Earth-based mortars: mix design, mechanical characterization and environmental performance assessment

The incorporation of sustainable materials in the civil construction sector has grown in recent years to minimize environmental impacts. Among these materials, the use of earth, a local raw material that does not require much energy for its processing, appears as an advantageous and promising alternative. Earth mortars stabilized with natural binders, when compared to conventional mortars, can have technological, economic and environmental advantages. The objective of this work was to develop an earth-based mortar stabilized with mineral binders using a 1:3 binder to aggregate mass proportion, and to evaluate its fresh and hardened state properties, as well as its environmental impacts using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) with a cradle to gate scope. The selected materials were divided in four groups: (i) cement, hydrated lime, fly ash and metakaolinite (binders), (ii) natural sand and coarse fraction of the earth (aggregates), (iii) calcium chloride and superplasticizer (additives) and (iv) water. In the matrix formulation the clay fraction from earth constituted the majority of the binder. The selection of supplementary cementitious materials as additional binders provided improvements in workability and mechanical properties of the mortar. A mix design was carried out using different cement (5; 7.5 and 10%) and fly ash (11; 13.5 and 16%) mass percentages. The water/binder material ratio, superplasticizer content and calcium chloride content were 0.65; 2% and 1%, respectively. The results showed that an increase in fly ash content combined with a decrease in cement content provided an increase in workability and a decrease in mechanical properties of mortars. Nevertheless, the mechanical performance of the mortars remained above the minimum values prescribed in Brazilian construction codes. From the results analysis it was concluded that partial replacement of cement by fly ash provided greater workability in the fresh state and reduced the environmental impacts of the earth-based mortar.

Submit the form below to access the download: