Engineering properties of Ghanaian sandcrete blocks

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Sandcrete blocks are prismatic units manufactured from lean (sand-cement) mortar mixes and are the predominant walling materials used in buildings in Ghana and other developing countries. Although the blocks are preferred to other similar walling materials such as bricks and concrete blocks due to the availability of the dominant material (sand) in the country and the ease of manufacture, the material is known to have several drawbacks: it has a low compressive strength which could be a factor for structural failure in buildings. Apart from the compressive strength, little is known about the other strength and permeation properties of the material. Thirdly, little research has been conducted into the influence of water-cement ratio which is known to wield a strong influence on the strength and permeation properties of cementitious materials. On the basis of a thorough review of the literature, a detailed experimental programme was designed and carried out in Ghana and the United Kingdom on the factors that influence the strength and permeation properties of the material using over 10 destructive, partially destructive and non-destructive test methods. Over 1500 sandcrete blocks were moulded and tested. The literature review also indicated that lack of quality control in the Ghanaian sandcrete blocks manufacturing industry account for the poor quality of the material in the country.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Civil Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 2005