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Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010

DOI 10.1617/s11527-012-9949-4

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Design of clay/cement mixtures for extruded building


products
H. Khelifi A. Perrot T. Lecompte G. Ausias

Received: 30 November 2011 / Accepted: 27 September 2012 / Published online: 5 October 2012
 RILEM 2012

Abstract In this work, ternary mixes of sand, cement


and kaolin are studied in order to design extruded building products with reduced environmental impact. Firstly,
the amount of water required to reach the extrusion rheological criterion and the immersed mechanical strength
are studied. Results lead to a compressive strength prediction tool (derived from Feret model) which provides
the compressive strength of a given ternary mix. Then, the
dimensional and immersion stabilities of ternary mixes
are studied. It shows that for mixes containing more
kaolin volume than cement volume, mechanical strength
is largely influenced by the saturation state. Finally, collected data show that cement stabilized clay blocks and
high content cement substitution concrete can be
designed with clay/cement mixes.
Keywords Extrusion  Yield stress  Clay  Cement 
Compressive strength
1 Introduction
The building materials sector is responsible for 9.5 %
of the total anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide
in Europe [1]. About 81 % of these CO2 emissions
H. Khelifi  A. Perrot (&)  T. Lecompte  G. Ausias
Laboratoire dingenierie des Materiaux de Bretagne,
Universite de Bretagne Sud, Universite Europeenne de
BretagneCentre de Recherche Christiaan Huygens, BP
92116, 56321 Lorient Cedex, France
e-mail: arnaud.perrot@univ-ubs.fr

come from cement production [24]. One way to


reduce this impact is to improve the production
processes, as is done by the cement industry, especially
since the Kyoto Protocol signed in 1992. However, this
improvement is rapidly reaching a maximum level of
attainment. While waiting for the development of CO2
capture and storage (CCS), it seems that reducing the
amount of cement in concretes and mortars has become
a priority. One way for cement and concrete industries
to do so is the substitution of clinker with mineral
additions or alternative binders [5]. For example, fly
ash can be used to design bricks comparable to concrete
ones [6, 7]. From the builder or precast concrete plant
point of view, one solution consists in compacting
concrete mixes by pressure, vibration or extrusion, to
reduce its air content: it is well known that concrete
resistance is directly linked to its porosity [8, 9]. Then,
compacting fresh cement pastes induces either a better
strength for the same amount of binder or the same
strength with less binder. In either case, it reduces CO2
emissions, by consuming less concrete for the same
structure or a lower cement proportion in concrete
mixes. Precast industries are more interested in extrusion because it is a continuous process which allows for
the production of high resistance engineered cementitious composites (ECC) [1015].
The main impediment to ECC development is their
cost: to be extrudable, a concrete mix has to be stiff
enough at the fresh state to be shape stable immediately
after forming, and must remain homogeneous, with no
water migration [1618]. It typically requires a

1000

Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010

significant amount of expensive and unsustainable


dispersing agents or viscosity modifying admixtures,
such as methylcellulose [19, 20]. Recent works [21
23] show that use of clays sharply increases the shape
stability and extrudability of cement pastes at an early
age and can substitute for cohesive and viscosity
modifying admixtures. Moreover, cement stabilized
clays have been proved to be an efficient way to extrude
bricks for clay materials containing large amounts of
kaolinite [2427]. Depending on the cement content,
literature analysis shows that cement/soil mixes offer a
large range of mechanical strengths. As a result, the
extrusion of simple bricks to precast beams can be
obtained.
Mix of clay and sand, could constitute an excellent
local raw material for construction, limiting transport
of construction materials and then of CO2 emissions.
For example, the excavated earth coming from the
building site could be directly used for the construction itself. The final objective of our project is to study
the use of real earth soils to produce extruded soil/
cement composites. As a first step, the present paper
presents an experimental study on ternary mixes
cement/sand/kaolin to confirm the sustainability of
such mixes. The objectives of future project are to
study the use of real soils containing large amount of
clay and sand to produce extruded soil/cement composites and to refine the selection by using a multicriteria choice including mechanical properties, thermal
characteristic and environmental impact.
After a material and protocol presentation, an
investigation on formulations is shown: water quantities are investigated for different ternary mixes to
reach a shear yield stress of 20 kPa, as recommended
by Toutou et al. [28] for the shape stability of fresh
pastes. Then mechanical strengths (tensile and compressive) are measured for selected mixes and simple
mix-design rules are given to reach a researched
compressive strength. Sensitivity to water and dimensions stability which are of main concern for clay
materials are then investigated to finally reach a
discussion highlighting the promising use of the mixdesigned materials for building applications.

2 Materials and protocols


2.1 Tested materials
A Portland cement CEM I 52.5N CE CP2 of density
3,150 kg/m3 is used in this study. The specific surface
measured using a Blaine apparatus of this cement is
3,390 cm2/g.
The kaolin originates from an IMERYS quarry. Its
density is 2,260 kg/m3 and its chemical composition is
presented in Table 1. SEM capture of kaolin is shown
in Fig. 1. Kaolin platelet-shaped particles have a size
ranging from 5 to 50 lm.
A usual Loire river-sand (rounded) was used. It has
minimum/maximum sizes of 20 lm to 2 mm and an
absorption capacity of 2 %. Its density is 2,600 kg/m3
A High Range Water Reducing Admixture
(HRWRA, ChrysoFluid Optima 206) is used. The
HRWRA is a polycarboxylate type polymer. It is in
liquid form containing 20 % of dry material. Its
recommended dosage ranges from 0.3 to 3 % per
weight of cement. In this study, dosage was fixed at
1.5 %. Mixtures with and without HRWRA are tested
to estimate its efficiency to reduce water content in
fresh mixtures and to increase strength of hardened
mortars. From an environmental and an economical
point of view, its obviously better not use such
products.

2.2 Ternary mixes and mixing protocol


Studied mixes, presented in Fig. 2, are ternary mixes
of cement, sand and kaolin. Proportions on ternary
diagrams are mass ratios of dry powder (noted C, S and
K for respectively cement, sand and kaolin). At the
fresh state, paste behaviour is governed by the plastic
rheological behaviour of the matrix (micro scaled
interaction between cement and kaolin particles in
water suspension), whereas at the hardened state it
should be mainly dictated by the hydration of cement.
Selected mixes correspond to a balance between
qualities and defaults of each ingredient.

Table 1 Chemical composition of kaolin


Oxyde

Al2O3

Fe2O3

TiO2

CaO

MgO

K2O

Na2O

Li2O

Proportion

48.5

37.5

0.8

0.1

0.2

1.1

0.1

Traces

Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010

1001

Fig. 1 SEM capture of kaolin

0.0
1.0
0.2
0.8

3
0.4

0.6

KAOLIN

CEMENT

0.6
0.4
0.8
0.2

1.0
0.0

0.0
0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.0

SAND
Fig. 2 Ternary diagram (mass ratios) cementkaolinsand and
selected mixes (black squares)

In Fig. 1, three areas of the ternary diagram are not


studied because they do not fulfil simple rheological,
economical or environmental criteria. Area 1 corresponds to the mixes containing too much sand: these
mixes are not cohesive enough and are then not
extrudable. Area 2 eliminates kaolin mass ratios higher
than 80 % because these mixes are not strong enough at
the hardened state (compressive strength under 1 MPa
at 28 days of age). Area 3 corresponds to mixes
containing too much cement: these compositions are
unsustainable for the considered applications.
Extrudability criteria are provided in the literature
[17, 28]. The first one is given by Toutou et al. [28] and
concerns the properties linked to shape stability of the

fresh mixture after forming. According to Toutou et al.


[28], the shear yield stress value must be at least equal
to 20 kPa. This value ensures shape stability with an
acceptable extrusion load. The second criterion given
in [17, 28] is linked to the homogeneity of the mixture
during extrusion. During extrusion, liquid drainage
may occur through the granular skeleton of the fresh
material. Local drainage may lead to surface defects
and extrudates heterogeneity and have to be avoided.
As a result, the mix design approach consists in
finding for each studied mix the water content leading
to an extrudable sample. In our case, the extrudability
is defined by the Toutou et al. [28] rheological
standards ensuring shape stability.
Mixes are tested with and without HRWRA. The
HRWRA is added to the mixing water before water/
cement contact. HRWRA is expected to improve the
viscous and cohesive potential of clay in concrete at an
early age, as has been observed in recent studies [2123].
Mixing protocol consists in mixing water with
cement, sand and kaolin in a planetary Hobart mixer.
The mixing phase consists in three steps: 120 s at
0.37 s-1 (140 rpm), 60 s at rest for bowl scraping and
480 s at 0.74 s-1 (280 rpm). Yield stress is then
measured directly after mixing. If result is far from
20 kPa, a new mixture is tested with less or more water
if yield stress is respectively upper or lower than the
target of 20 kPa.
To control the validity of the Toutou criteria, screw
extrusions are also performed on qualified mixtures.
The surface quality and extrudates homogeneity are
checked. The used screw extruder is an Haendle
laboratory extruder, with a simple screw (50 mm in
diameter). The 40 mm long conical entry die consists
of a 50 mm in diameter circular entry section and a
15 9 25 mm2 rectangular exit section. Extrudates
surface quality and density evolution are checked
during extrusion. The used screw rotation velocity is
0.04 s-1 (15 rpm). It is noteworthy that all tested
materials remain homogeneous during extrusion and
that all extrudates present surface with no defect.
2.3 Yield stress measurements
Yield stress is measured using an Anton Paar Rheolab
QC rheometer equipped with vane geometry. The
measurement procedure is similar to the one used in
Mahaut et al. [29]. It can be noted that cement
stabilized soil rheology has already been studied [30].

1002

After a 1 min pre-shearing phase, a strain growth is


applied to the sample at a shear rate of 0.001 s-1 for
180 s. At such a low shear rate, viscosity effects are
negligible and yield stress can be computed from the
measured torque peak value at flow onset.
The vane geometry used in this study consists in
four blades around a cylindrical shaft. The blade
height is 8.8 mm and its diameter is 10 mm. When the
objective of 20 kPa is reached for a ternary mix, the
paste is poured in parallelepiped 4 cm 9 4 cm 9
16 cm form to make bending and compression samples. Tests are performed twice in order to check their
reproducibility.

Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010

samples cured for 28 days in an air conditioned


room at 20 1 C and a relative humidity of
50 5 %,
samples cured for 21 days in an air conditioned
room at 20 1 C and a relative humidity of
50 5 % and then for 7 days in a bath kept at
20 1 C,
samples cured for 28 days in a bath kept at
20 1 C (as written in Sect. 2.4).

Results were compared and make it possible to


describe the sensitivity of studied mixes on their
mechanical strengths.

2.4 Strength measurements


3 Experimental results
Compressive and bending strength are measured after
28 days of maturation on the 4 9 4 9 16 cm3 samples, kept in a bath at 20 1 C. These samples are
cast using a PVC pestle to ensure that mix fills the
mould. Mechanical tests were performed following
European standard EN 196-1 prescriptions [31]. For
each mix, three samples are tested in bending which
leads to six samples for compressive strength
measurements.
2.5 Shrinkage measurements
Shrinkage is monitored until dimensional stabilization
on 4 9 4 9 16 cm3 samples matured in an air conditioned room at 20 1 C and a relative humidity of
50 5 %. It is considered that the dimensional
stabilization is achieved when the variation of the
longitudinal length is \0.01 % during 24 h. For each
mix, shrinkage is measured on three different samples.
The measuring protocol follows the European standard EN 197-1 prescriptions [32].
2.6 Water sensitivity analysis
Water sensitivity is a major concern for the mechanical strength and stability of cement-stabilized clay
products [24, 33]. Cement-stabilized mechanical
strength and dimension stability are largely influenced
by curing conditions and water immersion. In order to
study the influence of water on the mechanical
strength of the samples, compressive strength measurements were performed on:

3.1 Water demand to obtain extrusion ability


of mixes
The approach consists in finding the water amount
required for each studied ternary mix to obtain a paste
with a yield stress value of 20 kPa (i.e. an extrudable
paste [28]). Water is added gradually. After each
addition, yield stress is measured until the paste shows
a 20 kPa yield stress. Figures 3 and 4 show the water
content obtained for studied ternary mixes, respectively with and without HRWRA. Isovalue curves are
plotted by linear interpolation of experimental results.
Observations of these two figures lead to two main
conclusions:

HRWRA retains its dispersing and deflocculating


efficiency, and water demand is lower to reach the
yield stress of 20 kPa. As shown in recent studies
[3436], HRWRA reduces shear strength by
improving dispersion and electrostatic equilibrium
between cement grains and also kaolin grains.
Water content to ensure a 20 kPa yield stress
sharply increases with kaolin ratio while sand
seems to have no or little influence on water
demand.

Water content was also measured for pure kaolin, and


for pure cement paste with HRWRA. Water contents
which ensures a 20 kPa yield stress are wk = 0.42 for
kaolin and wc = 0.21 for cement with HRWRA as
plotted in Fig. 3. It should be noted here that it was
impossible to obtain a 20 kPa cohesive paste for

Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010


0.0 0.21

1003

1.0

0.4

0.2
0.8

0.35

0.4

0.28

0.21

0.14

0.6

0.30

0.25

0.6

0.25
0.34

0.11

0.18

0.20

0.4

0.16
0.12

0.22

0.36

0.29
0.29
0.29

1.0

0.10

0.15
0.22 0.16
0.16
0.22

0.4

0.6

0.1

0.05
0.00

0.8

0.0
0.0

0.0
0.2

C=0.1
C=0.15
C=0.3
C=0.3
C=0.4
C=0.6
0.42K

0.2

0.2

0.42

0.0

0.3

0.15

0.8
0.37

W-wcC-wSS

0.40

1.0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.0

S
Fig. 3 Water content required to ensure a yield stress of 20 kPa
for mixes with 1.5 % HRWRA

Fig. 5 Part of water attributed to kaolin to ensure a 20 kPa


yield stress as a function of kaolin mass ratio for mixes with
HRWRA

0.0
1.0
0.2
0.8

0.40
0.35

0.4

0.3

0.6

0.6

0.24

0.36

0.25
0.20

0.19

0.28

0.30

C
0.4

0.18

0.24

0.15
0.10

0.8
0.38
0.36

0.31
0.31

1.0

0.17
0.25 0.18
0.18
0.24

0.2

0.00

0.0

0.42

0.0

0.05

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.0

S
Fig. 4 Water content required to ensure a paste yield stress of
20 kPa for mixes without HRWRA

cement paste without HRWRA (using mixing protocol


given in Sect. 2.2).
By following iso-cement ratio lines, it appears that
water required for the yield stress increases linearly
with kaolin mass ratio. As a consequence, it could
mean that the water demand of the mixes is led
separately by the water demand of each ingredient of
the mix. Then water demand W could be written as
follows:
W wc C ws S wk K

where wc and wk are the water required to ensure the


20 kPa yield stress for cement and kaolin. The water
absorbed by the sand grains is noted ws. C, S and
K denote the mass ratios of cement, sand and kaolin.

For mixes with HRWRA, the experiment gives


wc = 0.21. In concrete mix design, it is assumed that
a part of the cement paste water content is used to wet
the aggregates surface. The amount of this water
corresponds to the aggregates absorption coefficient
noted ws in our study. This coefficient corresponds to
the ratio between the wetting water mass and the sand
mass and was estimated by subtracting the mass of
wetted sand to the mass of the same sand dried in a
drying oven. The obtained value is ws = 0.02 which is
in agreement with commonly used values of sand
absorption coefficient. Using these values, Fig. 5
shows the evolution of W-wc C-ws S as a function
of K, for all ternary mixes with HRWRA. It shows
that the points are in a line. A least squares regression
gives a slope of 0.42 (regression coefficient of 0.98)
which correlates with Eq. 1.
For mixes without HRWRA, as previously written,
the value of wc cannot be measured. However, this
value can be extrapolated by finding the wc value
which provides the best fit between experimental
curve (W-wc C-ws S) = f(K) and modelled curve [i.e.
(W-wc C-ws S) = 0.42 K). The results are given in
Fig. 6, which indicates a value of 0.26 for wc, with a
regression coefficient of 0.97. Using those values,
relative error between modelled and experimental
values is always lower than 9 %. The average relative
error equals 1.9 %.
As a result, we can conclude that the water required
to ensure an equivalent yield stress of 20 kPa for the
ternary mix obeys a simple law of mixtures (Eq. 1).

1004

Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010


0.0
1.0

W-wcC-wSS

0.4

With HRWRA
Without HRWRA
0.42K

0.2
0.8

90.00

0.3

80.00

0.4

49

57

81

0.6

70.00

60.00

0.2
0.6

34
23

52

59

76

50.00

0.4

40.00

41
58

0.1

30.00

0.8
9

18

5
2

0.0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

10.00
0.00

0.0

1.0

0.0

K
Fig. 6 Part of water attributed to kaolin to ensure a 20 kPa
yield stress as a function of kaolin mass ratio for mixes with
HRWRA (wc = 0.21; ws = 0.02) and without HRWRA
(wc = 0.26; ws = 0.02)

20.00

0.2

1.0

0.0

31
18
9

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.0

S
Fig. 7 Wet compression strength (MPa) at 28 days for mixes
with HRWRA

0.0
1.0

3.2 Compressive strength


0.2

Compressive strengths are measured on wet samples


after 28 days of immersion in a 20 C bath. The
samples can be considered as 4 9 4 9 4 cm3 cubes.
As written in Sect. 2.4, tests are performed according
to normalized tests for mortars (EN 196-1). Compressive strengths are noted fc28 and are plotted in Figs. 7
and 8, respectively, for mixes with and without
HRWRA.
Mixes with HRWRA have higher compressive
strength. The addition of HRWRA allows for a
reduction in water amount providing for an average
increase of mechanical strength of 7 % (in a range of
212 % depending on the ternary mix). The mechanical strength of cement pastes is generally due to
cement hydration. Thus, it increases with cement ratio,
as observed on ternary diagrams. In the previous
section, it was shown that the water mass ratio
required to ensure a yield stress of 20 kPa for kaolin
is two times higher than the mass ratio required for
cement and 40 times the mass ratio due to water
absorbed by the sand. The main consequence is that
the water required to achieve the expected paste
rheology is mainly governed by the kaolin ratio. It
explains why iso-strength lines are almost parallel to
kaolin ratios on diagrams.
To be able to predict the strength of a given mix, it
should be interesting to know if such mortars, with
high contents of kaolin, behave as classical sand/
cement mortars. Figure 9 shows experimental results

90.00

0.8

80.00

0.4

44

0.6

60

70.00

60.00
50.00

0.6

51

31
24

0.4

40.00

54

43

30.00

0.8
9

14
2

27
15
7

20.00

0.2

10.00
0.00

1.0

0.0
0.0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.0

S
Fig. 8 Wet compression strength (MPa) at 28 days for mixes
without HRWRA

for mixtures without HRWRA. Even with varying


cement and kaolin ratios, experimental points are on
the same curve in a diagram fc28 versus W/C. It
highlights that fc28 only depends on the water to
cement ratio, as for classical mortars. With these
conservation conditions (in a 20 C water bath), kaolin
acts as a high water demand aggregate and does not
interact with cement. Classical models can then be
tested: the Bolomey relation [37], used in a recent
study on the mix design of concrete with a high level
of mineral additions [38]; the Feret relationship [39],
and the Neville model with the method proposed by
Colak [40].
The Bolomey model is the simplest: it provides the
compressive strength fc28 as a function of the water to

Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010

1005

cement ratio W/C, a fitting parameter depending on the


aggregate quality KB and cement class rc28, i.e.
compressive strength of standard mortar. Neglecting
entrapped air, it can be written as:


1
fc28 KB  rC28
 0:5
2
W=C
Here rc28 = 52.5 MPa and KB is the fitting parameter. As shown in Fig. 9, it does not fit well experimental data for W/C ratio over 2. The best fitting curve
was found for a KB value of 0.348.
The second model is the model of Neville, with the
determination method proposed by C
olak [40]:


W=C W=Cm n  1 W=Ca n
fc28 ra
W=Ca W=Cm n  1 W=C
3
where ra is the strength corresponding to (W/C)a,
measured by experimentation; n = 12 when the
binder is cement as proposed in Colak et al. [40];
(W/C)m is the value of (W/C) for which compressive
strength reaches a maximum value. Here using the
computation proposed in Colak et al. [40], for an age
of 28 days, (W/C)m = 0.193. This model is the most
realistic from a physical point of view, because it takes
into account the strength decrease when water content
decreases and becomes not sufficient to hydrate all
cement particles, while other used models provide
compressive strength tending to infinity when water
content tends to 0. Unfortunately, with the above

values, this model does not match the experimental


points for low W/C ratios (\0.3), as shown in Fig. 9.
The third tested model is the Feret model, based on
the balance between binder volume and sum of water,
binder and air volumes:

2
Vc
fc28 KF  rC28
4
Vc VW VA
where Vc, Vw and Va are respectively the cement, water
and air volumes, KF traduces aggregate quality and
rc28 is the cement class, still equal to 52.5 MPa.
Neglecting entrapped air and writing strength as a
function of (W/C), it gives:

2
1
fc28 KF  rC28
5
1 W=C qc =qw
With qc and qw respectively the specific mass of
cement and water.
The best fitting model in the present case is the Feret
model, with an aggregate coefficient KF = 5.312 which
corresponds to a good quality aggregate. Figure 10
shows all experimental results and the Feret fitting
curve, obtained by least squares method (R2 = 0.975).
This is in agreement with results obtained by Kawamura
and Kasai [41] which show that the compressive
strength of cement/soil mixes can be written as a
function of W/C.
To conclude, sand and kaolin mixes can be
considered as an equivalent aggregate. The sand/
kaolin mass ratio only governing the water required to

75

75

fc28 (MPa)

100

fc28 (MPa)

100

50

25

50

25

Fig. 9 Wet compressive strength fc28 for an age of 28 days for


mixes without HRWRA. Comparison of Bolomey, Feret and
Cola`k models with experimental results

Fig. 10 Evolution of wet compression strength in function to


W/C for all tested mixes. Comparison of experimental results
with the Feret model

1006

Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010


1.00
With HRWRA
Without HRWRA

0.75

ft28/fc28

ensure the adequate rheology (and then the compression strength). Combining Eqs. 1 and 4, we can write a
useful relationship able to predict the compression
strength for a given ternary mix:
"
#2
1

fc28 KF  rC28 
6
1 wc ws CS wk KC qqc

0.50

It can be noted that the KF value can be different for


different clay/sand couples. This parameter has to be
experimentally adjusted as for conventional concrete
mix design.

0.25

0.00
0

10

K/C

3.3 Bending strength


As shown by Fig. 11, bending strength is directly
linked to W/C mass ratio. The bending strength ranges
between 1.5 MPa for high W/C mixes to 21 MPa for
the lowest W/C mix. The evolution trend is similar to
the one observed for the compressive strength (Fig. 9).
Those results correlate with the results obtained for
cement stabilized clays [26, 33, 42].
The effect of kaolin content on the ratio of bending
over compressive strength is shown on Fig. 12. This
ratio varies from 0.2 for mortar mixes (i.e. without
kaolin) to 0.8 for high content kaolin mixes. The
values obtained for mortar mixes are close to the ratios
predicted by Eurocode 2 European standard [43] and
to ratios given by recent work on concrete [44] (i.e.
around 0.2).
Figure 12 suggests that compacted kaolin microstructure composed of thin oriented layered particles is
more able to resist bending or traction as proposed by

With HRWRA
Without HRWRA

ft28 (MPa)

20

Fig. 12 Evolution of the wet bending/wet compressive strength


ratio in function to the kaolin/cement volume ratio

Vasseur et al. [45]. Such ability for high content kaolin


mixes to present good bending strength has already been
observed for claycementwood composites [46].
3.4 Shrinkage
The shrinkage of samples cured in the air-conditioned
room is studied until dimensional stabilization. Figure 13 shows the evolution of the shrinkage at 28 days
versus kaolin volume fraction. It can be conclude, in a
first approach, that shrinkage linearly increases with
the kaolin volume fraction in the range of used kaolin
volume fraction. This may be explained by the high
water demand of kaolin and consequently by the high
amount of evaporated water during curing. Shrinkage
values range from 0.2 % for mixes without kaolin to
0.75 % for the maximal kaolin volume fraction. Those
values correlate with the results obtained in previous
studies [33, 42, 47]. The measured shrinkage is much
lower than the shrinkage obtained on pure clay without
cement in [33]. To conclude, the shrinkage of studied
mixes does not prohibit their use in the precasting
building industry as the obtained values are closed to
those of conventional concrete mixes.

10

3.5 Water sensitivity

0
0

W/C
Fig. 11 Evolution of wet bending strength in function to
W/C for all tested mixes

As shown by previous studies, cement stabilized clay


blocks at a hard state are greatly affected by their
moisture content [26, 33, 42, 47]. As a result,
compressive strength of dry and immersed samples
are different. On one hand, for dry samples, water
desaturation induces matrix suction that strengthens

1007

1.00

0.75

0.50

With HRWRA
Without HRWRA

0.25

0.00
0.00

0.25

0.50

fc28dry/fc28,immersed

Shrinkage (%)

Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010

With HRWRA
Without HRWRA

0.75

Kaolin volume fraction

10

K/C

Fig. 13 Evolution of the shrinkage at 28 days of age for all


mixes in function to the kaolin volume fraction Uk

Fig. 14 Evolution of dry/wet compressive strength ratio at


28 days in function to the kaolin/cement volume ratio

the material. For clay soil, the matrix suction acts as a


pre-stressing which increases grains and hydrates
cohesion [4850]. On the other hand, water immersion
induces the development of pore water pressure and the
liquefaction of kaolin. It breaks some material bonds
and reduces the mechanical strength [26, 33, 42].
As a consequence and as it had been previously
observed, dry samples show better compressive and
tensile strengths than immersed samples. The dry/
immersed compressive strength ratio seems to
increase with the clay volume content [33, 42, 47]. It
is also reported that mechanical strength loss due to
immersion can be partially recovered after drying [33].
Mechanical tests performed on samples conditioned
in three different ways confirm the previous works
(Fig. 14). Dry/immersed compressive strength ratio
ranges from 1 to 3 depending on the K/C ratio. We note
that the immersion time (7 or 28 days) has no influence
on compressive strength. As a result, immersed
compressive strengths after 7 or 28 days of immersion
are considered as a same sample group. Moreover, if an
immersed sample is placed in the air conditioned room
during 7 days, the measured compressive strength is
similar to those of the dry sample. As a consequence,
we can state that the mechanical strength loss is quasitotally reversible. Dry/immersed compressive strength
ratio tends toward 1 when cement volume fraction is
higher than kaolin volume content. For such mixes,
immersion has little influence and hardened mixes
behave quite similarly to common concrete or mortar.
Then, the dry/immersed compressive strength ratio
increases with the kaolin/cement volume ratio. This

leads to the conclusion that water immersion has a


dramatic influence when cement hydrates percolation
is not achieved through the sample.
In order to prevent the possible effect of water
immersion on cement-stabilized clay blocks, two
strategies can be chosen. The first one is to consider
only the immersed compressive strength of the
material in order to avoid damages linked to the loss
of compressive strength [41]. The second one is to
protect the material surface by a specific treatment
(cement or lime render, polymers) in order to avoid
water exposition [42]. The second solution allows us
to consider a mix containing only 10 % of cement
solid mass ratio (with K = 0.3 and S = 0.6) which
presents a dry compressive strength of 17 MPa (for
only 9 MPa immersed compressive strength).

4 Discussion on possible practical uses


In this study, sand and kaolin are used to model the
behavior of soils with a high content of kaolinite for
extrusion after cement stabilization. Clay material is
seen here as a sustainable local construction raw
material with reduced transportation, economical and
environmental costs.
Through the observation of all the collected data,
two methods of practical use appear:

Stabilized clay blocks


Concrete with high content of mineral additions
(used as cement substitution).

1008

For cement stabilized clay blocks, the admixtured


mix containing a mass ratio of 8.5 % cement, 50.8 %
sand, 25.4 % kaolin and 18 % water (C = 10 %;
S = 60 %; K = 30 % in Figs. 4 and 8) presents
compressive strengths of 9 MPa at an immersed state
and 17 MPa at a dry state. This mix design seems to
present the best compromise between hardened performances and cement content. However, this study
focuses only on the mortar scale. If gravels are added in
the mix, we can expect that the cement mass ratio will
decrease while the compressive strength will remain
quite the same (as predicted by the Feret modeling). In
this way, mixes with 70 % in mass of the above mix
design and 30 % in mass of 2/6 sands provide an
immersed compressive strength of 7.4 MPa with only
5.9 % of cement (which is less than the cement content
of cinder-blocks). Further works have to focus on the
concrete scale and on the optimization of the granular
skeleton to reduce the cement content.
For concrete with a high content of mineral
additions, the strategy is the same as used in Khokhar
et al. [38]. A mix containing mass ratio of 17 %
cement, 50.8 % sand, 17 % kaolin and 15.2 % water
presents compressive strengths of 31 MPa at an
immersed state and 40 at a dry state which is enough
to be used as extruded precast concrete elements.
The result obtained cannot be used for swelling clay
as shown by Temimi et al. [22]. For example, clay
containing more than ten percents in mass of montmorillonite can not be stabilized.

Materials and Structures (2013) 46:9991010

between 8 and 10 % of cement in mass and cured in an


air conditioned room (20 C, 50 % relative humidity)
show a dry compressive strength values ranging from
5 to 18 MPa depending on the kaolin content (the wet
compressive strength ranges from 2 to 9 MPa). Kaolin
acts as high water demand aggregate without interaction with cement as already assessed for cement
stabilized adobes as shown by Millogo and Morel [26].
As a result, compressive strength only depends on W/
C ratio. It can be noted that resistance decrease of
samples in wet conditions is reversible: material
recovers its compressive strength after desaturation.
Then, the stability of the mixes in terms of
dimension and water immersion has been studied.
Firstly, it shows that shrinkage is acceptable (\0.8 %)
for all the tested mix designs. Secondly, it shows that
for mixes containing more kaolin volume than cement
volume, mechanical strength is largely influenced by
the saturation state. This water influence increases with
the kaolin content.
Finally, practical uses of such ternary mixes were
discussed. Collected data show that cement stabilized
clay blocks and concrete with a high content of fine
mineral additions can be designed with clay/cement
mixes. However, buildings made of such blocks
should be completely protected from moisture ingress
due to rain and natural weathering conditions in order
to optimize durability and mechanical strength.
Acknowledgments The authors would like to acknowledge
Lafarge and Chryso for materials supply, European community
and French government for its financial support trough a state/
region project contract.

5 Conclusions
In this work, ternary mixes of sand, cement and kaolin
are studied in order to design extruded building products
with reduced environmental impact. In a first step, the
amount of water required to reach the extrusion
rheological criterion and the immersed mechanical
strength are studied. Results lead to a compressive
strength prediction tool (derived from the Feret model)
which give the compressive strength at 28 days as a
function of the water demand to reach the extrusion
criterion for kaolin and clay, the water absorbed by the
sand, the cement standard compressive strength and the
cement, kaolin and sand mass ratios.
The results of mechanical tests show that using
ternary mixes of cement, sand and kaolin can lead to
an interesting compressive strength. Mixes containing

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