Does papercrete fulfil the increased needs of a façade cladding technology?
Papercrete is an experimental material which replaces an amount of cement with paper in the normal concrete mix. Concrete is the most commonly used material in construction. Its annual energy consumption exceeds that of all the other engineering materials. An estimated five to eight percent of the world’s carbon emissions coming from the concrete industry. Concrete industry is constantly looking for new ways to create lighter more ecological friendly products. Adding mineral fibres or foam are the most common ways.
The total weight, the cost and the CO2 emissions during production are reduced. Its use remains limited, because of the lack of official data about its structural behaviour, mechanical properties and durability. In order to bring papercrete closer to standardization further experimentation is needed.
The research is material based, and aims to define the limiting properties and set the main design principles. Results showed that papercrete meet most of the façade cladding systems requirements. It is a lightweight material (7 times lighter than concrete) with good heat and acoustic insulation properties and big variety on shapes, colours and textures. Papercrete though, is a new material and like all the new materials there is a period of time which its applications are limited because the manufacturing, processing and construction techniques are still not developed enough to facilitate its use.
Papercrete is a properties limited material. These properties will define whether if can be used as a façade cladding material or not. Adding reinforcement (fibres or metal mesh in the mesh) to improve the mechanical properties, changing the manufacture process (use less water-ovens) to minimize the drying period and increase the strength and prefabricating the panels in a controlled environment and moving them in situ when needed are the first steps towards standardizing the process and improving the quality. Papercrete is a property limited, materialThere are significant challenges going into business with papercrete but also opportunities. Deep knowledge in material properties and long term liability, advance in processing and building aspects, in combination with future material technology, will bring papercrete closer to standardization. Getting a building permit will become easier, will attract more investments, and eventually papercrete will be commercially accepted.