Durability of Locally-Produced Burnt Clay Bricks

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Sustainable economic growth for every country and Ghana for that matter is dependent on infrastructural development, public development projects and the provision of affordable houses for the average populace. Ghana faces a huge housing deficit with its attendant environmental and health problems. Construction is costly due to importation of clinker for cement production. The use of locally-produced burnt clay bricks is an alternative. However, locally-produced burnt clay bricks are perceived not to be durable and of varying properties. Hence, the study investigated the durability of locally-produced burnt clay bricks. Properties of laboratory-produced burnt bricks from Mfensi, Mankranso and Nyamebekyre clays were compared with burnt bricks available on the market but produced from the same clay source. Burnt bricks produced in the laboratory were fired at 800, 900 and 1050oC to investigate the effect of firing temperature on brick durability. Burnt bricks were subjected to salt attack tests and durability assessed by measuring degradation in some physical and mechanical properties. Salt environments considered included sea water, 0.5 M NaCl and 0.5 M Na2SO4. The results show that burnt bricks fired at high temperatures are more durable and have better chances of survival in aggressive environments than bricks fired at low temperatures. Mfensi bricks fired at 1050oC had higher cold crushing strength in seawater and Na2SO4 but not in NaCl. Likewise Mankranso and Nyamebekyre bricks fired at 1050oC also performed very well in seawater and NaCl reducing in strength when exposed to Na2SO4. The differences in durability in the environments studied are due to variation in the chemical composition of the clays which resulted in different properties of burnt bricks. Careful control of clay composition and firing temperature can produce durable burnt clay bricks with high durability, that remain unaltered in the process of their service life even in aggressive environments.
A thesis submitted to The Department of Materials Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology In Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Environmental Resources Management,