at Jinja. Later on BM tech-
nical services was set up in the west at Mbarara. From 2002, several other companies have been
set majorly near Kampala city. This is ascribed to the increased number of fabricators who make
various items like doors, windows and smaller machinery at lower prices and also the increased
infrastructure development in Uganda.
This current sudden increase in infrastructure development, as a result of the improved economic
climate by the current government requires large amounts of cement and steel of high quality which
needs to be addressed.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

2. Cement Production in Uganda

2.1 Cement Factories
There are two cement factories in Uganda and these include;

2.1.1 Tororo Cement Limited

This is the largest cement producing company in Uganda. It is located in the Eastern part of the
country and it was established in 1954. Its development was due to the increased demand of ce-
ment for the construction of the Owen Falls Dam in Jinja.
The company produces both cement and steel products. For cement, the company used to pro-
duce two types; Ordinary Portland cement and Portland pozzolana cement but for the last five
years, it has been producing only Portland Pozzolana cement. This was due to the fact that the cost
of production of Ordinary Portland cement was high and he retturns were very low. Recently the
company installed a new cement grinding mill and rotary packers with modern state of art of tech-
nology. This has enabled the company to expand its cement manufacturing capacity from 692,828
to 919,229 metric tons in 2007 and 2010 respectively.
And for steel, the company produces a wide range of products from barbed wires, corrugate iron
sheets to construction steel in all types.
The cement and other products from Tororo cement limited expert are exported to the neighbour-
ing countries like Rwanda, DRC and Southern Sudan among others.

2.1.2 Hima Cement Industries

This is the other cement producing factory in Uganda. It is a subsidiary company of Bambuli Ce-
ment Ltd of Kenya and a member of the French grant Lafarge Group.
It was established in 1967 but Bambuli acquired a significant state in Hima cement ltd in 1999.
The company produced about 365,000 tons per year of cement until they acquired necessary ap-
proval to launch the construction of a new production line in 2006. Currently it produces about
780,000Metric tons about double its former production. It supplies the Ugandan market especially
in western Uganda and also in the regional market to Rwanda, southern Sudan, eastern Congo and
Burundi. In Uganda, for a plant to be permitted to produce cement, it must have enough reserves
of limestone that can sustain the plant for about 25 years. It for this purpose that Hima cement ac-
quired dura limestone to sustain his operation for the next 30 years.

2.2 Types of Cement

In Uganda, there are mainly two types of cement that are manufactured and these include:
– Ordinary Portland cement
– Portland pozzolana cement

2.2.1 Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC)

The basic raw materials for OPC are clay and limestone. After these materials are quarried they are
ground and intermixed. The mixture is burnt in a kiln under extreme temperatures about 1450-
16000 °C.
Once it leaves the kiln, the cement is ground and mixed with 4-7 gypsum which helps to inhabit
settling while cement in being worked.
To generate and maintain the required kiln temperature, fuel has to be used whichover the years has
seen its prices increase. This increased fuel price has led to an extra cost in the production of OPC
which has made it more expensive than other types. Due to the extra cost in production, the manu-
facturers have abandoned its production.

State of the Cement and Steel Industry in Uganda

2.2.2 Portland Pozzolans Cement (PPC)

Pozzolana are materials which posses little or no hydraulic value which can only be when finely di-
vided and in the present of moisture. In this state they can chemically react with alkalis. Pozzolanas
can either be natural or of industrial origin.
The natural pozzolanas are often related to volcanic activities and typical materials are volcanic ash
and pumicite. Pozzolana are usually introduced in the mix during alkaline activation.A particular
process of alkali activation of pozzolana is the mixing of slag with ordinary portland cement where-
by the slag is activated due to the solubility of calcium hydroxide resulting from the reaction of
portland cement
This type of cement is widely available in Uganda since its cost of production is much cheaper as
the raw materials are readily available at cheaper rates.

2.3 Cement Raw Materials

The availability of cement as a building material largely depends upon the availability of its raw ma-
terials. The two types of cement use different types of raw materials for their manufacture.
This type of Ordinary Portland cement requires;
– Limestone
– Clay and mudstone
– Gypsum
The raw materials for limestone are of varying geological ages and widely distributed in the country
and these include;
Carbonatites, marble, travertines, tufas, lake limestone and secondary limestone.
In areas where suitable sedimentary deposits are scarce, metaphorphic deposits and carbonatites
can be used for cement production. According to existing literature, the remaining materials of suf-
ficient quantity for major cement plant are the marbles and carbonatities.
Resources of clay and mudstone suitable for cement production do exist in several areas country
wide. Clay and mudstone are very essential in the cement production as they are the main source
of silica, alumina and iron oxide. Clay and mudstone are readily available in Uganda and are of a low
There are few deposits of gypsum and there are dominate in the western part of the country. The
deposits occur within the rifts sediments at Kibuku, Muhokya, Kanyantete and at lake Mburo. More
exploration work is required at Lake Mburo as the gypsum deposits are expected to extend in the
near by valleys. Due to the few deposits of gypsum, it is imported from Kenya, Egypt and Oman.
Portland Pozzolana cement requires;
– clinker
– pozzolana materials
– gypsum
The clinker is mainly imported from Kenya while pozzolana are obtained form Uganda. The poz-
zolanas used are of natural occurrence as they are products of volcanism. These natural poz-
zolanas exist in the eastern and the north eastern part of the country.
Carbonatites lava and tufas exist in the western and southern parts of Uganda.
Due to the existence of large volumes of pozzolanas in Uganda which are cheap, Portaland Poz-
zolana cement is the largely produced cement in Uganda.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

2.4 Cement Market

The demand for cement in Uganda currently has out stripped its supply and this is as a result of
demographic growth, urbanization and economic growth. The demand of cement in Uganda has
drastically increased over the years. The annual growth is about 5-6 % currently compared to the
3-4 % from 1980-1990.
The total output of the two cement factories is 1,162,241 metric tons while the imported cement ac-
counts for 566,082 Metric tons. 390,476 Metric tones are exported into regional market (UBOS
2010). Although the demand of cement is said to over ridden the production, the consumption rate
is significantly low at only 35 kg per capita per year. This is reflected in the large number of people
still living in unsafe shelters that are found in both urban and rural areas. This is because of the
skyrocketing prices of cement which are relatively high for an ordinary man for a product that is
manufactured within the country and whose raw materials are locally sourced. Despite the low con-
sumption, prospects are very good with the strong demographic growth.

2.5 Use of Cement

Cement is basically used for the construction purposes in Uganda. Cement can be used;
– as a binder in the erection of walls of either fired clay bricks or concrete blocks.
– for trowel finish for both walls and floors.
– in concrete making
Concrete has become the most popular and widely used construction material in the World. In
Uganda, concrete is prepared and fabricated in all sorts of conceivable shapes and structural sys-
tem in the realms of infrastructure, habitation, transportation, work and play. The common products
– concrete blocks in different sizes for house and wall construction
– Facing bricks for decoration purposed of walls and adding strength to the walls
– Pavers
– Roofing tiles

Raw Materials for the Manufacture of Concrete

• Cement
It should be of high quality and strength to enhance the durability of the product. Most concrete
industries in Uganda use Power Plus and Power max from Hima cement while others use Toro-
ro’s Portland Pozzolana. These industries import cement from Kenya and Dubai when its out of
stock in Uganda.
• Aggregates
Granite is the rock that is quarried for this purpose. This rock is found in various part of the coun-
• Sand
For concrete making, lake sand is prepared since it is usually clean. It is mainly obtained from
Lake Victoria
• Sica
It is always used in the already mixed concrete as a binder. It improves strength and also retards
setting of the concrete. It is imported from South Africa.
• Dusty Stone
This is used as a binder and it is readily available.
Since concrete is a brittle material and is strong in compression, it weakens in tension. To improve
the strength of concrete, steel is used inside the concrete. This reinforced concrete is usually used
for pillar erections in storied buildings.

State of the Cement and Steel Industry in Uganda

3. The Steel Production in Uganda

The Ugandan steel industry has been growing at amazing rates averaging from 20 % to 30 % per
annum from imports and exports respectively from 2002-2006 due to the booming housing and
construction sector in the region (URA, 2010). The industry is dominated by local small scale indus-
trialists and a few medium to large scale producers.
The East African Steel Rolling mill at Jinja ran by the Madhivan group was the first steel milling com-
pany in Uganda since 1960s followed up by Steel rolling mills under the Alarm group of companies.
But over the years especially from 2002, the number of steel milling companies has increased to
over ten companies. This is due to the increased demand of steel by the many fabricators on the
Ugandan market as a result of the booming housing and construction sector.
Initially the steel milling companies relied on the imported billets and later predominantly using
scrap iron as a raw materials. Although scrap iron is the major raw materials, there is an outstanding
shortage of scrap steel. People have nowadays resorted to stealing manhole covers in the night in
the bid to collect scrap. By year 2000, the national scrap deposits were estimated at 150,000 to
200,000 MT while the local steel production capacity stood at 72,000 MT per annum. This reflected
that steel scrap inputs was mainly imported. However, recent studies by DGSM show that substan-
tial iron ore deposits of relatively good quality exists in Uganda
In the early 1980’s – 1990’s the main steel products made were agricultural machinery like hoes, ox
ploughs, pangas and their spare parts but currently, there is a wide range of products like barbed
wires in different gauges, wire nails of various sizes, galvanized corrugated iron sheets and twisted
/round bars in all size among others.

4. Impacts of Cement and Concrete

Cement is one of the raw materials used in concrete making and Cement on the other hand, is a
product of limestone which is a naturally occurring mineral. Therefore, there is a great potential of
altering the normal functioning of the environment through human endeavors to harness this min-
eral resource in different parts of the country. These impacts of cement and concrete are divided
into socio-economic, political and environmental divisions. These impacts are both positive and
negative in nature.

4.1 Environmental Impacts

The environment acts as a source of raw materials for the mining industry and a sink for wastes
generated during the mining process (MEMD, 2005). Below are some of the environmental impacts
of cement and concrete.
– Noise Pollution:
The people who stay in the areas around mineral deposits and cement plants suffer noise pollu-
tion which comes from blasting and quarrying of raw materials and also from heavy trucks that
ferry materials from the quarry to the cement plant and back.
– Vegetation Clearance:
Since most of the mining is carried out by artisanal and small scale miners who employ crude
and inappropriate methods of mining, this usually calls for clearance of surface vegetation and
excavation to locate the mineral ore. Even after the mining of activity there is little effort to have
such areas reclaimed (MEMD, 2003).
– Air Pollution
Each tonne of Portland cement produced releases approximately one tonne of carbondioxide in
to the environment. The production of cement is a significant contributor to atmospheric pollu-
tion and the green house effect (Swamy R.N, 1999).

Cement and Concrete for Africa

– Waste Disposal
The waste water from ready mixed concrete plants can be a big problem to the environment.
This is because it contains chemical that are not environmental friendly. Usually this water is not
given proper attention and is let to flow in water channels thus contamination fresh water bod-

4.2 Socio-economic Impact

– Cultural Distortion
Since there isn’t enough technical support in this sector in Uganda, expatriates are hired to do
the work. Since they come from different cultures and traditions, they are mingled with the local
culture and tradition hence distorting it.
– Development of Infrastructure
Due to the presence of cement and concrete high class structures and roads are built which
– Employment Opportunity
Many people have been employed in the cement and concrete plants hence improving on their
standards of living.
– Economic Development
The money obtained from the plants is spent within the community thereby boosting economy.
– Loss of Social Networks
During mining, many families are relocated thereby losing contacts from their friends and rela-

4.3 Political Aspects

– Through exports and imports of cement in the regional market and beyond, political ties be-
tween the countries is strengthened.
– Due to the strong and long lasting structure, the political leader stays in power longer since peo-
ple consider infrastructure development as they vote for their new leaders.
– With the friendly mining act 2003 which become operational in 2004, there are several wrangles
over the ownership of the license of mineral deposits in various parts of the country. This brings
about long-term hatred which may hinder further exploration of the mine.

5. Laboratories in Uganda
Uganda has one Materials laboratory that is located about 10km from Kampala city. This labora-
tory carries out tests on all materials used for construction. This ranges from construction of com-
mercial buildings to roads. But the main purpose of this laboratory is to test materials used in road
The materials laboratory also boosts smaller laboratories located at plant sites. Each plant, either
cement or concrete must have qualified personnel who must run the laboratory
These laboratories however, suffer several challenges such as:-
– lack of high technology equipments
– little facilitation from the government
– maintenance of the available equipments is very costly
– lack of enough qualified personnel

State of the Cement and Steel Industry in Uganda

6. Low Cost Housing Development

The quality of housing Ugandans live in has continued to improve over the years and at the same
time, there has been a decline in the use of mud and poles for walls easing pressure on both native
forests and woodlands. In 1991 over 85 per cent of houses in both urban and rural areas had
rammed earth for floor but by 2002 only 29 percent urban and 77 percent rural houses had the
One of the major reasons as to why most people are living in such unsafe shelters is the increased
price of cement. Since most people are living below the poverty line, they can not afford to buy a
50kg bag of cement costs 12 US$ in many retail outlets around Kampala.
Below are some of the strategic available in Uganda that require more emphasis and support so
that every family can live in safe shelters.
• Introduction of New and Improved Technology
Hydraform building system is one of the new technology which uses a mixture of soil and line to
make inter locking blocks. There blocks don’t need cement to join them hence reducing on
Other local initiatives include:
– Rammed soil walls
The soil is bonded with molasses in order to increase its strength.
– Timber houses:-
Some people in Uganda have resorted to the use of timer instead of soil since it is much safer.
• Forming of Organizations
The government encourages the formation of community based groups such as associations,
cooperatives and societies.
Through these groups, the people provide labor in construction as a way of self help initiative.
• Savings and Credit Mobilization
The savings and credit groups increase access of resources to local people. It is because of this
that the government encourages people to at least join a saving and credit group.
The government also intervenes incase the interest rates are high so that they are affordable to
• Skills Development/Training
The government through the Ministry of Education has a drive to equip the communities with
appropriate technical skills for construction. The government has advocated free education in
technical colleges as a way of equipping young people with skills.
• Assess to Land
To promote low cost housing in Uganda, the government has provided land under affordable
terms (leasing).e.g Namuwongo slum up grading project in Kampala.
Through the above strategies, people have started accessing safe shelters through the different
projects. These strategies require more in put in terms of financing for their success.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

7. References
[1] UBOS (2010) Statistical Abstract, Uganda National Bureau of Statistics.
[2] URA (2010) Annual Report, Uganda Revenue Authority.
[3] MEMD(2005) Annual Report, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
[4] NEMA (2006/2007) state of the environment report, National Environment Management
[5] Gabriel Data (2009) Unpublished report on iron ore deposits in Uganda.
[6] Kato Vincent (2006) limestone deposits in Uganda.
[7] UPS (2007) state of Uganda population report 2007; planned urbanization for Uganda’s
growing population, Population Secretariat, Kampala, Uganda.
[8] Fredrick Bjork; key issues from the 1999 Vancouver symposium on concrete technology for
sustainable development.
[9] Swamy, R. N A; Designing concrete and concrete structures for sustainable development:
1999 CNMET/ACI International Symposium on Concrete Technology for Sustainable Devel-
[10] John Baptist Kirabira: - Options for improvement of the Ugandan Iron and Steel industry; 2nd
international conference on advances in engineering and technology pp 228 – 234.

Use of Pozzolans as a Binder in the Building Materilas Industry in Uganda

Use of Pozzolans as a Binder in the

Building Materilas Industry in Uganda
William Balu-Tabaaro
Department of Geological Survey and Mines, Republic of Uganda

Due to the rapid increase in population in Uganda demand for housing has outstripped housing
availability. This is largely due to the high cost of building materials. The majority of the population
of Uganda many of whom live in rural areas cannot afford these high cost materials and hence can-
not build durable and decent houses. Traditional building materials like burnt bricks are getting
more expensive due to shrinking availability of fuel energy resources, especially firewood. The cut-
ting down of large chunks of forests to generate firewood is creating a lot of environmental prob-
lems, such as degradation, soil erosion and weather uncertainties. Hope therefore lies in the devel-
opment of alternative building materials that are cheaper and that have little impact on the
One such alternative building material is the abundant volcanic ashes (Pozzolans) in the Kisoro and
Kabale areas. The Kisoro, and Kabale, Volcanic Ashes (Pozzolans) have been extensively studied
and found to be cementitious when activated with cement or lime. Once converted into pozzolan
cement, they can be used to manufacture produce binders, blocks, wall panels, etc. to provide a
cheap alternative building material that will assist in increasing low cost housing in Kisoro and
Kabale. The objectives of this study are to carry out an assessment of how low cost housing tech-
nology can be used to convert the pozzolanic materials to use in low cost housing construction. The
data generated will be used by potential investors to establish facilities to produce building materi-
als for low cost housing, using pozzolanic materials
The successful commercialization and popularization of the pozzolanic materials will create em-
ployment for the majority poor in these areas. Provision of cheaper building materials will also en-
able them to get affordable and decent housing.
Research work carried out on Kabale-Kisoro Pozzolans indicated good materials that could be
used to produce alternative binders.

1. Introduction – The Housing Situation

1.1 An Overview of the Existing Housing Situation in Uganda
According to results of the 2002 Population and Housing Census, Uganda is presently estimated to
have a population of about 24.7 people with an average household size of 5.7. The same results
gave an occupancy density of 1.05 and hence an estimated housing stock of 2,690,900 units and a
backlog of 235,914 units in the country.
Uganda also has a lot of pozzolanic materials based on volcanic ashes found in Kisoro and Kabale
districts that could be used elsewhere to produce low cost building materials. It is known that tech-
nologies based on these materials have been developed and commercialized in other countries.
Uganda has the potential to develop similar technologies locally and get them commercialized in
order to provide low cost effective building materials to solve the housing problem.

1.2 Building Materials

One of the ways to improve both the quality and quantity of housing is to increase the availability of
low cost effective building materials. Building materials and construction are very important inputs

Cement and Concrete for Africa

to the housing sector, but suffer from dependence (60 %, 1992) on imports, poor distribution, short-
age, lack of local skills and equipment, lack of standardization of both locally manufactured and
imported materials and equipment, and low production capacities by the factories. Shortage and
importation of materials is the cause of their high prices and high construction costs. In general the
building materials industry in Uganda suffers from:
– High cost of materials and construction due to the unfavorable economic factors and perform-
ance, and overall shortage of the materials, tools, equipment and skills.
– Lack of standardization of materials and their quality control
– Local building materials are usually in short supply due to the fact that the factories have low
production and cater for a high demand.
– The traditional building materials and building techniques are not allowed to be used in urban
areas. There is too much dependence on imports, there is poor distribution and high transporta-
tion costs add to the problem.
– Related services such as consultancies are also in short supply and unevenly distributed.

1.3 Materials in Uganda

The majority of Uganda’s population lives in poor and non-durable housing. In most cases, there is
barely anything called housing as some live in mud walled huts. The main problem to access to
decent housing is due to high cost of building materials, which are not affordable by the majority
poor. Lack of appropriate technology to harness some abundant local raw materials also hinders
access to low cost housing. Although there are abundant local reserves of pozzolanic materials that
could be developed into building materials at lesser cost than other traditional materials, there is
need to use low cost technologies to develop cheap building materials that will lead to enhance-
ment of low cost housing in Uganda.

2. Pozzolanic Building Materials in Uganda

Definition of a Pozzolan
Pozzolan is defined as siliceous or siliceous and aluminious material which though not cementitious
itself, reacts when in a finely divided form, with lime or ordinary Poland cement, in the presence of
water at ordinary temperature and form stable and insoluble mineralogical phases of cementitious
Pozzolans can be natural and artificial. Natural pozzolans include volcanic ash, pumice, obsidian,
tuffs, etc while artificial ones include fly ash, blast furnace slag, burnt clays, reject bricks, burnt rice
husks, ashes, etc.
In Uganda, most of the pozzolans are derived from the abundant volcanic ashes in the Kabale,
Kisoro and Kapchorwa areas (See map). These geological materials were formed many years ago
and large quantities of these materials have accumulated over the years. Samples from these areas
were collected, characterized and some test work on their pozzolanicity , grindability , reactivity,
have been carried out. Their corrversion into building materials (blocks, wall panels) have yet to be
carried out.

Use of Pozzolans as a Binder in the Building Materilas Industry in Uganda

Figure 1: Map Showing Location of Pozzolans in Uganda

3. Characterisation of Pozzolans in Uganda

Determination of Geological, Petrological, Chemical and Physical Properties

3.1. Mineralogical Tests

The Pozzolanicity of the volcanic ashes as indicated by the glass state was determined by Petro-
graphic analysis and the results are shown in Table 3.1.1

Table 3.1.1 Glass state of the volcanic ash: Source University of Toronto Cements

Sample No. Location % Glass

1. Kisoro clinic quarry 45
2. Kwasembi – Busanza Road 30
3. Nyagishenyi Chamke Road 00
4. Chamka 1 ½ miles to Rwanda Border 33
5. Hakitembe – Nyakabande county 30
6. Hamugeza – Mulumdwa 35
7. Kasheregyenyi – Mulumdwa 15
9. Junction: Kashenyi – Muko 30
9A. Junction: Kashenyi Road 20
10. To Junction: Kashenyi - Road 20

Cement and Concrete for Africa

3.2 Pozzolanicity Tests

The pozzolanicity tests give indications of the reactivity of a pozzolan with lime. The procedure fol-
lowed was in accordance to the European standard EN 196. In the tests, comparison is made of
calcium hydroxide present in aqueous solution in contact with the hydrated cement after a period
of time, 8 to 15 days, with the quality of calcium hydroxide capable of saturating a solution of the
same alkalinity. The test is positive when the concentration in the solution is lower than the satura-
tion concentration. Results of the pozzolanicity tests are shown in Table 3.1.2

Table 3.1.2 Pozzolanicity Tests

Pozzolan Sample No. Hydroxyl ion conc. CaO conc

(moles/litre) (moles/litre)
Bunagana 2 3.96 8.05
Burnt clay - 26.73 6.04
Hakitembe 5 32.67 10.06
Nyagishenyi 3 1.58 8.68
Rubanda 12 3.96 7.47

3.3 Mineralogical Composition

The mineralogical compositions of the Uganda pozzolan were determined by X-ray diffraction.

Table 3.1.3 Uganda Pozzolan Mineralogical Composition

Sample No. Minerals identified by X-ray Diffraction

1 Augite (24-203)* and possibly Halloysite - 10A (9-451
2 Augite, Aluminium (24-202) and possibly Pyrophanite (29-902)
3 Augite (24-203) and possibly quarts (5-490)
4 Diopside, Aluminium (38-466) and Forsterite (4-768)
5 Diopside (11-654) and Forsterite (4-768)
6 Forsterite, Ferroan (33-675) and possibly Augite (24-201)
7 Forsterite, Ferroan (33-657) and possibly Pyrophanite (29-902)
8 Quartz (5-490) and Muscovite - 2M1 (19-814)
9 Augite (24-203), Forsterite (7-74) and possibly Kutnohorite (11-345)
9A Diopside (19-239)
10 Augite (24-203) and Forsterite (4-768)
11 Quartz (33-1161) and Kaolinite - 1MD (6-221)
12 Quartz (5-490) and Calcite (5-586)
13 Calcite (24-27) and Aragonite (5-453)

* Numbers in parenthesis refer to JCPDS powder index files. Source: University of Toronto.

3.4 Chemical Analysis

The Chemical compositions of a selection of the pozzolans were analysed. The Chemical composi-
tions of the pozzolans were compared with the requirements prescribed by ASTM C618 for Class N

Use of Pozzolans as a Binder in the Building Materilas Industry in Uganda

According to ASTM C618, natural pozzolans shall conform to the chemical requirements presented
in Table 3.1.4a to be classified as a Class N material. Class N covers raw or calcined natural poz-
zolans for use as mineral admixtures in concrete.

Table 3.1.4 a. Chemical Requirements for class N according to ASTM C618.

Class N
SiO2 + Al2O3 + Fe2O3, min % 70.0
Loss on Ignition, max % 10.0
Alkalis (optional), requirement Na2O-content, max % 1.5
Moisture content*, max % 3.0
SO3, max % 4.0
* Equivalent Na2O = Na2O + 0.658 K 2O

The chemical composition, i.e. the content of the major oxides of the pozzolans was determined by
ICP. The following oxides were quantified: Al2O3, CaO, Fe2O3, K 2O, MgO, Na2O, and SiO2.
The results of the analysis are summarized in Table 3.1.4 b

Table 3.1.4 b: Chemical Analysis (All values are presented in % by volume)

Pozzolan No. SiO2 Al2O3 Fe2O3 MgO CaO Na2O Ka2O LOI* NC**
1 42.72 11.66 13.97 7.89 12.10 1.22 2.74 2.35 65
7 45.03 15.02 13.55 5.44 8.32 2.48 3.63 1.10 85
9 45.75 15.79 12.27 4.28 7.42 2.62 4.01 1.62 65
19 42.22 9.77 12.60 10.34 13.32 1.60 2.78 1.47 60
21 45.07 11.16 12.11 11.13 10.51 2.05 2.49 0.24 55
22 34.49 5.76 10.81 8.67 14.37 0.18 3.03 15.19 5
25 47.31 7.15 7.53 6.26 10.57 0.36 3.39 12.14 5
27B 47.33 8.23 7.44 5.70 9.77 0.30 3.56 13.56 5
* Loss on Ignition
** Estimated Non crystalline Matter (Content of Glass)

4. Development of the Pozzolanic Cement – Test Work Programme

4.1 Grinding Tests
After the chemical and pozzolanicity tests, samples of pozzolans were subjected to grinding tests,
after size analysis. Using past tests, a range of sizes were targeted. For each grind size, the fineness
was determined and mortar cubes made for subsequent tests for compression strength, initial and
final setting, water ratios and durability. The grinding tests were also used to determine optimal
grinding costs using work indices.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Table 4.1 Natural particle size of volcanic ash

Sample Distribution Sieve size in microns ( )

function 12.5 mm 6.3 mm 2.8 mm 150 mm
2 Cumm % 74.7 41.4 14.4 0.9
3 Cumm % 74.3 51.9 25.1 5.4
5 Cumm % 99.4 92.9 61.8 11.9
12 Cumm % 95.2 64.3 26.6 3.3
9 Cumm % 99.8 90.1 46.2 5.3

No.2 - Bunagana road

No.3 - Nyagishenyi (Katarara)
No.5 - Hakilembe (Gihinga)
No.12 - Kikombe (Rubanda)
No.9 - Muko

Table 4.2 Sieve size with 80 % and 50 % passing for volcanic ash in natural state

Sample No. Sieve size in mm

80 % Passing 50 % Passing
2 14,000 76,000
3 15,200 6,000
5 4,700 2,350
12 9,000 4,800
9 5,200 3,300

After size analysis, the volcanic ash had their specific gravities determined and the results are
shown in Table 4.3.

Table 4.3 Specific Gravities of Volcanic ash samples

Sample No. Specific Gravity

2 2.22
3 2.30
5 2.02
12 2.40
9 2.38
Average specify gravity 2.9

Use of Pozzolans as a Binder in the Building Materilas Industry in Uganda

4.2 Work Index

Using the grinding tests, the work index was used to determine power consumption, a factor that
would help in evaluating costs of production. The work index was calculated using the formula:
W = Wi (10/P½ − 10/F½)
Where Work Index denoted by Wi, is the amount of work required in Kwh/short ton to reduce a
material from infinite size to 80 percent passing 100 microns and is calculated from the above for-
mula where:
F = 80 percent passing size in the feed, expressed in microns
P = 80 percent passing size in the product, expressed in microns
W = Work required in Kwh/short ton to reduce a material from F to P
The work index (Kw-h/ton) was determined by grinding silica sand whose comminution energies are
known, and the same conditions were used for volcanic ash in a 220mm × 200mm ball mill at 45 %
ball charge and 72 rpm. The resultant particle size distribution was determined. The experimental
variables for work index determination are time of grind and particle size. The calculated work indi-
ces for volcanic ash samples are shown in Table 4.4.

Table 4.4 Work Index of Volcanic ash

Sample No. Specific Gravity Work Index (Ei (KW-hr/ton)

2 2.22 10.16
3 2.30 12.23
5 2.43 11.72
12 2.40 8.77
9 2.38 9.49
Average 10.49

After grinding, various surface areas were determined and the results are as shown in Table 4.5

Table 4.5 Specific surface area of ground volcanic ash

Sample No. Specific surface area (Blaine cm2 /g)

4 hrs 5 hrs 6 hrs
Hakilembe No. 5 3300 4400 4800
Bunagana No. 2 4000 4400 4900
Rubanda No. 12 3800 4200 4400

4.3 Mixing Trials

After all the grinding tests, mixing trials were carried out. The mixing involved additives of Ordinary
Portland Cement and lime. But due to low quality lime from Uganda, a lime from Kenya was used.
(see table for chemical and physical properties).
The different sizes of ground pozzolans were activated with Ordinary Portland Cement and lime in
various proportions from 10 % to 40 % i.e. ratios of 1:10 to 1:2.5 (cement: pozzolans). The various
mix ratios were then subjected to various tests (i.e. water ratios, compression strengths etc.) to
determine various characteristics of the cement.
The results of compression tests are shown in the tables 4.6 – 4.9.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Table 4.6: Portland-Pozzolan Cement characteristics

Ash Type: “Sample 2” ground for 4 hours in 220 x 200 mm ball mill
OPC: Twiga Brand
Specimen: 8 x 4 cylinders

Mix ratio Standard Setting Time (min) Compressive

OPC/ASH (%) Consistency strengths 7 days
water (cured MPa)

100/00 27.6 100 165 56.72

90/10 27.2 98 160 55.93
80/20 26.6 92 175 56.00
70/30 25.2 135 170 49.16
60/40 24.3 125 183 46.18
50/50 23.8 120 229 38.61
40/60 23.9 160 250 37.02

Table 4.7: Compressive strength of OPC- Pozzolan cements

Ash Type: “sample 3” No. 2
OPC: Twiga Brand (Tanzania)
Specimen: 8 x 4 Cylinders

Compressive Strength (MPa)

Mix ratio 7 days 28 days
Curing conditions Curing conditions
Air Water Air Water
100/00 46.58 55.93 43.20 75.72
90/10 40.50 50.16 40.20 56.72
80/20 39.60 48.77 30.25 69.67
70/30 35.20 46.77 40.00 68.67
60/40 33.64 45.98 32.44 52.15
50/50 26.90 32.64 25.44 44.79
40/60 25.10 36.22 23.69 40.21
30/70 18.91 21.22 18.90 31.85
20/80 11.35 15.13 13.14 24.88
10/90 5.90 9.30 5.00 11.74

Table 4.8: Compressive strengths of OPC – Pozzolan cement mortars

Ash Type: “Sample 4”
OPC: Twiga Brand (Tanzania)
Specimen: 100 mm cubes, cement: sand: 1:3 W/C = 0.53

Mix ratio Compressive strength (Mpa) water cured

OPC/ASH (%) 7 days 28 days
100/00 26.0 38.4
90/10 22.0 29.3
80/20 18.0 25.4
60/40 9.4 13.2
50/50 6.4 13.5
40/60 4.1 8.2
30/70 2.7 5.8

Use of Pozzolans as a Binder in the Building Materilas Industry in Uganda

Table 4.9: Compressive Strength of OPG-Pozzolan Cement Mortars

Ash Type: “Sample 5” No. 12
OPC: Twiga Brand (Tanzania)
Specimen: 100 mm cubes, cement: sand, 1:3 W/C = 0.53

Mix ratio Compressive strength (Mpa) water cured

OPC/ASH (%) 7 days 28 days
100/00 26.0 38.4
90/10 16.3 25.6
80/20 10.5 24.7
70/30 10.2 21.9
60/40 4.8 13.6
50/50 3.9 10.3

5. Conclusions and Recommendations

Tests carried out identified pozzolanic materials that proved reactive when activated. It was estab-
lished that these pozzolanic materials can be used as binders to produce building materials and at
a price cheaper than Ordinary Portland Cement.
This shows that low cost buildings can be constructed especially for low income and rural popula-
tions. There is need to carry out socio-economic studies.

6. References
[1] Byamugisha, S.S.; Balu-Tabaaro, W. (UGSM; Entebbe, UGA). The western rift valley volcanic
fields, and their association and role in the lime-pozzolana cement manufacture in Uganda.
UGSM unp. Report 1986. – No. SSB/12, WBT/1
[2] Day Robert L. Pozzolans for use in low cost housing: state of the art report. Department of
Civil Engineering. Universidad de Calgary. Investigacion reportada No. CE92-1. Enero 1992.
[3] Heikal M. et al, “Limestone filled pozzolanic cement’, Cement & Concrete Research Issue
No. 11, Vol. 30, 2000.
[4] Malhotra V.M, Mehta P.K. Pozzolanic and cementitious materials. Publicado por Gordon and
Breach. Inglaterra. 1996.
[5] Ndawula, G. (UGSM; Entebbe, UGA), The potential for use of volcanic ash pozzolan based
cements in Kisoro District. UGSM unp. Report. 1992.– No. GN/1.
[6] Martirena J, Betancourt S.: Notes on a Book for Technology for the manufacture of Lime
Pozzolana Binders.
[7] Martirena J.F.: The Development of Pozzolanic Cement in Cuba, Journal of Appropriate
Technology, vol. 21, No. 2, September 1994, Intermediate Technology Publications, U.K.
[8] Kabagambe-Kaliisa, F.A. (UGSM; Entebbe, UGA), Possible Sources of pozzolana in Uganda,
UGSM unp. Report 1998. – No. FAKK/14.
[9] Groves, A.W. (UGSM; Entebbe, UGA). Report on the prospects of using the volcanic tuff of
the Fort Portal District for the manufacture of cement. UGSM unp. Report. 1929. – No.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Inorganic Binder Systems for Innovative Panel Technology in

East Africa – Possible Ways to Produce Building Materials from
Local Raw Materials
Gregor J. G. Gluth1, Woubishet Z. Taffese2, G. Senthil Kumaran3, Herbert C. Uzoegbo4,
Hans-Carsten Kühne1
BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Germany
EiABC Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development,
Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
KIST Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, Rwanda
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Many African countries face serious problems associated with the rapid growth of urban population
and the resulting demand for affordable building materials. In search for appropriate solutions to
improve the situation, the “LightSHIP” project was initiated, whose aims were to identify the re-
quired product specifications, to evaluate possible approaches and ultimately to develop new build-
ing materials for East Africa. It was concluded that these materials should be produced in Africa
mainly from local raw materials; prefabricated, easily transportable construction elements are to be
preferred. It is therefore reasonable to focus on artificial stones and partition boards. To be inde-
pendent of imported cement, it is suggested to make use of volcanic rocks, which are abundant in
East African countries, for lime-pozzolan binders and geopolymers in the production of these con-
struction elements. Future research activities should thus concentrate on assessment of the ap-
plicability of available volcanic rocks, the influence of their properties on the resulting binders and
the design of appropriate binder-reinforcement-filler systems.

1. Introduction
Africa had huge rates of urban growth over the past five decades. Africa’s urban population grew
from 33 million in 1950 to 373 million in 2007, which constitute 38.7 % of the total African population
in 2007. According to UN projections, the urban population is expected to grow at annual growth
rate of 2.8 % to achieve 1234 million in 2050, which is 62 % of the expected total population. Thus,
population increase is becoming largely an urban phenomenon in Africa.1 Two cities in Sub-Saharan
Africa, affected by these developments, are Kigali (Rwanda) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). Both face
a large increase in population – e.g., the population of Addis Ababa has doubled nearly every dec-
ade – and the associated problem of tremendous pressure on social and physical infra-
To overcome these infrastructure problems, it is necessary to construct a huge number of housings
and public buildings in short time and at acceptable costs. Although a lot of effort has been put into
attempts to improve the situation, the cities of Kigali and Addis Ababa are far away from providing
sufficient new living space and infrastructure. The reasons for deficient construction activities are
the lack of sufficing financial resources on the one hand, and the lack of affordable adequate build-
ing materials on the other hand. Although there are deposits of raw materials for cement produc-
tion, prices for cement are very high in East Africa, which makes concrete structures too expensive
in many cases.3 Furthermore, burning of cement clinker and even bricks is hampered in Rwanda
due to energy shortage. Existing approaches, such as the use of magnesium oxychloride cement
for partition boards in Addis Ababa,1b are a great progress but have certain limitations. For example
the magnesia binder boards can be used only indoors because of poor water resistance.4

Inorganic Binder Systems for Innovative Panel Technology in East Africa

For the given reasons, there is an urgent need for the development of new building materials in Af-
rican countries. The materials should be produced in Africa with the highest possible fraction of
local raw materials to reduce costs and to make the production largely independent of price move-
ments in the international market. Furthermore, for economic and ecological reasons, the produc-
tion of these building materials should as little as possible consume energy and produce carbon
dioxide. The successful development of such materials would not only serve to solve many of the
infrastructure problems in African cities, but would also create many new jobs in the building sector,
which is traditionally an important employer in Africa,5 and therefore would have an additional pos-
itive impact on the society. The present paper describes steps undertaken towards the develop-
ment of new building materials in Ethiopia and Rwanda and presents future plans, aiming at the
production of new binder materials and lightweight wall boards in Sub-Saharan Africa.

2. Step 1 – The LightSHIP Project

The LightSHIP (Lightweight Construction – Scientific Cooperation for Housing with Innovative Pan-
el Technology) project is a preparatory measure, funded by the International Bureau of the German
BMBF Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the scope of the funding scheme “Part-
nerships for sustainable solutions in developing countries”. Project partners were the institutes of
the authors as well as the German-African Business Association and a German small sized building
In the course of the project duration, several visits by researchers were made at the institutes in
Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa and Germany. During the visits, workshops with partners from in-
dustry and governmental administrations as well as inspections of several laboratories, factories,
construction sites and housing areas were conducted. Based on the gathered information, follow-
ing conclusions regarding the fabrication and specifications of the materials to be designed could
be drawn:
– Pre-fabricated elements are to be preferred. This will lead to an optimised production process
and will minimize the risk of failures during the fabrication process.
– The elements should be easily transportable and easy to erect.
– The materials have to be produced with the highest possible fraction of local resources.
– Already existing experiences in the involved African countries have to be taken into account dur-
ing the development process. These exist, inter alia, in the area of cement and concrete blocks
and partition boards.
From these requirements, it is obvious that lightweight partition boards as well as artificial blocks
could be adequate construction elements, although other solutions are possible, too.
Supporting further research activities, test were conducted on different building materials, already
in use in African countries. Compressive and bending strength tests were performed on lightweight
partition boards, hardened magnesium oxychloride cement pastes and lightweight concretes; fur-
thermore, fire resistance tests were performed on lightweight partition boards and the swelling and
shrinkage behaviour of lightweight concrete was investigated. These tests aimed at defining speci-
fications for the new building materials and providing a sound data basis for comparison of these
new materials with conventional construction materials. The results of the investigations will be
published in future reports.

3. Step 2 – Development of Binders Produced from Local Raw Materials

3.1 General
For the production of artificial stones, inorganic binders are required. Likewise, for the fabrication of
partition boards, usually inorganic binder materials are used. Since conventional cements are most-
ly imported and very expensive in most African countries,1b,3 it is necessary to search for alternative

Cement and Concrete for Africa

routes to produce the required binders. As stated above, these binders should be mainly made
from local resources. Since huge amounts of volcanic rocks (e.g. pumice) are available in East Afri-
can countries,1b these could serve as the main raw material to produce natural pozzolan-based
binders. According to Gartner,6 pozzolan-based cements are one of only few ways to produce bind-
ers in an economical and ecologically feasible way, i.e. with the much lower consumption of energy
and with greatly reduced output of carbon dioxide, compared to ordinary Portland cement. There-
fore, the use of natural pozzolans as raw material for production of binders would be a contribution
to environment protection not only in Africa, but in the entire world.

3.2 Lime-pozzolan Binders

Natural pozzolans are long known to be able to harden by reaction with aqueous calcium hydroxide
solutions. In most applications, calcium hydroxide is supplied by Portland cement clinker, i.e. the
pozzolans are used as additions to produce blended cements. However, under favourable condi-
tions it is sufficient to activate ground volcanic rock powder by addition of only lime to initiate poz-
zolanic reaction.7 This means that lime instead of Portland cement can be used to produce binders
from natural pozzolans.
The term “pozzolanic reaction” refers to the reaction of silica with lime, which can be expressed as:
S + xCH + yH → CxSHy+x or C-S-H (cement chemistry notation: C = CaO; S = SiO2; A = Al2O3;
H = H2O). The C-S-H in hardened lime-pozzolan binders is closely related to the C-S-H gel in hard-
ened Portland cement pastes, however, in general it has lower C/S ratio. In addition to C-S-H, AFm
phases (C4AH13, C2ASH8 and other) and under certain circumstances C3AH6 (hydrogarnet) might
form during reaction of the pozzolans when the latter contain reactive alumina. These phases bridge
the gaps between the particles of pozzolan and thus lead to hardening of the paste with compres-
sive strengths up to 20 MPa.7a Hardening of lime-pozzolan binders is in general slower than that of
Portland cement. However, higher temperatures, as found in most African countries, promote the
pozzolanic reaction and thus hardening.
In future research the influence of crucial parameters on the reactions of available volcanic rocks
and the properties of the hardened pastes have to investigated. These include composition of the
pozzolans, grinding, and possible use of small amounts of activators such as NaSO4 or CaCl2.

3.3 Geopolymeric Binders

Another way to utilise aluminosilicates as binders is activation by highly concentrated alkali hydrox-
ide or silicate solutions to produce geopolymers.8 Most research on geopolymers was concerned
with metakaolin or industrial by-products (e.g. fly ash) as starting material, however, natural minerals
and volcanic rocks have proven to be useful as raw material for geopolymers, as well.9 Usually ge-
opolymers are cured at slightly elevated temperatures of 35-85 °C but can also be produced at
room temperature (ca. 23 °C).10
The process of geopolymerisation consists of dissolution of the aluminosilicate starting material,
coagulation and gelation of the aluminate and silicate species in solution and finally in rearrange-
ment and partial crystallisation of the gel. Geopolymers thus comprise amorphous and semi- or
fully crystalline alkali aluminosilicates, which have been identified as various zeolites or zeolite pre-
cursors. The structure of geopolymers (including the amorphous phase) is made up of tetrahe-
drally coordinated Si4+ and Al3+ ions, linked by oxygen, with only few non-bridging oxygen atoms;
they can thus be described as three-dimensional aluminosilicate framework. The negative charge
on the AlO4- tetrahedrons is charge-balanced by the alkali cations.8,10a
Compared to conventional cement-bonded materials, geopolymers can have superior properties
such as rapid strength development, heat and fire resistance, acid resistance, dimensional stability
and improved adhesion.8 Beside use as conventional building material, geopolymers can find many

Inorganic Binder Systems for Innovative Panel Technology in East Africa

other applications, especially in mining and in toxic waste immobilisation,11 which could provide
further benefit to the African countries, which possess demand in these areas.
Similar to the case of lime-pozzolan binders, the influence of the composition and granulometry of
the aluminosilicate sources (volcanic rocks) on the properties of the resulting geopolymers has to
be investigated. Further parameters which strongly affect the structure and performance of the
geopolymerisation product are the activator species including their concentrations, the curing re-
gime (temperature, duration) and the possible use of additional alumina or silica sources; these
have to be examined as well.

4. Step 3 – Future Cooperation and Development of Innovative Lightweight

Wall Boards
After identification of the most appropriate natural pozzolans for fabrication of lime-pozzolan bind-
ers and geopolymers, their use for specified applications has to be tested and optimized. This
comprises in particular assessment of their applicability for the production of artificial stones and
panels for lightweight partition boards. The latter probably requires the use of fibre reinforcement
to enhance the tensile strength of the panels. As in the case of the binder materials, the fibres
should originate from the producing countries and should be as cost-effective as possible. Al-
though there are problems associated with the durability of vegetable fibres in highly alkaline envi-
ronments12 as in geopolymers and lime-pozzolan binders, their use should be considered, since
they are cheap and abundant in many African countries. In addition, for both applications the influ-
ence of filler materials on the properties of the resulting products has to be evaluated.
Currently, a joint project of the scientific partners together with the German-African Business As-
sociation and partners from the industry to develop and optimize lime-pozzolan binders and ge-
opolymers based on natural pozzolans is in preparation. Furthermore, it is planned by the German-
African Business Association to establish several further projects, concerned with different aspects
of the production of partition boards in Africa. These efforts are ultimately aimed at producing light-
weight partition boards for outdoor use from local raw materials and thus to improve the housing
situation in Africa significantly.

5. References
[1] (a) World Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 Revision; United Nations: New York, 2008. (b)
Taffese, W. Z. Innovative Low-cost Lightweight Constructions for Ethiopia, unpublished
manuscript; EiABC/Addis Ababa University: Addis Ababa, 2011.
[2] Ethiopia: Addis Ababa Urban Profile; United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN
HABITAT): Nairobi, 2008.
[3] Marinescu, M. V. A.; Schmidt, W.; Msinjili, N. S.; Uzoegbo, H. C.; Stipanovic Oslakovic, I.;
Kumaran, G. S.; Brouwers, H. J. H.; Kühne, H.-C.; Rogge, A. In 13th International Congress
on the Chemistry of Cement, Madrid, Spain, 2011.
[4] Deng, D. Cem. Concr. Res. 2003, 33, 1311-1317.
[5] Wells, J.; Wall, D. Habitat Int. 2003, 27, 325-337.
[6] Gartner, E. Cem. Concr. Res. 2004, 34, 1489-1498.
[7] (a) Massazza, F. In Structure and Performance of Cements, 2nd ed.; Bensted, J.; Barnes, P.,
Eds.; Spon Press: London, 2002; pp 326-352. (b) Massazza, F. Cemento 1976, 73, 3-38. (c)
Shi, C.; Day, R. L. Cem. Concr. Res. 2001, 31, 813-818. (d) Moropoulou, A.; Bakolas, A.;
Aggelakopoulou, E. Thermochim. Acta 2004, 420, 135-140. (e) Ubbríaco, P.; Tasselli, F. J.
Therm. Anal. 1998, 52, 1047-1054. (f) Türkmenoglu, A. G.; Tankut, A. Cem. Concr. Res. 2002,
32, 629-637.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

[8] Duxson, P.; Fernández-Jiménez, A.; Provis, J. L.; Lukey, G. C.; Palomo, A.; van Deventer, J.
S. J. J. Mater. Sci. 2007, 42, 2917-2933.
[9] (a) Xu, H.; van Deventer, J. S. J. Int. J. Miner. Process. 2000, 59, 247-266. (b) Xu, H.; van
Deventer, J. S. J.; Lukey, G. C. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2001, 40, 3749-3756. (c) Chávez-García,
M. L.; García, T. A.; De Pablo, L. In 13th International Congress on the Chemistry of Cement,
Madrid, Spain, 2011.
[10] (a) Rahier, H.; van Mele, B.; Biesemanns, M.; Wastiels, J.; Wu, X. J. Mater. Sci. 1996, 31,
71-79. (b) Sagoe-Crentsil, K.; Taylor, A.; Brown, T. In 13th International Congress on the
Chemistry of Cement, Madrid, Spain, 2011.
[11] (a) van Jaarsveld, J. G. S.; van Deventer, J. S. J.; Lorenzen, L. Miner. Eng. 1997, 10, 659-669.
(b) van Deventer, J. S. J.; Provis, J. L.; Duxson, P.; Lukey, G. C. J. Hazard. Mater. 2007, 139,
[12] Vegetable Plants and their Fibres as Building Materials (Proc. 2nd Int. RILEM Symp.); Sobral,
H. S., Ed.; Chapman and Hall: London, 1990.

Challenges of the African Environmental Conditions for Concrete Mixture Composition

Challenges of the African Environmental Conditions for Concrete

Mixture Composition
Wolfram Schmidt
BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Berlin, Germany

1. Introduction
Concrete technology was exposed to a rapid development during the last three decades. For the
longest time in its history, concrete was considered as a three component system consisting of ag-
gregates, which are bound by the hardened cement paste consisting of hydrated cement. Tradition-
ally, the only way of adjusting the consistency of concrete was using well adjusted aggregates and
grading curves and adding excess water to the concrete, accepting that the latter in return reduces
strength and durability. During the last three decades, however, concrete has developed further
from a three component system towards an (at least) five component system (Figure 1), since the
use of mineral additions and chemical admixtures has become state of the art. Both components
are able to enhance the workability, the compactability, and the density of the microstructure with
effects on strength, ductility and durability, while cement can be saved in parallel. Due to reasona-
ble use of admixtures and additions, concrete can be designed to match mechanically high per-
formance specifications. Traditionally, cement paste was considered the weakest component in
concrete. However, in modern concrete a good paste composition can yield highest performance,
passing the role of the mechanical bottleneck towards the aggregates.

Figure 1: Traditional versus modern concrete mixture components

Recently, further components are under world-wide investigation, being able to give an added value
to cementitious products, such as phase change materials, superabsorbent polymers, air-purifying
and self-cleaning agents, or light reflecting beads. However, strictly speaking these can also be al-
located to the admixtures or additions.
General rules for a good mixture composition apply everywhere in the world. Materials should be
chosen wisely according to the specifications and boundary conditions. Poor quality and quality
scattering of the raw materials should be avoided as much as possible. The total grading of all con-
crete solid components should be considered, and for the proper processing on the construction
site, concrete should provide adequate workability. However, everywhere in the world, different raw
materials are available and concrete needs to withstand varying climatic threads. Also prices, avail-
ability and infrastructure for concrete components vary greatly. Finally, building history, construc-
tion site conditions and national regulations diverge from country to country.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

In its history, concrete was always a construction material of the northern hemisphere. The prime
father of cement, the “Opus Caementitium” was invented by the Romans, the invention of the mod-
ern cement took place around 1850 in the UK. After this invention cement and concrete wrote an
unmatched success story in the construction history and were matter of intensive research in North-
ern America, Europe, Northern and Eastern Asia, all regions above the equator, while in Africa it is
a rather new material. It is hence evident that the significant part of the today’s technology and
knowledge about concrete is based on the boundary conditions of the northern hemisphere, where
concrete development always went hand in hand with the developing industries, particularly heavy
industries. Africa is climatically differing, the geography and infrastructure differs strongly and also
the concrete related industries and the construction technology are different.
Europe, Japan and Northern America provide a small meshed network of ready-mix plants. Cement
is typically delivered to the mixing plants several times per week. Mixing of concrete and filling of
the truck mixer takes place in computerised and controlled environment, and also the influence of
the transportation are manageable. E.g. in Germany, the average distance between construction
site and mixing plant is only 17 km. This allows a steady and calculable concrete quality, so that
mixture composition considerations regarding the robustness of the fresh performance play a sec-
ondary role compared to cost and performance considerations. In Africa the major way of prepar-
ing concrete is on-site mixing with cement that is stored in bags on the construction site. This
process is exposed to numerous sources of errors, so that robustness of workability at differing
climatic conditions might play the key role for good concrete.
Concluding the last passages, Africa shows the following specifications:
– Wide range of climatic boundary conditions
– Low level of regulations with special emphasis on the African environment
– Poor ready-mix infrastructure
– Different concrete operation techniques
These specific African aspects should be considered for the composition of concrete. This applies
for each of the five components as well as for the general approach towards mixtures. Particularly
from the point of view of the available concrete infrastructure and the future infrastructural needs,
the specific African boundary conditions might suggest different, new or forgotten approaches.

2. Mixture Components
2.1 Cement
Cement is traditionally considered as the binder to glue the aggregates together. During the last
decades many different cement types were developed with tailor-made properties according to
specific conditions. Sales of blended cements increase steadily, while OPC sales reduce in parallel.
An example, showing this for Germany is given in Figure 2. The same trend can be observed for
most European countries. This is on the one hand result of the necessity to reduce CO2 emissions
and to save energy costs, on the other hand the companies see the chance, to supply cement with
specific properties. For example, fly ash and limestone interact in synergy, fostering the formation
of monocarboaluminate, while cements blended with slag and limestone can generate similar per-
formance as OPC. A very comprehensive report about the present and future of cement is given by
Schneider et al [4], according to which already today cements are very versatile, however, future
developments point into the direction of even a wider variety and complexity.
In Northern America still today OPC totally dominates the cement market, while the largest market
share in Asia is covered by fly ash blended cement. Cements in Europe are more diversified. OPC,
blends with fly ash, limestone, and mixed components share comparable sales numbers. In Africa
mixed blends and pozzolanic cements are the predominating cement types. However, differing
from Europe, where during the last decades blends were developed in order to improve or modify

Challenges of the African Environmental Conditions for Concrete Mixture Composition

the performances according to specifications, in Africa, the use of supplementary cementitious

materials (SCM) is prior a result of the necessity to save energy and a lack of alternatives. While fly
ash, slag, and silica fume, materials, which typically improve the performance, are easily available
in Europe due to heavy industries, Africa’s cement industry is bound to the naturally available re-
sources like limestone, or natural pozzolans.
This certainly forces special considerations in the mixture composition. Natural pozzolans can en-
counter large quality scatterings. Typically the contribution of their pozzolanic reaction to the late
strength is significantly smaller than the effect of fly ash. Furthermore, they can introduce large al-
kali contents [1], which increases the risk of alkali silica reaction (ASR), hence the choice of aggre-
gates needs to be considered with special emphasis on ASR. Finally, natural pozzolans often pro-
vide large porous surfaces, which increase the water demand of the binder paste, so that the
workability can be reduced.
Special considerations also have to be given to the cement storage, when superplasticizers are
used. In Africa, cement is typically stored in 50 kg bags. According to Schmidt et al. [2], storage
conditions at differing humidity and temperature might affect the set retarder (typically gypsum,
hemi-hydrate, and anhydrite) with strong influence on the performance of superplasticizers and the
setting behaviour.

Figure 2: Development of sales of different cements in Germany

during the last 15 years based on the data of bdz [3]

2.2 Water
The water to cement ratio (w/c) or analogously the water to powder ratio (w/p) and the water to ce-
mentitious materials ratio (w/cm) are major influencing factors for the workability and compactabil-
ity, and the mechanical properties of concrete. In the past, however, improved workability due to
higher water contents often outweighed the negative effect on the cement paste. Today, due to
superplasticizers, the consistency can be modified largely independently of the water content. As a
result, today, high performance concrete (HPC) and ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) is put
more and more into the focus of research, since water cement ratios can be reduced to extremely
low values. However, the construction market predominantly still requires normal concrete with
compressive strengths between 15 and 35 MPa. Although technologically possible, there is no ne-
cessity to force low w/c for normal concrete applications. Even with very high w/c good concrete
can be designed if a reasonable mixture composition is chosen.
Sub-saharan countries do not possess a network of ready-mix concrete plants, which would allow
delivering a uniform concrete quality to the site. Even in South Africa, which has a relatively highly
elaborated concrete infrastructure, mixing concrete on the construction site with cement from bags
is state of technology.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

This, and the necessity to adjust the workability by supplementary water, bears a very high risk that
different mixing charges contain uncontrolled excess water. Furthermore, Africa’s climate is known
to be very hot in many regions, which causes quick and untraceable diffusion of water. This again
yields random water contents, which in addition might vary also with the distance to the concrete
surface, causing high risk of cracks.
In order to overcome these problems, concrete mix designs should provide components that avoid
quick diffusion. Kaolinite, Illite or other clayey materials in small amounts can help to maintain the
water in the concrete. Furthermore, modified cellulose or starch can effectively reduce the diffusion
of water. Both latter are natural materials, which are cheap and available in Africa. Finally, the only
way of uncoupling the workability from the water content is using superplasticizers (SP). Particu-
larly at very high temperatures, when cement hydration is accelerated causing rapid loss of work-
ability, the use of SP can be considered as the only solution to provide steady concrete quality. The
newest generations based on polycarboxylate are very versatile but they are also expensive and
their processing requires complex fabrication technology. The very first generation of SP, based on
lignosulphonate, which is a waste product of the paper industry, still possess a large market share
everywhere in the world, and their use can be assumed to bring great benefit to the Africa typical
on-site mixing process.

2.3 Fillers
Fillers are fine powders that help modifying mixture compositions according to particular specifica-
tions. They can be used to reduce the cement content in concrete while maintaining the workability
of concrete with high cement content. As fillers are inert or their reaction occurs much later than the
cement reactions, fillers are a reasonable option to reduce the influence of scattering cement qual-
ities. This is particularly valid at high temperatures. Fillers can also be used supplementary to the
cement in order to improve specific properties. Pozzolanic or hydraulic fillers like fly ash, natural
pozzolans, or slag can furthermore react with time with the calcium hydroxide generated during the
cement hydration yielding calcium silicate hydrates (C-S-H), calcium aluminate hydrates (C-A-H), or
calcium aluminate silicate hydrates (C-A-S-H), which densify the microstructure and increase the
strength. In most of the countries with long lasting concrete tradition, fly ash, slag, silica fume, or
limestone powder are well available and established. Africa does not inevitably have access to
these materials (with the exception of limestone). However, Africa is rich of raw materials that could
be used as alternative fillers. Specific African fillers could be bagasse ash [5], dolomite powder [6]
and natural pozzolans. The latter, however, often provide high and porous structures (Figure 3),
which demands for higher water contents than e.g. necessary with industrial pozzolans like fly ash
and silica fume, which positively contribute to the packing density and rheology of concrete.

Figure 3: SEM micrographs (BAM) of a natural pozzolan (Rhenish Trass, left) and an industrial pozzolan
(fly ash, right)

Challenges of the African Environmental Conditions for Concrete Mixture Composition

2.4 Admixtures
Without doubt, admixtures for concrete were the catalyst of the rapid enhancements in concrete
technology during the last decades. Improved rheology modifiers firstly allowed developments like
self-compacting concrete, UHPC, engineered cementitious composites (ECC) and other break-
throughs in concrete technology. However, admixtures should be considered as modifiers and sup-
plementary boosters of already well engineered concrete technology, they should not be consid-
ered as means to neglect in return reasonable concrete technology. Comparing the relatively high
prices of admixtures to the predominating needs in Africa, namely housing and infrastructure, both
at reasonable costs, admixtures should only be considered for mixture composition with care.
The major group of admixtures are superplasticizers. The interaction with cement is typically identi-
cal for all types of superplasticizers. They consist of a negatively charged backbone, which adsorbs
on cement clinker phases and hydration products with positively charged zeta potentials [7]. The
dispersion mechanism of older generations of SP, such as lignosulphonate or poly naphthalene
condensates, works predominantly by electrostatic repulsion. The generation of polycarboxylate
ether SP (PCE) provides steric hindrance of particles as the major dispersion mechanism. The dif-
ferent ways of operation are illustrated in Figure 4. Taking the results of former studies of the author
into account [8], the African conditions would favour the use of PCE, and particularly modifications
with low backbone charge density. Due to their slow adsorption, they can well buffer workability
losses due to high temperatures. However, also lignosulphonates are a reasonable option, as they
are effective, cheap and well accessible. They became less popular in many European countries
due to their quick loss of performance, which made them element of uncertainty during the truck
transportation. As in Africa the common method is mixing on the construction site, this aspect can
be ignored. For the practical mixture composition, it should be considered to add them to the con-
crete at a late stage, as their dispersing force cannot be maintained for long time after addition and
as they are known to intercalate at early stage, which would yield significant performance losses or
uneconomically high dosages.

Figure 4: Electrostatic repulsion of particles (left) versus steric hindrance (right)

Another important group of relevance are retarders such as tartaric, citric or gluconic acid. Retard-
ers allow long transportation distances. They hence might be of high importance in many African
countries, where the network of ready mix plants is significantly less dense than e.g. in Europe.
Long distance transportation on the truck mixer might become increasingly necessary for large
scale concrete construction, where on site mixing is not an option. However, the use of retarders
should only be considered, when the cement quality is very homogenous and the performance of
SP is not affected.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Finally viscosity modifying agents (VMA) are admixtures with specific relevance for the African con-
ditions. They positively affect the water retention, thus avoiding shrinkage and uncontrolled loss of
water. However, in case SP is not available, they also allow modifying the rheology with water, with-
out bleeding or segregation. Typical examples of VMA are cellulose ether or starch ether. Simple
modifications make them cold water soluble and resistant against high pH values. Due to the defor-
estation problem in many East African countries, it is likely that instead of cellulose, starch ether
should be favoured. Many African countries produce large amounts of cassava. However, starch
can also be retrieved from potatoes, corn or other popular plants. According to former works of the
author, there is no critical influence of high temperatures on the performance of modified starch
Shrinkage compensating agents, typically surfactants, might play a minor role for standard applica-
tions. They mainly avoid autogenous shrinkage, which is particularly a thread to high performance
concrete. Air entraining agents are mainly used in order to provide frost resistance for concrete.
This might only be used for very special applications in some regions in sub-saharan Africa. Other
examples of admixtures, which are in use with concrete, are set accelerators, foaming and de-
foaming agents, or fibres. These however, are admixtures, which are in use for very special applica-
tions, mainly in the field of grout and repair mortar.

2.5 Aggregates
A good grading of aggregates is the key for good concrete quality. The influence of the particle and
grain size distribution has been subject to research since the first publications related to the topic
by Fuller and Thomson [10]. In 1907 already, Fuller and Thomson found out empirically that the best
compaction can be achieved, when the fines content follows an elliptic curve [10]. These findings
developed to the today well established fuller curve following the equation:
Ai = Sieve screening for a mesh size
Di = Particle diameter
Dmax = Maximum particle diameter of the mix
n = Allocative function (often n=0.5 is suggested)
The main focus of research during the recent years is put on the maximisation of the mechanical
properties and durability for highest possible performance. Considering the specific African condi-
tions, particularly the typical mixing on the construction site, however, ultimate performance of
concrete might be of significantly lower importance than robustness against influences of the ad-
verse conditions, such as scattering amounts of total water and cement. Varying delivery charges,
climatic changes during the day and storage conditions on the construction site yield total water
contents, which vary and which can neither be determined nor predicted easily. This, in addition,
demands for robust grading. Typically sand-rich grading curves can better absorb negative effects
of total water variations, and should be favoured, although a grading with high coarse aggregate
content can improve the mechanical properties.
In many regions in sub-saharan Africa the climate is characterised by high temperatures combined
with high relative humidity. These conditions and the use of natural pozzolans in cement and as
filler foster the occurrence of ASR, a chemical reaction from the high alkali content in the paste and
glassy phases of the aggregates (Figure 5). Opal and flint components in the aggregates can thus
cause serious damages in concrete constructions in presence of high temperature and humidity.
Concrete engineers in Africa should even more than anywhere in the world be aware of this risk and
adjust the mixture composition in a reasonable way.

Challenges of the African Environmental Conditions for Concrete Mixture Composition

Figure 5: Thin section (BAM) of concrete damaged by ASR

Lightweight concrete is getting more and more popular all over the world, as with improved cement
quality and enhanced paste mixture compositions, concrete strength and performance are less and
less depending upon the mechanical properties of the aggregate. East Africa provides a large ap-
pearance of pumice. Such material is not yet well investigated, although it can be estimated to
provide numerous benefits, particularly considering the African conditions. Due to the porous struc-
ture it will absorb high amounts of water counteracting shrinkage and uncontrolled diffusion of
water due to high temperatures, when aggregates are pre-wetted. Furthermore it can be assumed
to provide pozzolanic properties, which would enhance the bond between paste and aggregate.
Finally, lightweight aggregates reduce the heat conductivity, contributing to cooler indoor climate.
However, the hot and humid conditions are a thread to porous structures as they are breeding
grounds for fungi and vermin. Concrete mixture composition with pumice should thus always put
special emphasis into the density of the microstructure of the paste.

3. Mixture Composition According to Specifications

A classical approach to composing concrete mixtures mainly based on the system cement, water,
and aggregate, is firstly detecting the required water demand depending upon the specified con-
sistency and the aggregates’ properties. In some countries such curves are part of the national
standards or relevant guidelines, or they can be taken from literature (e.g. in Germany [11, 12, 13]).
Qualitative examples of such curves are presented in Figure 6.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Figure 6: Qualitative examples of relation curves between water demand and aggregates’ properties

Figure 7: Qualitative examples of relation curves between w/c

and compressive strength

After identification of the water demand, the water to cement ratio (w/c) can be estimated according
to the well known relation between w/c and compressive strength depending upon the particular
cement (Figure 7). In Germany, these values can be found in literature [12-14], however, comparable
relations are available in other countries and languages. The w/c and the resulting cement content
possibly need to be modified according to specific regulations. E.g. often exposition to chloride or
frost environment demands for minimum thresholds regarding w/c or cement content. After fixation
of the w/c, the air volume needs to be estimated. At good compaction and without air entraining
agent, 20 l is a reasonable assumption. Considering the calculation of the volume components for
one m³ of fresh concrete:
1000 [dm³] = VCement + V Water + VFillers + VAggregates + VAir = z/ρz + w/ρw + g/ρg + VAir,
the required mass of aggregate [kg/m³] calculates:
g = (1000 - z/ρz + w/ρw + VAir) x ρg
In case, fillers are part of the mixture concept, their amount needs to be specified. In many coun-
tries the total amount of powder components is limited, and sometimes special regulations apply
for reactive filler, such as fly ash or silica fume. The required aggregates content calculates accord-
ingly as:
g = (1000 - z/ρz + w/ρw + f/ρf + VAir) x ρg
In case the cement quality scattering is low, the applied correlation laws for strength, consistency
and w/c are reliable, and the air content estimation fits in with the real air volume after compaction,
the resulting concrete should provide the specified consistency and strength.

Challenges of the African Environmental Conditions for Concrete Mixture Composition

This approach, however, is rather static, and furthermore, the database for the correlation curves is
typically outdated, so that today’s technological achievements are not well represented. Modern
cement is very stable in its performance. Superplasticizers allow controlling the rheology without
modifying the water content and reducing the water content without negative influence on the rhe-
ology, respectively. Furthermore, the versatility of today’s blended cement cannot be implemented
adequately. Better understanding of the importance of the packing density and the interparticular
forces of the paste, today, theoretically allow high-performance concrete mixtures with only a min-
imum of cement. As a result, today, the properties of concrete can be adjusted individually accord-
ing to the specifications for the application. Some examples are given in Figure 8.

Figure 8: Examples of properties depending on the concrete application

Instead of approaching the concrete mixture composition from the aggregates’ properties, the mix-
ture can be generated starting from an optimised paste density and the total solids grading. Ce-
ment can for example be replaced stepwise by another fine powder component until the optimum
packing density is reached. Several methods are available to determine the maximum packing den-
sity, which is identical with the minimum water demand. A comprehensive overview of numerous
methods to determine this value is given by Hunger and Brouwers [15]. An optimised powder frac-
tion combined with a reasonable overall grading allows reducing cement significantly without per-
formance losses or even with improved properties. Hence, since systematic mixture composition
rules as described above can never cover the large range of different raw materials and their quali-
ties, opportunities and drawbacks, concrete mixture composition should rather be considered from
a specified performance point of view.

4. Mixture Composition Approaches for Africa

The most urgent structural needs in Africa are housing and infrastructure. Housing projects for two
to seven storey buildings typically do not demand for high performance concrete, however, in order
to build sustainably, a reliable concrete quality is required to avoid undesired strain in the structure.
Road construction also does not demand for high performance concrete but rather for early traffi-
cability, low cost but nevertheless long lasting durability. These specifications suggest a new ap-
proach to concrete technology in Africa and the rediscovery of largely forgotten techniques.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

4.1 Cementitious Pre-mix Compounds for Concrete for Structural Building

The major difference between African and e.g. European concrete construction is the location,
where concrete is mixed. Weighing of all concrete components on the construction site is prone to
errors. Typically, mixing on the construction site is not even conducted by help of a scale but only
by volumetric units (shovels, buckets, barrows), increasing the standard deviations of the concrete
performance. As the implementation of a dense network of ready-mix plants will take time, the situ-
ation will not change soon.
Then the hot climatic boundary conditions were identified as thread to a uniform concrete quality
and compactability. For robust casting of concrete at high temperatures, superplasticizer improve
the robustness of the performance, VMA can be additionally used in order to avoid segregation and
uncontrolled diffusion of water. The handling of these on the construction site, however, is delicate
and requires high skills and long term experiences with plasticized concrete.
It would thus be a reasonable option to develop binder compounds, which already include cement,
well adjusted fines and admixtures as required. These only need to be amended by water and ag-
gregates. A good adjustment of fines could absorb the influence of varying aggregate types and
size distributions. An example for such a binder compound including cement, fillers, superplasti-
cizer and supplementary admixtures is described by Schmidt et al. [16]. In order to demonstrate the
robustness of such a binder pre-mix compound for self-compacting concrete in practice, a so-
called “idiot-proof test” was initiated. An extremely wide range of different aggregate gradings was
given to five unskilled test persons (Person 1-5) with the task to cast concrete by adding water and
the pre-mix compound. The test persons were left alone and they were free to use a scale or volu-
metric units for weighing. The grading variations are shown in Figure 9. Although the fresh proper-
ties of self-compacting concrete are generally delicate to handle and although each test person
mastered the challenge quite differently, the variation of results for both, fresh and hardened con-
crete properties are well acceptable (Figure 10).

Figure 9: Grading curves varied in the “idiot-proof test” to prove

the effect of a pre-mixed binder compound [16].

Challenges of the African Environmental Conditions for Concrete Mixture Composition

Figure 10: Variations due to varied grading curves and personnel in slump flow (left) and compressive
strength after 28 days.

Such a concept could reduce significantly quality fluctuations due to limited mixing facilities, while
it would additionally open a regional market segment, the blending of pre-mixed compounds, for
the local industries.

4.2 Roller Compacted Concrete, an Option to Accelerate Africa’s Infrastructural Build-up

The second area of challenge for the African construction industry is the infrastructure. The increas-
ing markets in many African countries demand for many new roads to connect the important cities
and trade knots. These might be several hundreds of kilometres apart. In other countries, which
exhibit comparable infrastructural needs, namely long interurban distances, roller compacted con-
crete RCC had been considered as a reasonable choice to either quickly and cost-effectively build
roads and dams. In terms of planeness, RCC cannot compete with bituminous road constructions,
however, it provides high resistance against static and dynamic loads, abrasion and chemical at-
tacks. RCC typically consists of the same components as normal concrete but the mixture compo-
sition is rather based on soil-mechanical considerations. Green strength is very high, so that con-
structions with RCC can be rapidly put under load after casting. RCC is placed by help of typical
equipment used for road construction. Mounting volumes and casting rates are very cost effective.
Typical design strengths for RCC may vary depending on the cement content between 15 and
40 MPa.
RCC mixture compositions normally contain low cement contents. The powder content is typically
increased by supplementary use of rock powders. The total fines content is rather high (>450 kg/
m³) in order to provide the required green strength. Due to the low cement contents, optimised
compactability due to high water contents often outweighs the negative effect of the high w/c.
Studies by Nanni [17] showed that crushed powders and marginal powders can significantly im-
prove the properties. It is suggested that grading curves should be dominated by large amounts of
coarse aggregates. Tatro and Hinds [18] suggest grading curves with significantly higher coarse
contents than the Fuller parabola would suggest, while Marchand et al. [19] propose a Fuller curve
with an exponent of 0.45 (Figure 11). In case of dam construction, RCC is often constructed with
large aggregates, however, according to Marchand et al. and the German bulletin for RCC for road
construction [20], for load-bearing surface layers, the maximum grain size should be limited to
16 mm.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Figure 11: Suggested aggregate grading curves for RCC

according to [18, 19]

The major strengths of RCC are low costs and very quick construction with high durability and low
maintenance costs. These parameters highly suggest RCC for interurban road constructions
through a continent featuring the geographical and infrastructural boundary conditions of Africa.

5. Conclusions
Concrete construction has no long lasting tradition in most African countries, as a result, the infra-
structure for building with concrete is no well developed. Typically mixing of concrete in most Afri-
can countries is conducted on the construction site, which is prone to human errors. Furthermore,
the climatic conditions can cause uncontrolled water losses and poor workability retention. Hence
highest priority in mixture composition has to be given to the robustness of a mixture, in order to
make sure that even at varying ambient conditions a steady concrete quality is placed. It is there-
fore suggested to favour a moderate grading curve of the aggregates over a performance optimised
curve. In order to uncouple the workability of concrete from the water content, the use of superplas-
ticizer should be taken into consideration. Africa offers a high amount of raw materials, which pro-
vide potential to improve concrete quality, such as bagasse ash or natural pozzolans. These need
to be subject of intensive future research.
The major future challenges for the concrete construction industry are housing and infrastructure.
In order to overcome drawbacks of the unavailability of ready-mix plants, it is suggested to develop
binder compounds including cement, fillers and admixtures for specified concrete properties, which
only need to be amended on the construction site by aggregates and water. In order to quickly de-
velop interurban infrastructure, the use of roller compacted concrete should be given special con-

6. References
[1] Müller, U.; Bürgisser, P.; Weise, F.; Meng, B. (2010): The natural pozzolana ‘Rhenish trass’
and its effect on ASR in concrete. In Sixth International Conference on Concrete under
Severe Conditions, Environment & Loading - CONSEC10. Mérida, Mexico, pp. 313-320.
[2] Schmidt, W.; Ramge, P.; Kühne, H.-C. (2009): Effect of the storage conditions of cement on
the processing and hardening properties of concrete, Concrete Plant + Precast Technology,
vol. 06, pp. 10-17.

Challenges of the African Environmental Conditions for Concrete Mixture Composition

[3] Zahlen und Daten 2009-2010, Bundesverband der Deutschen Zementindustrie e. V.

[4] M. Schneider, M. Romer, M. Tschudin, H. Bolio, Sustainable cement production – present
and future, Cement and Concrete Research, Volume 41, 7, July 2011, pp. 642-650.
[5] Paula, G.; Souza C. A.; Aguilar, M. T. (2011): Physical-Chemical Characteristics of Cane
Bagasse Ashes used in the manufacturing of concretes, 13th International Congress on the
Chemistry of Cement, Madrid, Spain.
[6] Schöne, S.; Dienemann, W.; Wagner, E. (2011): Portland Dolomite Cement as Alternative to
Portland Dolomite Cement, 13th International Congress on the Chemistry of Cement,
Madrid, Spain.
[7] Plank, J.; Hirsch, Ch. (2007): Impact of zeta potential of early cement hydration phases on
superplasticizer adsorption, Cement and Concrete Research 37, pp. 537-542
[8] Schmidt, W.; Brouwers, H. J. H.; Kühne, H.-C.; Meng, B. (2010): Effects of Superplasticizer
and Viscosity-Modifying Agent on Fresh Concrete Performance of SCC at Varied Ambient
Temperatures, in Khayat, K. H. and Feys, D. (Eds.) Design, Production and Placement of
Self-Consolidating Concrete - Proceedings of SCC2010, Montreal, Canada, September
26-29, 2010. Springer.
[9] Schmidt, W.; Kühne, H.-C.; Meng, B. (2010): Temperature related effects on self-consolidat-
ing concrete due to interactions between superplasticizers, supplemental admixtures and
additions, in Malhotra, V. M. (Ed.) 9th ACI International Conference on Superplasticizers and
Other Chemical Admixtures – Supplementary Papers, Seville, Spain.
[10] Fuller, W. B. and Thomson, S.E. (1907): The laws of proportioning concrete, Transactions of
the American society of civil engineers, vol. 59, pp. 67-172.
[11] Bonzel, J. and Dahms, J. (1978): Über den Wasseranspruch des Frischbetons. beton 9/78,
S. 331-336; beton 10/78, S. 362-367; beton 11/78, pp. 413-416.
[12] Betontechnische Daten 2009, HeidelbergCement AG.
[13] Grübl, P.; Weigler, H.; Karl, S. (2001): Beton – Arten, Herstellung und Eigenschaften,
2. Auflage, Ernst & Sohn.
[14] Walz, K.: Anleitung für die Zusammensetzung und Herstellung von Beton mit bestimmten
Eigenschaften; Beton- und Stahlbetonbau, Sonderdruck, Jhg. 53, Heft 6, 1958, pp. 163-169.
[15] Hunger, M. And Brouwers, H.J.H. (2009): Flow analysis of water-powder mixtures: Applica-
tion to specific surface area and shape factor, Cement and Concrete Composites 31,
pp. 39-59.
[16] Schmidt, W. ; Meng, B.; Kühne, H.-C.; Rosignoli, D. (2008): Development and application of a
novel ready-made compound including additions and admixtures for the easy production of
SCC, Betonwerk + Fertigteil-Technik, pp. 4-11.
[17] Nanni, A. (1998): Limestone Crusher-Run and Tailings in Compaction Concrete for Pavement
Applications, ACI Materials Journal 5-6, pp. 158-163.
[18] Tatro, S.; Hinds, J.K. (1992): Roller Compacted Concrete Mix Design, Proceedings of the
Conference sponsored by the Construction, Geotechnical engineering and Materials
Engineering Division of the American Society of Civil engineers, Sand Diego, California,
pp. 323-340.
[19] Marchand, J.; Gagné, R.; Ouellet, E.; Lepage, S. (1997): Mixture Proportioning of roller
Compacted Concrete – A Review, American Concrete Institute, ACI SP-171, pp. 457-486.
[20] Zement-Merkblatt Straßenbau S6, 9.2001, „Walzbeton für Tragschichten und Tragdeck-

Cement and Concrete for Africa

From Prescriptive Towards Performance-based Durability Design

of Concrete
Dubravka Bjegovic1,2, Irina Stipanovic Oslakovic1,3, Marijana Serdar2
Institut IGH d.d., Croatia
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Croatia
University of Twente, Construction Management and Engineering Dept., The Netherlands

Durability of a structure is defined as its ability to preserve functionality, stability and aesthetic
properties under expected environmental influences without larger maintenance and repair costs
during designed service life. With the requirements of 100-year design service life for major bridge
structures and enormous rehabilitation and repair costs associated with inability to satisfy these
requirements, durability of civil engineering structures is today one of the key problems of struc-
tures worldwide.
In this paper two main levels of durability design are presented: prescriptive and performance-
based design. Prescriptive durability design is based on set of empirical rules, which need to be
followed to assure required service life. The major difficulty with prescriptive design lays in the com-
pliance procedure, since it is almost impossible to perform effective control of most of the pre-
scribed limiting values. Performance-based design is based on durability indicators, which are
prescribed in the design phase, tested during prequalification testing, used in service life models
and tested during construction as a part of quality control on site.

1. Introduction
Numerous cases of damaged reinforced concrete structures worldwide evidence the lack of ade-
quate guidelines for durability design. Durability problems cover a wide range of degradation mech-
anisms, including attack by external aggressive environments such as chlorides or sulphates, and
by internal material incompatibilities such as alkali-aggregate reaction. The severity of the environ-
mental influence on concrete depends on the properties of concrete and its exposure conditions.
The crucial part of the concrete is the concrete cover layer, which acts as a physical and chemical
barrier, protecting the inner concrete and reinforcement from degradation. This layer is the most
exposed to the environmental influences, and is, at the same time, the most affected by any poor
workmanship during placing, compacting or curing. Durability of concrete is therefore largely con-
trolled by the quality of this concrete cover layer. Since the importance of the concrete cover has
been recognised, there is a significant effort to highlight this importance through standards, guide-
lines and recommendations from Technical committees, all as a part of durability design of con-
crete structures.
Now days, durability design of concrete structures could be divided into two main levels:
– Prescriptive durability design, covered by EN 206 [1], and
– Performance – based durability design as described in Model Code 2010 [2], based on service
life modeling either deterministic, semi-probabilistic or full probabilistic approach.
Two main levels and two sublevels with approaches towards durability design are shown in Figure
1 [3]. Moving from right hand side, levels of durability design are becoming more complex but at the
same time more precise in predicting service life of concrete structures. Avoidance of deterioration
and deem-to-satisfy method are prescriptive design approaches, mostly based on a set of rules for
dimensioning, material and product selection and execution procedures. By following these rules,
as a cookbook, one ensures that the structure will achieve a service life of 50 years if concrete

From Prescriptive Towards Performance-based Durability Design of Concrete

structure or component is exposed to the loading considered in the design. Performance based
design approach, on the other side, demands understanding of physical deterioration processes in
reinforced concrete, and factors affecting and resisting them. Probabilistic methods are used in the
civil engineering practice for calculation of bearing capacity and stability of structures and their use
is standardised and accepted. Nowadays same methods are being applied to calculation of dura-
bility and service life of reinforced concrete structures under aggressive environment.

Figure 1: Different levels of durability design [3]

2. Prescriptive Durability Design

The prescriptive design approach for durability design presents a practical concept for durability
design, given in EN 206-1 [1] and EN 1990 [4]. The improvements comparing to the previous Model
Code 1990 [5] are in the classification of the environment in which the structure will be used during
the required life with acceptable levels of maintenance. Prescriptive design usually covers the is-
sues given in Figure 2, with particular attention to aspects such as: mix design (maximum water to
cement ratio and minimum cement content), minimum concrete cover, see Table 1, depending on
the environmental conditions. But, the prescriptive approach ignores, to a large extent, the different
performance of different cement types and of the minerals addition to the cement or to the con-
The main assumption of the prescriptive durability design approach is that if these rules are met,
the structure will achieve a service life of 50 years. These prescribed values are the only framework
for decision making during design of durability. In the prequalification phase concrete mixture is
decided mainly upon compressive strength, which is during construction controlled on laboratory
cured specimens, Figure 2.
Deficiency of the prescriptive durability design approach is that durability properties are prescribed
on the basis of requirements for constitutive materials, construction and curing without prescribing
exact property, testing method and limiting values for specific material properties. No calculation
procedure is defined if longer service life is required. This applies especially for structures with an
intended long service life like infrastructures. Moreover, the prescriptive approach ignores the dif-
ferent performance of different cement types and of the minerals addition to the cement or to the
concrete. It also cannot be used for new materials, (e.g. new cement types, new steel types, non-
steel reinforcement), new types of structures or new environments [6].

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Table 1: Recommended limiting values for composition and properties of concrete for selected environ-
ment clasess [1]

Min. Min. mass Min. concrete

Exposure Max. w/c
Description of class strength of cement cover, c + Δc
class ratio (mm) [6]
class (kg/m3)
No risk of corrosion
Concrete without reinforcement or embed-
ded metal (all exposures except freeze/thaw,
X0 - C 20/25 - -
abrasion or chemical attack) - Concrete
inside buildings with very low air humidity.
Corrosion induced by carbonation
Dry or permanently wet - Concrete inside
XC 1 buildings with low air humidity, concrete 0.65 C 25/30 260 20 + 10
permanently submerged in water
Wet, rarely dry - Concrete surfaces subject to
XC 2 0.60 C 30/37 280 35 + 15
long-term water contact, many foundations
Moderate humidity - Concrete inside building
XC 3 with moderate or high air humidity, external 0.55 C 30/37 280 35 + 15
concrete sheltered from rain
Cyclic wet and dry - Concrete surfaces
XC 4 subject to water contact, not within exposure 0.50 C 30/37 300 40 + 15
class XC2
Corrosion induced by chlorides other than from see water
Moderate humidity - Concrete surfaces
XD 1 0.55 C 30/37 300
exposed to airborne chlorides
XD 2 Wet, rarely dry – e.g. swimming pools 0.55 C 30/37 300
55 + 15
Cyclic wet and dry - Parts of bridges expo-
XD 3 sed to spray containing chlorides, e.g. car 0.45 C 35/45 320
park slabs
Corrosion induced by chlorides from sea water
Exposed to airborne salt but not in direct
XS 1 contact with sea water - Structures near to or 0.50 C 30/37 300
on the coast
Permanently submerged - Parts of marine 55 + 15
XS 2 0.45 C 35/45 320
Tidal, splash and spray zones - Parts of
XS 3 0.45 C 35/45 340
marine structures
Freeze/thaw attack
Moderate water saturation, without de-icing
XF 1 0.55 C 30/37 300
Moderate water saturation, with de-icing
XF 2 0.55 C 25/30 300
agent 55 + 15
XF 3 High water saturation, without de-icing agent 0.50 C 30/37 320
High water saturation, with de-icing agent or
XF 4 0.45 C 30/37 340
sea water
Chemical attack
XA1 Slightly aggressive chemical environment 0.55 C30/37 300
XA2 Moderately aggressive chemical environment 0.50 C30/37 320 55 + 15
XA3 Highly aggressive chemical environment 0.45 C35/45 360

From Prescriptive Towards Performance-based Durability Design of Concrete

Premature loss in durability of structures is mainly caused by poor quality of construction. Quality
assurance and quality control on site are therefore recognised as a precedent step in achieving
designed quality and durability of concrete. The major difficulty with prescriptive design lays in the
compliance procedure, when it is necessary to assure that the quality of prepared concrete is equal
to that of the prescribed. All requirements are considering constituting materials in a prescriptive
manner and it is impossible to perform effective control of w/c ratio and cement content in practice.
The routine control is based on testing the specimens for the compressive strength, which are
cured in laboratory conditions and do not represent the real quality of concrete cover. Furthermore,
sampling, placing and compacting of the laboratory specimens differs from the concreting method
applied on site. Testing laboratory specimens ignores the effect of concrete method on the proper-
ties of concrete.

Figure 2: Procedure during prescriptive durability design of concrete

As shown in Figure 2, practical problem can be experienced after the construction has been fin-
ished, when the test results (28 days after pouring) are actually analysed, if the required properties
are not met, usually based on compressive strength or some other mechanical properties. Costs of
repair works which then usually imply strengthening or removal of concrete cover and adding new
concrete, are exponentially increasing comparing to the cost of the initial concrete. Usual problem
is also from a practical and legal point of view, whose responsibility is then this failure and who will
pay penalties.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

3. Performance Based Durability Design

Performance-based approach to the durability design of reinforced concrete structures means that
it is based on durability indicators like materials parameters, measured on laboratory and on site
specimens, and geometrical characteristic of cross section of reinforced concrete element, as
shown in Figure 3. These durability parameters (e.g. chloride diffusion coefficient, gas permeability,
water permeability, capillary absorption coefficient, porosity) and geometrical characteristic of
cross section (e.g. concrete cover depth) are some of the input parameters for service life design
models and for quality assurance model.
Durability indicators of concrete are fundamental in evaluating and predicting the durability of the
material and service life of structure. They are prescribed during design of concrete structures,
tested during prequalification testing, used in service life models and tested during construction as
a part of quality control on site. They must be quantifiable by laboratory tests in a reproducible
manner and with clearly defined test procedures. Nowadays, many testing procedures for perform-
ing permeability properties tests on concrete are standardized or being already used for longer
period, and proved to have satisfactory precision. [7-12]

Figure 3: Main concept of performance based quality control in

a real structure [8]

During performance based design procedure the designer has to specify required values of durabil-
ity indicators for the achievement of design service life of the structure, that the contractor needs to
satisfy before the concrete is accepted for the application in the structure. In the specification of
requested material the tests procedure should be adopted together with the acceptance criteria
and the level of testing expected for the project. This information are recorder and followed during
compliance testing. In quality assurance procedure, performance-based quality control provide the
means to evaluate the quality of the as-built structure and that the design specifications have been
met. In order to compare the in-situ concrete quality to the design specification, the same test
methods must be used for design and quality control, Figure 4 [10, 13]. The as-built condition of the
structure is recorded in the ‘birth certificate’ of the structure, as an integral part of testing on the
occasion of acceptance of structure.
Performance-based design approaches have the advantage that the influence of various mix con-
stituents can directly be assessed. Testing the specific concrete in the design stage therefore al-
lows an optimization between mix design properties and cover depth specifications [10]. Quality
control during construction is performed on laboratory specimens, but also on site, with the same
methods prescribed in the design phase and used during prequalification phase, as shown in Fig-
ure 4. This way real in-situ performance of concrete is assessed and aging factor for concrete
properties may be determined.

From Prescriptive Towards Performance-based Durability Design of Concrete

The key for successful implementation of performance-based design, are well established and
standardized limiting values and methods of testing specific concrete properties. It is also neces-
sary to establish link between properties required specific environmental class and required service
life of a structure. Most of the efforts from researchers and designers are nowadays targeted at this
issue [8 - 17].

Figure 4: Procedure during performance based design

In 2007 French Association of Civil Engineering (Association Francaise de Genie Civil, AFGC) has
published a “Guide for the implementation of a predictive performance approach based upon du-
rability indicators”. In Table 2 are presented recommended limiting values for concrete durability
indicators (concrete porosity Pwater, water permeability Kliq, gas permeability Kgas and non-steady
state chloride migration coefficient Dapp(mig)) for different exposure classes [14]. The values indi-
cated in the Table 2 correspond to measurements performed in accordance with the standardized
testing methods on test specimens water-cured for three months after casting and as mean values
of at least 3 test specimens [14, 15].
Similar efforts have resulted in the development of The South African Durability Index (DI) method,
which also uses durability indicators prescribed for a given environmental classes [10, 16]. Promo-
tion of Durability Index method through researchers and designers, as well as governmental agen-
cies, resulted in inclusion of this method in most national infrastructural construction projects. Du-
rability indexing is based on the oxygen permeability index (OPI), chloride conductivity test and
sorptivity of concrete, with concrete classification presented in Table 3.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Table 2. Durability parameters and limit values for specific exposure class [14]

Required service life / Structure category

Exposure classes From 50 to 100 years / From 100 to 120 years /
Building & civil engineering structures Large structures

Pwater< 12 %
X0 and XC1 Pwater< 14 %
Kgas< 100 × 10-18 m2
Pwater< 12 %
XC2 Pwater< 14 %
Kgas< 100 × 10-18 m2
Pwater< 12 % Pwater< 9 %
Kgas< 100 × 10-18 m2 Kgas< 10 × 10-18 m2
Pwater< 9 %
Pwater< 12 %
XC4 Kgas< 10 × 10-18 m2
Kliq< 0,1 × 10-18 m2
Kliq< 0,01 × 10-18 m2
Pwater< 9 %
Pwater< 11 %
Dapp(mig)< 1 × 10-12 m2/s
XS1 Dapp(mig)< 2 × 10-12 m2/s
Kgas< 10 × 10-18 m2
Kliq< 0,1 × 10-18 m2
Kliq< 0,01 × 10-18 m2
Pwater< 13 % Pwater< 12 %
Dapp(mig)< 7 × 10-12 m2/s Dapp(mig)< 5 × 10-12 m2/s
Pwater< 10 %
Pwater< 11 %
Dapp(mig)< 2 × 10-12 m2/s
XS3 Dapp(mig)< 3 × 10-12 m2/s
Kgas< 100 × 10-18 m2
Kliq< 0,1 × 10-18 m2
Kliq< 0,05 × 10-18 m2
Pwater is concrete porosity, acording to EN 12390-7:2001.
Kliq is water permeability in laboratory, according to EN 12390-8:2001,
Kgas is gas permeability in laboratory, according to EN 993-4:1995,
Dapp(mig) is chloride migration test, according to NT BUILD 492:1999

Table 3. Durability classes and limit values of Durability Indexes [12]

OPI Sorptivity Conductivity

Durability class
(log scale) (mm/h 0,5) (mS/cm)
Excellent >10,0 <6 < 0,75
Good 9,5 – 10,0 6 – 10 0,75 – 1,50
Poor 9,0 – 9,5 10 – 15 1,50 – 2,50
Very poor < 9,0 >15 >2,50

Most of these limiting values are still given as deterministic values. As concrete is an inherently
variable product, it is very important that the criteria nominated are set and assessed on a statisti-
cal basis that balances the clients risk of accepting defective concrete, against the suppliers risk of
having compliant concrete rejected. Limiting values for durability indicators should ideally be based
on a probabilistic approach. The environmental load is also a non-deterministic value, since the
values may increase in time (e.g. due to chloride accumulation). The time dependency of the resist-
ance is an expression of the degradation of the materials properties and aging factor of concrete.
With probabilistic approach service-life design would be based on time-dependent formulation of
resistance variables, variables describing the environment and variables describing limiting values
[18]. Example of this effort can be found in The Netherlands, where in 2003 was developed the per-
formance and probability based guideline for the designing durable civil engineering structures with
the service lives up to 200 years [19].

From Prescriptive Towards Performance-based Durability Design of Concrete

4. Conclusion
The concept of reinforced concrete durability started to develop only twenty-five years ago, when
it became obvious that reinforced concrete could have serious durability problems, especially when
exposed to the actions of aggressive environment. The approach to the design of reinforced con-
crete structures that takes into consideration durability issues is still to most extend empirical. In
this paper two approaches to durability design are presented: prescriptive and performance-based
design. Prescriptive approach is based on the set of rules, and by following these rules one ensures
that the structure will achieve a service life of 50 years. Performance-based approach is based on
durability indicators like materials properties measured on laboratory specimens and on site and
geometrical characteristic of cross section of reinforced concrete element. The key for successful
implementation of performance-based design are well established and standardized limiting values
and methods of testing specific concrete properties. On the basis of the values measured on the
‘real’ structure more accurate calculations can be made of the expected service life of the structure.
In addition, protective measures could be also timely prescribed if the measured values were below
those designed.

5. References
[1] EN 206-1: 2000: Concrete - Part 1: Specification, performance, production and conformity.
[2] fib Bulletin 55: Model Code 2010 - First complete draft, Volume 1, 2010.
[3] fib Bulletin 34: Model Code for Service Life Design, 2006.
[4] EN 1990:2002 Eurocode - Basis of structural design.
[5] CEB-FIB Model Code 1990 (1993): Bulletin d´information 213/214. Lausanne, Switzerland,
May 1993.
[6] Siemes, T.: History of Service Life Design of Concrete Structures, Workshop “Design of
Durability of Concrete”, Duranet, Berlin, 1999, 19-27.
[7] Romer, M. Recommendation of RILEM TC 189-NEC “Non-destructive evaluation of the
concrete cover”: Comparative test - Part I: Comparative test of ‘penetrability’ methods,
Materials and Structures Volume 38, Issue 284, 2005, 895 – 906.
[8] RILEM TC 178-NEC, Non-destructive evaluation of the penetrability and thickness of the
concrete cover, State-of-the-Art Report, May 2007.
[9] RILEM TC 230-PSC: Performance-based specifications and control of concrete durability
[10] Beushausen, H, Alexander, M.: The South African performance-based approach for specifi-
cation and control of concrete durability, Proceedings of Performance based Specifications
for Concrete, Editors: Frank Dehn, Hans Beushausen, Leipzig, June 2011, 301 – 311.
[11] Andrade, C.: Types of Models Service Life of Reinforcement: The Case of the Resistivity,
Concrete Research letters, Vol. 1[2] – June 2010, 73 – 80.
[12] Polder, R., Andrade, C., Elsener, B., Vennesland, Ø., Gulikers, J., Weidert, R., Raupach, M.:
Test methods for on site measurement of resistivity of concrete, Materials and Structures,
2000, Volume 33, Number 10, 603-611.
[13] Mayer, T.F., Schiessl, P. Life cycle management of concrete structures Pat I: Birth certificate,
Concrete Repair, Rehabilitation and Retrofitting II / Alexander, M.G. Beushausen, H.D. ;
Dehn, F. ; Moyo, P. London, UK : Taylor & Francis Group, 2008.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

[14] Baroghel-Bouny, V. et al. Concrete design for a given structure service life, Scientific and
technical document, Guide for the implementation of a predictive performance approach
based upon durability indicators, AFGC, 2007.
[15] Baroghel-Bouny, V., Wang, X., Thiéry, M.: Performance-based Assessment of Durability and
Prediction of RC Structure Service Life by Means of Durability Indicators – The Case Of
Chloride Ingress, Proceedings of Performance based Specifications for Concrete, Editors:
Frank Dehn, Hans Beushausen, Leipzig, June 2011, 330 – 340.
[16] Beushausen, H., Alexander, M.: Performance – Based Service Life Design of Reinforced
Concrete Structures Using Durability Indicators, Manuscript number 104, pp 8.
[17] Monteiro, A. V., Gonçalves, A. F. Assessment of Concrete Cover in Structures, Part 1 – Sta-
tistical Tolerance Analysis Approach, Proceedings of Performance based Specifications for
Concrete, Editors: Frank Dehn, Hans Beushausen, Leipzig, June 2011, 220 – 229.
[18] Bjegović, D.; Mikulić, D.; Stipanović Oslaković, I.; Serdar, M. Performance based durability
design of coastal reinforced concrete structures // MWWD & IEMES 2008 Proceedings,
2008. 68-69.
[19] Polder, R. B, van der Wegen, G., van Breugel, K.: Guideline for Service Life Design of Struc-
tural Concrete – A Performance – based Approach with Regard to Chloride Induced Corro-
sion, Proceedings of Performance based Specifications for Concrete, Editors: Frank Dehn,
Hans Beushausen, Leipzig, June 2011, 25 – 34.

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology

John K. Makunza
University of Dar es Salaam, Department of Structural and Construction Engineering, Tanzania

There are different types of shelters which include multi-stories buildings, bungalows and others.
An adequate shelter is a basic human need, yet about 80 % of the rural population in developing
countries still live in spontaneous low quality settlements, as they cannot afford the high cost of
building materials which could produce better shelters. One alternative for the expensive materials
is to use low cost housing technology. The technology uses the available soil on site, which is sta-
bilized with a small amount of cement with or without lime depending on the characteristics of the
soil so as to improve the engineering properties of the produced bricks.
This paper discusses on a study done on low cost housing technology that is environment friendly.
The study was done by assessing the engineering properties of soil, as well as the stabilized soil
bricks. The bricks were of two categories, namely solid bricks and voided bricks where by the in-
ternal voids were made by inclusion of plastic bottles. The study was concentrated on cheap lo-
cally available materials which can result into, adequate compressive strength of both the bricks
and walls and have low water absorption. The study was done through site visits, sampling of soils,
performing various field and laboratory tests on the soil as well as on the bricks.
The test results obtained from both field and laboratory tests have revealed that natural soils with
40 to 55 % silt plus clay content are suitable materials for producing good quality stabilized soil
bricks which meet the minimum requirements of BS 5628 Part 1 of 2.8 N/mm2 and are 50 % cheap-
er when compared to the cement-sand blocks. Therefore these stabilized soil bricks can be used
for the construction of strong low cost houses.
Key words: Less cement, No felling of trees, Disposal of plastic bottles, increases economy and
heat insulation.

1. Introduction
From the human rights point of view, every human being has the right to live in a good quality house
or shelter. The houses are supposed to meet at least the minimum acceptable quality standards,
such as sufficient air circulation, durability and strength. Houses can be built from varieties of ma-
terials like timber, masonry; stones, burnt bricks, cement-sand blocks, concrete, etc. In developing
countries, where most people have low income, the common materials such as timber, cement-
sand blocks and concrete are not affordable due to the high costs involved with. However, there are
few people who can afford to have burnt bricks houses, and very few can afford cement-sand
blocks and concrete constructions. Some people if properly guided are able to build better houses
by improving mud brick houses such as the one shown in Figure 1.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Figure 1: House constructed of mud-walls and roofed with iron sheets

But most people in developing countries are still using mud and interwoven timber and bamboo
daubed with mud to build their houses as indicated in Figure 2. In some cases mud bricks are used
to build the walls which sometimes may be plastered with cement-sand plaster. Such houses are
sometimes vulnerable to weather as during rain season, the rainwater wets the mud walls, a condi-
tion which is not healthy for the occupants. On the other hand, the walling soil material can expand
and loose cohesiveness, especially with wooden poles or cement plaster, and crack and the ce-
ment plaster can delaminate and fall-down as shown in Figure 3. From observation and interviews,
it has been learnt that thieves can easily chop-out some bricks or part of the mud wall and break-in
and steal. Therefore the houses are not safe and are less reliable. Some of the said houses are
shown in Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4.

This study has been carried out with the

objective of assessing the strength prop-
erties of stabilized soil bricks. The bricks
were of two groups, where by the first one
was composed of solid bricks, and the
second group had bricks in which each
one contained an internal void made by
inclusion of a plastic bottle of 0.5 litre. The
included bottle was originally used to keep
drinking water, and was then supposed to
be disposed away. The inclusion of plastic
bottles in the bricks accounted for reduc-
tion of material to save cost, to enhance
thermal insulation and finally as one way
of disposing the bottles since they are just
Figure 2: Wooden poles and mud walled house
thrown away without any proper method
of disposing. The study was mainly concerned with testing and evaluating the characteristics of
soils, stabilized soil bricks and wall specimens.

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology

Figure 3: House built of non-stabilized soil


The methodology adopted in carrying out the study included the following:
– Site visits and sampling of soil material,
– Laboratory tests on the soil, and results analysis for determining the characteristics and adequa-
cy of the soil.
– Collecting the plastic bottles
– Mixing the materials; soil plus cement plus a reasonable amount of water
– Production of the bricks both solids and those which included embedded bottles

Figure 4: Pure soil brick-wall in which part of the

cement plaster has fallen away

2. Reviews on Soils
Soil is a natural product of weathering and mechanical disintegration of rocks that forms the crust
of the earth. Different types of soil include;
– Residual soil
– Sedimentary soil
– Volcanic soil
– Organic soil
Soil is made up of varying proportions of four types of materials depending on the grainsize name-
ly: gravel, sand, silt and clay. Each of these soils has a different characteristic way. Soil particle

Cement and Concrete for Africa

sizes can approximately be divided into four groups according to the diameter of the grains, thus:
– Gravel - these are soil particles bigger than 2mm.
– Sand - these are soil particles smaller than 2mm but bigger than 0.06mm.
– Silt - these are soil particles smaller than 0.06mm but bigger than 0.002mm.
– Clay - these are soil particles smaller than 0.002mm.
The proportion in which each type of material is present, will determine the behavior and properties
of the resulting soil.

2.1 Properties of Soil

Soil properties change from one soil to another depending on the nature of the particles fraction
making them up and the complex way in which they mix together. One can distinguish between
chemical properties, which are linked to the presence of salts, oxides and sulphates, and physical
properties, which are numerous including colour, structural stability, adhesion, apparent dry den-
sity, moisture content, absorption capacity, capillary potential and range, permeability, linear shrink-
age, dry strength, porosity and many more. Understanding the chemical and physical properties of
the soil enables one to define the quality and performance of soil for building purposes. It is impor-
tant to have a thorough grasp of at least three fundamental properties, which are the texture or
particle size distribution, plasticity, and compressibility of the soil.

2.2 Texture or Particle Size Distribution

This is measured by particle size analysis for the coarse fraction (gravels, sand and silts) and by
sedimentation analysis for the fine fraction. Gravels and sands give the material strength while clays
bind it together and silt fulfills a less clear intermediate function.

2.3 Plasticity
Plasticity defines the extent to which a soil can be distorted without any significant elastic reaction.
The plasticity of soil as well as the limits between different states of consistency is defined by meas-
uring the “Atterberg limits”. The point at which the material passes from plastic to liquid state is
known as liquid limit (LL). The point at which it passes from plastic to solid state is known as plastic
limit (PL). At LL, the soil begins to display some resistance to shearing. At PL the soil ceases to be
plastic and becomes crumbly. The plasticity index (PI), which is equal to LL- PL, determines the
extent of the plastic behavior of the soil. A combination of LL and PL defines the sensitivity of the
soil to variations in moisture content.

2.4 Compressibility
The compressibility of a soil defines its maximum capacity to be compressed for a given amount of
compaction energy at given optimum moisture content. When a force is applied to the soil, the soil
material is compressed in which the proportion of the voids decreases. The more the density of the
soil can be increased the lower its porosity will be. Moisture content must not be too high. “The
Proctor test” shows the relationship between optimum moisture content and optimum dry density
for a given amount of compaction energy.

2.5 Soil Stabilization

In many developing countries especially in rural areas, soil is used for the construction of houses.
Natural compacted soil has good insulation and fire resistant properties [1]. It is, however, vulnera-
ble to moisture and the erosive effects of weather. Walls constructed out of soil, if well compacted

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology

have adequate compressive strength under dry conditions; however they will loose their strength
under adverse moisture movement. Alternating wetting and drying will erode and deteriorate the
walls. Soil durability and strength can also be improved by:
(i) Improving the distribution of grain sizes or grading
(ii) Compacting the soil;
(iii) Adding stabilizers or chemicals;
Any soil can be improved and used as a building material for various types of structures by adding
stabilizing materials, and the product is called stabilized soil. A properly stabilized, consolidated,
well-graded soil that is adequately moisturized, mixed, and cured will provide a strong, stable, wa-
terproof and long-lasting building bricks. Stabilizer material in the soil will perform the following;
(i) bind the soil particles together making the product stronger [2]
(ii) water proofing – reducing the amount of voids and water which can be absorbed by the soil
(iii) reducing the shrinkage and swelling properties of soil
(iv) increase the tensile strength of soil.
When a stabilizing material is added to the soil, it increases the engineering properties of the soil
and so the bricks and life span of the resulting structure considerably. Different types of soil may
require different types of stabilizers. The common stabilizer materials include cement, lime, a com-
bination of lime and cement, and a combination of lime and pozzolanas. Sometimes, burning clay
bricks is considered as stabilizing the bricks. Following are the most common stabilizing materi-

2.6 Cement
Soil stabilization is in most cases achieved through the use of cement as the stabilizing agent. Or-
dinary Portland cement (OPC) is mostly used for stabilization purposes and it works best with
sandy soils. Stabilization may be difficult if the clay content is too high. Generally the combined
percentage of silt and clay should not be less than 10 percent and more than 40 percent. The ce-
ment content varies depending on the desired strength of bricks and type of soil, although 5 %-10 %
by weight of dry soil is often used.

2.7 Lime
Lime makes a good stabilizer for soil with high content of clay (i.e. >40 %). Lime reacts with the clay
to form strong bonds between the soil particles. The amount of lime for stabilization purposes is
taken to range from 4 % to 8 % of the dry weight of soil.

2.8 Combination of Lime and Cement

When a soil has too much clay (>40 %) it is important to use the combination of lime and cement
stabilization because lime will make the soil easier to work with, and cement will help to gain the
strength and waterproof the product.

2.9 Combination of Lime and Pozzolana

Pozzolana is a material which contains much silica. Volcanic ash, pulverized blast furnace slag,
pumice and silica flour are examples of pozzolanas. Lime and pozzolana will react and make ce-
ment which may be almost as good as Portland cement. This can be used for both clayey (>40 %)
and sandy (<10 %) soils. The problem with this combination is that the reaction for strength devel-
opment is very slow.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

2.10 Stabilization of Bricks by Firing or Burning

This is commonly used in rural areas where no any other material is required apart from the soil and
firewood. The soil is mixed with water and is made in form of bricks, which upon being dry are
staked in kilns, then are burnt at high temperatures [5]. This is only possible when the soil is too
clayey (>40 %). The bricks produced may have higher strength compared to other types of bricks
but it has the disadvantage that it requires a lot of firewood for burning which may cause defor-
estation also produces a large quantity of smoke which causes air pollution.

3. Investigation on the Stabilized Soil Bricks

Stabilized soil bricks are made from ordinary soil mixed with a specified amount of stabilizer, e.g.
cement, lime and water in an appropriate ratio, then highly compacted in a brick press or mould
resulting in a solid and dense brick. Researches and experiences have shown that stabilized soil
bricks if well and appropriately used, they are up to 50 % cheaper than other conventional walling
materials such as concrete blocks while their structural performance is nearly the same [3].
The right type of soil for stabilized soil bricks should contain approximately 30 %-40 % clay+silt and
60 %-70 % sandy soil. The soil used should also be sieved through a 4.76 mm sieve. Also the soil
should be friable upon drying, easily compacted and should be able to dry without harmful shrink-
age or cracking.

3.1 Sampling of Soils

Soil samples were taken from two different sites in Iringa region and were identified as sample S1
and S2. The soil samples were then taken to the Building Materials Laboratory of the University of
Dar es Salaam for testing in order to check their suitability for brick making purposes. The soil was
tested in order to determine its suitability and the amount of the stabilizer required. The tests which
were performed on the soils are herein detailed, thus:
(a) Bottle Test
This test was performed in order to determine the approximate amount of clay, silt, sand and grav-
el present in the soil. The test revealed that the percentage of clay plus silt contents were 52 % for
soil sample S1 and 48.5 % for sample S2.
(b) Box (Linear Shrinkage) Test
This test is used to determine the amount of cement or lime to be used for stabilizing a particular
soil. The test results for the soil sample S1 was 12 mm while for sample S2 it was 18 mm.
(c) Grain Size Distribution
The grain size distribution expresses the size of the particles in terms of percentage of mass of in-
dividual sizes. Determination of particle size distribution is achieved using sieve analysis. Wet and
dry sieving for grains with diameter greater than 0.063 mm and sedimentation analysis for grains
with diameter less than 0.063 mm.
Prior to sieving, the samples were oven dried at 105°C for 24 hours. The samples remained dry dur-
ing the whole process of sieving. The advantage of this method is that the materials retained on
each sieve were easily weighed. For particles between 0.25 mm and 0.063 mm wet sieving was
necessary unless the whole sample had been washed to remove all particles less than 0.063mm in
size before drying. The obtained results are given in Table 1.

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology

Table 1: Summary of particle size distribution

Soil description S1 S2
Clay (%) 34 25
Silt (%) 23 23
Sand (%) 40 51.3
Gravel (%) 3 0.7
Solid density (?S) 2.65 2.65
Soil classification Gravelly silty clayey SAND Gravelly silty clayey Sand

(d) Optimum Moisture Content and Maximum Dry Density

The Optimum Moisture Content (OMC) at which the maximum dry density is obtained was deter-
mined by the Proctor test. The test results were recorded on a graph showing the dry density, ex-
pressed in kg/dm³, on the ordinate axis, and the moisture content (MC), expressed in percentage
by weight, on the abscissa. The samples S1 and S2 were taken and tested and then graphs were
plotted to obtain the maximum dry density and optimum moisture content. The obtained test re-
sults are tabulated in Table 2.

Table 2: Optimum moisture content and maximum dry density

Soil description S1 S2
Optimum moisture content (%) 29 22
Maximum dry density (kg/dm3 ) 1.55 1.72

(e) Atterberg Limits

Soils can have various states of consistency, liquid, plastic or solid. Atterberg defined these various
hydrous states of soil and the boundaries separating them as limits and indices, expressed as per-
centages by weight of the moisture content. In the same manner, tests for sample soils S1 and S2
were performed, and their respective results are shown in Table 3

Table 3: Summary of Atterberg limit test

Soil sample S1 S2
Liquid limit (LL) % 43 37.6
Plastic limit (PL) % 21 20
Plasticity index (PI) % 22 17.6

Cement and Concrete for Africa

4. Production of Bricks
The collected soil samples were sieved through a 4.6mm sieve so as to remove bigger particles.
Bigger lumps were first crushed before sieving, and particles which were retained on the sieve,
were further crushed and sieved again. The main mixing design was cement: lime: soil in an ap-
propriate proportion based on the results obtained from linear shrinkage test. Also lime was intro-
duced in the mix because the soils had clay+ silt content greater than 40 %. The other mix design
was cement: soil only.
The materials were manually
mixed using shovels until they
acquired a uniform color. Water
was easily added by using
sprinkler. The mix ratios used
for the whole process of pro-
ducing the bricks for sample S1
were as follows;
Cement: lime: soil 1:1:15 batch
by volume, and water- cement
ratio was 1:4 for sample S1 and
1:5 for sample S2 Figure 5: Stabilized soil bricks

4.1 Machinery and Equipment

There is a wide choice of machinery and equipment
available. The quality of the equipment used is im-
portant, but the quality of the soil remains of para-
mount importance. To make bricks one should have
the following tools; buckets, oil can, watering can,
4.6mm sieve, shovels, trowels, hoes, and mortar
pans, rammers and brooms. Bricks can be molded
by using block press (Cinva ram) or locally made
hand mould from timber or steel depending on the
availability of materials and financial position of the
people concerned. There are also other sophisti-
cated electric mould machines, which are used for
mass production of stabilized soil bricks. Figure 6: Steel mould for bricks production

5. Production of Voided Bricks

Internal voids in a bricks are usually provided for the purpose of enhancing economy for the materi-
als, and for heat and sound insulation. For these reasons, a total of 34 bricks were produced, each
having a void of around 500 cm3 (500 ml), which was formed by the inclusion of a plastic bottle that
was originally used to keep drinking water with a brand known as Kilimanjaro (ref. Fig. 7) or Uhai.
The inclusion of a bottle in a brick is a means also of disposing plastics to keep the environment
For the voided bricks, the mix ratios were 1:10, 1:12.5, 1:16 and 1:18 (cement: soil), there was no lime
addition. After mixing cement and soil, water was added, and the materials were again mixed till a
uniform color was attained. The mixture was then loaded in a steel mould (Fig. 6). A timber element
already turned into a bottle shape was set at half depth the mould at centre for the purpose of form-
ing a void that would house the plastic bottle (Fig. 7). Then the materials were compressed till the

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology

maximum compaction point was reached, then the top plate of the
mould was released to allow for the removal of the bottle-shaped
timber element. To the formed recess, a tightly closed empty bottle
or full of water was placed in. Then some mixed soil material was
added and the top steel plate tightened. Again the soil material with
a bottle included was pressed to the compaction effort required,
then the top plate was taken away and the brick pushed up using a
lever system of the mould. The brick was gently lifted and placed on
a flat surface. The procedure was repeated for all bricks production.
Some of the bricks are depicted in Figure 5.
In comparison to the traditional cement-sand blocks which have ra-
tios ranging from 1:6 to 1:8, the ratio of 1:1:15 or 1:15 for stabilized
soil bricks consumes less cement than traditional approach. The
saving in cement is almost 50 %.

5.1 Curing
Curing is the process of watering the cement-stabilized brick so as
to achieve the required strength properties. Cement needs water to
gain its full strength, therefore, curing was done twice a day and this
process continued for at least two weeks. Curing of stabilized soil
bricks is very important in order to get good quality soil bricks. Figure 7: A plastic bottle for
inclusion in a brick

5.2 Testing of Bricks and Wall Specimens

Before using the bricks for any construction work, it was important to test a sample of few bricks to
check if they have achieved a minimum strength requirement of BS 5628 Part 1 of 2.80 N/mm² [4].
The tests were carried out after the bricks reached a minimum age of 28 days. Bricks produced
from the two samples S1 and S2 were randomly selected and labeled for testing. All bricks were of
the same size i.e. 30 cm x 14 cm x 10 cm which implies that the compressive area of each brick was
4200 cm2.

5.3 Compressive Strength

The compressive strength test was done in order to de-
termine the compressive strength of the bricks against
vertical loading. The procedure for testing each brick
was done as follows:
– External dimensions of each sampled brick were tak-
en and the brick was marked for identification
– The brick was weighed and recorded in grams
– The brick was placed into the machine and all set-up
procedures were properly done
– The brick was gradually loaded at a rate of 1kN/sec
until it failed
– The ultimate load was recorded. Figure 8: Testing of brick specimens

After finishing the testing and recording for all the bricks, the obtained results were analyzed, the
results of which are summarized in Figures 9 to 12. In Figures 9 and 11, shown are the compressive
strengths of each individual brick for soil samples S1 and S2. Also the control minimum compressive
strength value obtained from BS 5628 Part 1 of 2.80 N/mm2 is indicated. For soil S1 the strengths are
almost above the control value, while for soil S2, three strength values are below the control value.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Figure 10 shows the densities of each single stabilized soil brick from the main mix ratio. The densi-
ties are slightly lower than the densities for cement-sand blocks of around 2.0 kg/dm3 because the
bricks are produced from natural soil material which is stabilized with a very little amount of cement
and lime. On the other hand soil bricks offer higher heat or fire resistance due to the nature of the
constituent materials.

Figure 9: Compressive strength results of bricks (Samples S1 and S2)

Figure 10: Densities of soil bricks from soil samples S1 and S2

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology

5.4 Strength of Voided Bricks

The compressive strength of voided bricks ranged from approximately 1.0 N/mm2 to 1.5 N/mm2.
This strength range is on the lower side when compared with the minimum BS 5628 values. How-
ever, for non load bearing walls the strength is sufficient.

Figure 11: Compressive strengths of voided bricks

5.5 Water Absorption Test

The test was carried out in order to assess the water absorption of the bricks. The test was done
by first marking and measuring the weight of each of the eight bricks. The dry weight of S1 bricks
ranged from 6.44 to 6.71kg. After soaking in the water for 24 hours, the bricks were taken out of the
water and on attaining surface dry; they were finally weighed, where by the weight ranged from 7.35
to 7.65 kg. In the same manner, bricks made from soil S2 weighed from 6.60 to 7.4 kg when dry and
7.4 to 8.16 kg after soaking for 24 hours. The water absorption was obtained by assessing the
weight difference. The results are summarized in Figure 12, thus;

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Figure 12: Water absorption for stabilized soil bricks

6. Vertical Load Carrying Capacity of Sample Walls

6.1 Building the Wall Specimens
Building the walls is the most challenging part of construction, and therefore it should be done care-
fully in order to achieve a stable and plumb wall. A wall should be designed and built to meet various
requirements such as stability, accommodation of movements, resistance to rain penetration, du-
rability, fire resistance, thermal properties and other construction details. Some of the stabilized
bricks were used to build sample walls which were tested for their vertical load carrying capacity.

6.2 Compressive Strength of Sample Walls

Load bearing walls may be designed to carry in
plane horizontal loads induced by wind, bracing
effects or earthquake; the loads are transferred
to the walls primarily via diaphragms such as
floors or roofs. The load bearing capacity of the
brick work depends upon the thickness and
number of joints, type of bond and the brick ex-
The compressive strength test was done (ref.
Figure 13) to determine the vertical load carrying
capacity of the walls built from the stabilized soil
bricks made from the two samples.
The size of the wall in plan was 2½ times the
brick length, the thickness was 140 mm and the Figure 13: Wall specimen under test
height was 5 courses as recommended by RILEM. The obtained test results showed that the com-
pressive strength for walls constructed from soil sample S1 were 1.23 N/mm2 and 1.32 N/mm2,
while from soil sample S2 it was 1.12 N/mm2. The average compressive strength was found to be
1.22 N/mm2.

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology

7. Discussion on the Results

From the bottle test results it was found that the percentage of clay plus silt content in the samples
was greater than 40 %. Therefore stabilization with cement and lime had to be done for the main
mix, while the other mix only cement was used. The gradation test showed that the amount of clay
and silt in both samples was more than 40 % (S1= 57 % and S2= 48 %). The Atterberg limits test
revealed that the two samples were of clays of low plasticity and therefore they were good for sta-
From the results obtained in Linear shrinkage test, both samples were to be mixed in the ratio of
1:15, but since lime had to be applied too, then the batching mix by volume of cement: lime: soil
became 1:1:15.
From the Compressive strength test results, some of the compressive strength values met the
minimum requirements of 2.8N/mm2 according to BS 5628 Part 1 for bricks [4]. It seems that for the
solid bricks which didn’t meet the requirements, the reason behind was that they didn’t get proper
compaction or the volume of the mix (soil, cement and lime) placed in the mould was not enough
for proper compaction.

7.1 Voided Bricks

The average compressive strength of voided bricks was 1.2 N/mm2, being lower than the minimum require-
ment of BS 5628 Part 1. For a framed structure, these bricks can be used for external walls too. The use of
these bricks will help to reduce heat and sound insulation. On the other hand the bricks lead to reduced cost
because there is saving of materials, especially cement and soil. The use of stabilized soil bricks is environ-
mentally friendly as there is no need of deforestation to get wood for firing the bricks.
From the results of Water absorption test, it was found that the water absorption of the bricks
made from soil sample S1 was 12.3 % while that of bricks from soil sample S2 was 9.86 %. This
means that bricks from all samples were within the required range as the maximum water absorp-
tion allowed is 20 %, therefore they are durable.
From the test results for Vertical load carrying capacity of the wall specimens, the strength
values for the walls constructed with bricks made from samples S1 were 1.23N/mm2 and
1.32N/mm2, while for walls from sample S2 it was 1.12N/mm2. The results agree with the fact that
the strength of the brick work in compression is much smaller than the compressive strength of the
bricks from which it is built.

8. Conclusions and Recommendations

8.1 Conclusions
In this study, it has been revealed that bricks made from stabilized soil with a mix ratio of 1:1:15 for
cement: lime: soil has compressive strengths greater than the minimum value given in the British
Standard (BS 5628 Part 1) of 2.80 N/mm2 [4]. The average compressive strength of the bricks made
from soil sample S1 is 3.53 N/mm2 while from sample S2 it was 2.28 N/mm2. The utilized cement is
almost 50 % less when compared with cement consumption of traditional sand blocks.
The technology is more environmental friendly because it uses less cement; it further reduces the
construction costs when internal voids are introduced inside the brick body. An added advantage
is that the inclusion of a 500 ml plastic bottle in a brick keeps the environment clean as it is a way
of disposing them bearing in mind that there is no any proper policy in Tanzania of disposing plastic
bottles. The other advantage is that it is environmentally friendly for there is no need of felling trees
for firing bricks. Building with stabilized soil bricks is a technology which offers a good possibility
for enabling low income groups to build their own houses at low cost. The technology stands to

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contribute to the national goal of providing housing for the majority of Tanzanians. Buildings con-
structed by stabilized soil bricks will have long life if all production and construction procedures are
followed, hence minimum maintenance will be required.

8.2 Recommendations
For effective use of stabilized soil technology, the management of the soil resources must be stud-
ied before digging to keep the balance between the soil requirement for the building and environ-
mental use (ref. Fig. A1). To achieve a successful dissemination of this technology, the following
recommendations should be implemented.
– Promoting stabilized soil bricks through advertising and pilot housing, so that many people will
get appropriate knowledge about this technology.
– There should be prepared operation manual for the soil preparation, use of the brick press mould
and the building process.
– A study on the effects of dynamic loading to the sample walls is necessary so as to be able to
assess how the walls may behave.
– Another study on heat absorption and transfer through the specimen walls or model building is

9. Appendix
(a) Clay soil preparation for producing bricks

(b) Laying of clay bricks on “rough surface”

(c) Burnt clay bricks

Figure A1: Burnt bricks production

Environmental Friendly Low Cost Housing Technology

Detail drawing for the steel mould for stabilized soil bricks production. The mould exerts high com-
pressive pressure to the stabilized soil mixture and result in high strength bricks.

Figure A2: Details of Steel mould for

bricks production

10. References
[1] Chavez, J.R.G., “Innovative Building Materials For Sustainable Applications in Low Cost
Housing”, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana – Azcapottzalco, Departmento de Medio
Ambiente, Laboratorio de Investigaciones en Arqitectura Bioclimatica, San Pablo 180, Colo-
nia Reynosa Tamaulipas, C.P. 02200, Mexico D. F., 2003.
[2] Humberto, C. et al, “Structural Behaviour of load bearing brick walls of soil-cement with
the additional of ground ceramic waste”, Revista Brasileira de Enginharia e Ambinental, Vol
7, No.3, pp 552-558, October 2003.
[3] Makunza, J.K., “Suitability of Crusher Dust as a Masonry Construction Material”, Tanzania
Journal of Engineering and Technology (Accepted for publication), Vol 1, No.1, College of
Engineering and technology, University of Dar es Salaam, 2006.
[4] BS 5628 Part 1, 1985, “Structural use of plain masonry”, BSI, London.
[5] Kaywanga A., “Investigation of Structural Qualities of Locally Produced Burnt Clay Bricks
in Iringa-Region at Ilula and Ilole Villages”, Final Year Project, Department of Structural and
Construction Engineering, University of Dar es Salaam, July 2011.

Cement and Concrete for Africa

Low-Cost Shell Structures: Thermal Loading

M. Gohnert
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Thin shell masonry structures are ideal for low-cost housing. Curved structures are ideally suited to
resist external forces and are the most efficient structures. In shell structures, the forces are prima-
rily in-plane, referred to as membrane forces. Shells, dominated by compressive stresses, are an
absolute requirement in masonry structures, to minimize cracking. However, shell structures which
are designed for pure compression still exhibit cracking on the external surface. Cracked shells are
unsightly and a precursor to durability problems. For this reason, several studies have been under-
taken to determine the cause of cracking in shells. This study is an investigation into the effects of
thermal loading. The research includes the mapping of thermal loads by experimentation, an as-
sessment of the effects of thermal loading and possible solutions to prevent cracking in the shell.

1. Introduction
Masonry homes have been constructed for many centuries and are, perhaps, the most common
type of home. Shell structures, constructed of masonry, are less common despite the fact that shell
structures are the most efficient structural forms known to man. These types of structures are in-
spired by nature, which possess optimal shapes developed through evolution. The efficiency of
shell structures is due to the in-plane distribution of forces, called membrane forces [1]. Membrane
forces are either compressive or tensile. However, in masonry, tensile forces should be avoided.
Although tensile forces are acceptable in reinforced concrete and steel structures [2],they are not
acceptable in masonry due to its low tensile capacity. The shape of the structure is also a significant
factor, which influences how stresses are distributed.
This paper is focused on thermal loading of shell structures. Thermal loading changes the shape of
the structure and causes tensile strains, which may cause cracking. This research therefore consid-
ers how thermal load affects shell structures. A masonry shell structure is instrumented for this
purpose—to collect thermal strain data and to determine the distribution of strain on the surface of
the shell. The results are analyzed to determine the effects and the crack potential.

2. General Layout of the Masonry Dome

A cross-section of the test dome is given in Fig. 1. The lower portion of the dome comprises a dou-
ble brick cylindrical shell with a single brick hemisphere roof. The inside diameter is 5310 mm, tota-
ling 22.15 m2 of floor space. At the apex of the dome, a skylight is installed to admit natural light. At
quarter points, a door and three windows were installed.

Low-Cost Shell Structures: Thermal Loading

Fig. 1: Cross-section of the dome structure

The shape of the dome determines the distribution of stresses (i.e., hoop and meridian). The merid-
ian stresses are compressive, but the hoop stresses vary depending on the ratio of the height to
diameter of the dome. In hemispherical brick structures, the hoop stresses in the middle third of the
dome are typically in tension. As the dome flattens, the hoop tensions are reduced and eventually
eliminated as the shape approximates a centenary form [3]. At a height/diameter ratio of approxi-
mately 0.28 or less, the shell is in complete compression [4]. A masonry shell in compression is
ideal to minimize cracking, but not practical for several reasons: Flat masonry shells require a ring
beam to resist the larger kicking out forces (horizontal radial forces at the base of the shell)—this
will affect the cost of the structure. In a hemisphere, the kicking out force is less and a ring beam
may not be required. Furthermore, flat masonry shells are difficult to construct. For these reasons,
the shell was designed as a hemisphere for constructability and to eliminate the need for a ring
beam at eaves height. The disadvantage, however, is that the structure has a propensity to crack
due to hoop tensions.
Loads are primarily carried in the plane of the shell, which enables economy of materials. These
forces are called membrane forces and occur in the hoop and meridian directions. Bending and
shear forces are expensive forces and therefore the desigers of masonry shells attempt to avoid
these types of forces. Although shells are primarily membrane structures, some bending and shear
forces are likely to occur at the support (refereed to as boundary conditions), which complicates the

3. Stress Analysis
The shell was analyzed with four types of loads – dead, live, wind and temperature. The shell roof
is inaccessible, thus only a nomimal live load (i.e., a maintenance load) is required. The round shape
of the shell is useful in reducing the effects of wind. The assumed pressures are distributed accord-
ing to a trignomic function [1] given as Eq. 1:

Pz = P cos q sin f (1)

Where θ is the horizontal angle (zero degrees in the direction of the wind) and φ is the vertical angle
(zero degrees at the apex).
The effects of dead, live and wind are distributed in the shell as membrane forces (in-plane com-
pressive or tensile forces) in accordance to thin shell theory.
Fig. 2 is an ABAQUS model illustrating the Von Mises stress patterns in the shell for the combina-
tions of loadings.

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Fig. 2: Stress distribution in the shell

The analysis illustrates the tension stress concentrations that occur around the window and door
openings (expressed as warm colors). These stress concentrations are tensile stresses. A vertical
crack is therefore expected at the apex of the arch as well as 45° cracks about halfway down the
arch. The analysis is confirmed by a crack pattern study of existing unreinforced masonry shells. In
Fig. 3, the discoloration lines on the surface of the shells are the location of cracks. A comparison
of the stress pattern of Fig. 2 and the crack pattern in Fig. 3 demonstrates that the location of the
cracks coincide exactly with what was predicted with the finite element analysis. These cracks are
therefore unrelated to cracks due to thermal loading, but a direct consequence of dead, live and
wind loads.

Fig. 3: Crack patterns in an existing unreinforced shell

From the ABAQUS analysis, the distribution of hoop and meridian moments through a vertical slice
of the shell is illustrated in Figs. 4 and 5.
Two studies of stress distribution in the shell were performed to determine the influence of arches
incorporated in the shell around openings (i.e., around doors and windows). The solid lines repre-
sent the hoop stresses (Fig. 4) and meridian moments (Fig. 5) through a section of the shell with
arches incorporated. The dashed line represents the structure without arches. As illustrated, it was
found that by incorporating arches around the door and window openings, the stress is reduced
significantly. These stiffened arches have proven useful in reducing the hoop tensions and transi-
tional stresses between the hemisphere and cylindrical shells.

Low-Cost Shell Structures: Thermal Loading

Meridian Moments
Hoop Forces-vertical section
4 3.5
H eight (m )

Height (m)
2 2

0 0.5

-10 -5 0 5 10 0
-0.3 -0.2 -0.1 0 0.1 0.2 0.3
Hoop forces (kN/m)
Moments (kN.m/m)

With arches around opennings Without arches around openings With arches around opennings Without arches around openings

Fig. 4: Hoop forces through a vertical section Fig. 5: Meridian moment through a
vertical section

The effects of temperature are often ignored in the analysis and how it influences cracking in the
shell is an enigma to many researchers and designers. However, temperature loading is a signifi-
cant contributor of stress in the shell. A finite element ABAQUS model was used to model and
predict the effects of temperature loading. A temperature differential of 20 °C was applied to the
thickness of the shell 1, applied linearly over the inner and outer surfaces. In addition, to improve
accuracy, the temperature load was varied to simulate the effects of the sun (i.e., maximum load
where the sun strikes the shell normal to the tangent). The results of the analysis are given in
Fig. 6.

Temperture Loading Hoop Forces

Height (m) 3
-4 -2 0 2 4 6 8
Hoop forces (kN/m)

Variation of temperature applied to the shell surface

Even distribution of temperature over the shell surface

Fig. 6: Hoop forces due to temperature loading

The finite element analysis indicates that a variation of thermal loading to the surface of the shell (to
simulate the sun) is not significantly different to the analysis of a shell subjected to an even distribu-
tion of temperature loading. The temperature model, however, was found to be sensitive to the
degree of fixity at the base. The model assumed a pinned support, located at the damp-proof
course. In masonry structures, just above ground level, a plastic sheet is placed on a course of
bricks, which is referred to as DPC (damp proof course). The DPC prevents the capillary flow of
moisture through the bricks. Although the DPC prevents the ingress of moisture, the plastic mate-
rial does not bind well to the mortar – a small moment or shear may cause the bond to crack and
create a pin or sliding support. The effect is often seen as negative, but was found to be beneficial

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to relieve stress induced by temperature loading. The structure is therefore able to expand and
contract, without the restraining influence of a fixed support.
Stiff arches are placed around the window and door openings. The restraining effect of the arches
was found to increase the temperature stress in these regions. Fig. 7 illustrates the bending mo-
ments through an arch and through the full height of the shell. As seen in the figure, the moments
are significantly higher around door and window openings. The DPC reduces the stress at the base,
but the arches attract stress.

Temperature Induced Meridian Bending Moments

Height (m)

-0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5
Moment (kN.m/m)

Through vertical section of shell Though vertical section of an arch

Fig. 7: The temperature influence of the arches on the bending moments in the shell

The dome structure was instrumented with Demec targets to determine the temperature effects on
the dome during day light hours. The location of the targets are shown in Fig. 8. The meridian and
hoop strain readings are given in Figs. 9 and 10, respectively.


Fig. 8: Location of the Demec targets for temperature strain readings (viewed from top)

Temperature strains were recorded twice daily. In Figs. 9 and 10, the dashed lines represent the
morning readings (07:00) and the solid lines represent the afternoon (15:30) readings. In the south-
ern hemisphere, structures have greater exposure to the sun on the Northern face. As illustrated in
the graphs, the strains are larger on the side of the shell which is exposed to the sun. The meridian
strains are the largest and peaks at the apex of the shell. The hoop strains appear less than the
meridian strains.

Low-Cost Shell Structures: Thermal Loading

Meridian Temperature Strains on Surface of


-0.0005 0 2 4 6 8 10

Target Points
Fig. 9: Meridian strains on the
surface of the dome

Hoop Temperature Strains on Surface

of Dome


-0.001 0 2 4 6 8 10
Targets Fig. 10: Hoop Temperature strains on
the surface of the dome

The exterior face of the shell is composed of a 10 mm sand/cement plaster. The tensile cracking
strain of the plaster is predicted as being less than 0.001 [5]. As seen from the graphs, the meridian
strains significantly exceed these strains; therefore, thermal cracking is expected, especially in the
upper regions of the shell. Cracking in the upper region of the shell is therefore most likely caused
by thermal loading.

4. Temperature Distribution in Groin Valuts

The most current research on temperature loading is studying the distribution of temperature on the
surface of groin vaulted structures. The shell in Fig. 11 is a 3 m x 3 m x 1.5 m high groin vault con-
structed of thin soil tiles, 20 mm thick – two layers of tiles are placed in the upper regions, which
increases to four layers at the supports. The shape of the arches of the shell is catenary, to eliminate
tensile forces.
The shell was instrumented with a 16 thermal couples, placed on the exterior surface of the shell
and data collected by means of a data-logger. A series of smaller shells were also constructed to
study the effects of various surfaces (painted and volcanic rocks applied to the exterior to dispell
heat). The results for an exposed soil tile surface is given in Fig. 12.

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Fig. 11: Groin vaulted shell

Fig. 12: Temperature distrubution on the surface of the shell

As seen from Fig. 12, the maximum temperature on the surface of the shell tends towards the apex
of the shell and the Northern face. The average approximate variation in surface temperature is
18° C (readings were taken over the summer months). Differing from the dome, the catenary groin
vaults did not crack when subjected to thermal loading. The groin vault, however, is a pure com-
pression structure.

Low-Cost Shell Structures: Thermal Loading

5. Resisting Temperature Strains

5.1 Counteracting Temperature Stresses by Self Weight
The self weight of the structure will, to a certain degree, counteract the temperature stresses. How-
ever, the shell is composed of a single brick and the dead load strains are minor, which range from
0.0000028 at the apex to 0.0000056 at the base of the dome. The measured temperature strains
peak at 0.003, which is significantly higher than the dead load strains. Thus, the compressive
strains from the dead load are not sufficient to counteract the temperature strains. Thus, no benefit
is derived from increasing the thickness of the shell.
Increasing the weight of the shell does not necessarily mean that the strains are increased. If the
shell walls are constructed with a double brick wall the weight would be doubled but the area of the
wall is also doubled.

5.2 Prestressing
Prestressing shell structures is rare, but has been done on a few structures. Goudi [6] documented
a barrel vaulted structure which was presstressed along its length to counteract the tension stress-
es in the shell caused by end support walls. The prestressing was composed of longitudinal strands
laid along the length of the exterior of the shell. The strands were prestressed by twisting the
strands together to create a tension in the cable. Likewise, a spider web shaped net may be laid
over the shell and stressed to induce a compression in the shell (see Fig. 13). The prestressing will
increase the compressive stresses and therefore the shell is more resistant to temperature loads. A
similar effect could be created by additional weight placed on the apex of the shell. Architects/en-
gineers in antiquity placed lanterns on the apex to prestress domes. Examples are the St. Paul‘s
and Florence cathedrals [7].

Fig. 13: Prestressing a dome structure

5.3 Insulation
Insulating the exterior of the shell is a common method of improving the thermal comfort of the in-
terior space and has been used in shell design for many years. However, the exterior insulation is
generally not considered as a means of preventing thermal cracking in the exterior walls, since
thermal stresses are not considered as adversely affecting the integrity of the shell [2]. This is based
on the premise that as the shell is heated, the entire structure expands without inducing thermal
stresses. This is not entirely correct since the ring beam/foundations are usually buried below the
soil surface and not exposed to the sun. Shells constructed of reinforced concrete are capable of
resisting tension stresses and therefore thermal stresses do not adversely affect the shell. Masonry
domes are generally not reinforced and therefore susceptible to thermal stresses.

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6. Conclusions
Masonry shells, particularly shapes that are not catenary, are prone to surface cracking. Some
cracks are the result of boundary conditions (fixity at supports), openings for windows and doors,
asymmetrical loading (wind) and stiffeners (arches). These types of cracks are predictable through
analytical methods such as finite elements. Thermal loading, however, is frequently not considered
as a source of cracking. Through experimentation, it was found that thermal strains are significant.
An existing domed shaped shell was instrumented with Demec targets and strain measurements
were taken twice daily. The temperature strains were found to exceed the tensile strength of the
surface plaster and therefore was identified as a major contributor of cracking. The greatest poten-
tial is near the apex of the shell, which correlates with the position of the mid-day sun (where the
sun rays are normal to the tangent of the shell surface).
The possibility of thermal cracking is also increased by the shape of the shell and the magnitude of
compressive forces that exists in the shell prior to thermal loading. Shells that are not catenary in
shape, will have tensile stresses in the hoop direction or at the boundary. These tensile stresses
compound, increasing the possibility of cracking in the shell. However, the effects of thermal stress-
es may be reduced by increasing the compressive stresses in the shell – prestressing or by apply-
ing weight at the apex are optional methods, which counteract thermal strains.

7. References
[1] D.P. Billington, Thin shell concrete structures, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill, New York, 1982.
[2] A. Wilson, Practical design of concrete shells, Monolithic Dome Institute, Texas, 2005.
[3] W. Zalewski, E. Allen, Shaping structures: statics, Wiley, New York, 1998.
[4] A. Spottiswood, Stress distribution in shell structures, Research Report, University of the
Witwatersrand, 2002.
[5] R. Fernandes, Fibre reinforced soilcrete blocks for the construction of low cost housing,
Research Report, Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology, 2004.
[6] G.R. Collins, The designs and drawings of Antonio Gaudi, Princeton University Press,
Princeton, 1983.
[7] F. Escrig, Geometry and Structures: historical impressions about architecture, J. of IASSS.
52 (1), (March n. 167, 2011), 25-38.