Environmentally-friendly ceramic bricks made from zeolite-poor rock and sawdust

The production of innovative building bricks from new materials has drawn a huge interest lately, targeting sustainability-related problems. This research investigates the utilization of zeolite-poor rock and sawdust as an alternative for clay to produce new and eco-friendly bricks. Ceramic specimens were prepared using uniaxial dry pressing and firing at a temperature range of (950–1250 °C) for three hours. Sawdust was added as a partial replacement of zeolite-poor rock in the specimens. The replacement percentages were 0%, 2%, 4%, 6%, 8% and 10% by mass of zeolite-poor rock. The raw materials were characterized based on their chemical composition, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive Xray spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), thermogravimetric (TG), differential thermal analysis (DTA), BET (Brunauer, Emmett and Teller) and particle size distribution. The topographical features, microstructure, phase identification and the characteristic of the produced ceramic bricks were investigated using different characterization techniques such as SEM, EDS and XRD. Moreover, the technical properties (e.g., bulk density, open porosity, volume shrinkage, water absorption, compressive strength and thermal conductivity) of the specimens were also investigated and compared to the control samples’ results. The results confirmed that the inclusion of 8% sawdust to zeolite-poor rock minimizes the bulk density of the specimens down to 1.45 from 1.6 g/cm3. It has been noted that their porosity increased up to 37.37 from 31%. In contrast, their compressive strengths declined from 14.5 to 6.7 MPa. However, their strengths were greater than those desired by the standards. The thermal conductivity of the samples contains 8% sawdust reduced from 0.37 to 0.14 W/mK, which corresponds to a decrease of 37% compared to the blank. The mechanical and physical characteristics of bricks were also influenced by the sintering temperature. This research confirms the potential use of zeolite-poor rock together with sawdust as environmentally-friendly building materials.

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