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Polyethylene Terephthalate Bottles: An Alternative Construction Material in

Masonry Structures

Santosh Acharya1,Utsav Neupane1,Sushant Tiwari1, ,Sameep Adhikari1 , Sujan Bishwa Karma1

1
Institute of engineering, Pulchowk Campus, B.E. undergraduate fellows
..
Keywords: PET Bottle, Construction Material, Environment Friendly, Masonry Structure.

Abstract

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Bottle House is basically a structure made up of PET bottles instead
of bricks filled with mud, bonded together with a mixture of mud and lime. Each mud filled bottles are
held together with string (Nylon Rope) around their neck so as to make them firm. A Post-Disaster Needs
Assessment (PDNA), completed in June 2015, found that the earthquake sequence of 2015 in Nepal
destroyed 490,000 houses- mostly traditional mud-brick mud-stone houses built and occupied by the rural
poor [7]. In such scenario this type of structure can prove to be a reliable shelter for affected people in rural
areas. Unlike the conventional mud houses made of mud bricks, PET bottle structure is more liable to the
seismic resistance as it is supported by very strong walls with a solid structure.

Introduction

For a developing country like Nepal, which is prone to geological hazards like earthquake and the
availability of rebar and cement at every nook of the country being difficult, PET bottles can be a better
solution to build a seismic resistant structure. PET bottle structure is basically made by filling PET bottles
with mud and sand as the main building material and their neck tied with the Nylon ropes. Similar to the
construction of other masonry structures, with a proper guidance, PET bottle structure can be economical
as well. According to a survey data, 2 tons of waste PET bottles are collected daily from Kathmandu
valley only, out of which 20,000 bottles are used as construction materials. [2]

Scope of the Project:

1. Use of cylindrical material (PET bottles) instead of conventional rectangular material (stones and
bricks) as a building construction material.
2. Non-RCC and seismic resistance structure. [1]
3. Use of locally available materials such as wood, mud and local manpower for the construction
purpose. So, can prove as a low cost housing.
4. Eco-friendly material i.e. reuse of PET bottles.
5. The house is climatic-constancy in design, so there is no need for heating and cooling systems. [3]
Methodology

Infilling of PET Bottles for construction

The construction starts by collecting, cleansing and drying of the PET bottles and preparing them for
construction by filling with locally available materials: mud or soil. The infill consisting of 25% sand
and 75% mud is considered to be the best infilling material. Mud absorbs the impact load(s) and sand
helps in the reinforcement of the mud. A proper filling is done manually either using hands or locally
available wood so as to ensure the uniform compaction.

Foundation of structure

To begin the foundation work, as per the building code(NBC), the required volume of earth is dug out
for laying the vertical wall and circular wall sections. Circular wall sections act as a column. And for
the column, a further 2 to 4 feet earth is dug out at the corners before putting a layer of lime mortar
and nylon fishnet on top of it [1]. Unlike traditional rectangular columns, for PET bottle structure, a
circular wall section is preferred. A series of 10 to 14 PET bottles are tied neck to neck towards the
center by using nylon rope so that they form a circular section with a space at the center. A vertical
post, after caulking with coal tar, is placed at the center (Fig: 1A). Further, the space between the
bottles at the periphery of the circular wall section is filled up with the undressed stones with large
size and high density together with lime slurry so that they act as footing which prevents the buckling
of the post. As the circular wall section approaches the level of wall section, a layer of timber, usually
bamboo, is laid all around from each column to the other before covering it with lime mortar. This is
adapted as a concept of strap beam. A layer of nylon fishnets is then laid on top of mortar at each wall
section. One of the nylon rope is now tied with the post, and then it is tied neck to neck and body to
body with bottle on the circular wall section which provides additional strength and stability. The
continuation of rope tied from body to body on circular section is further tied with the bottles laid on
the wall section until it reaches to another circular wall section, which helps the structural units to act
as a single entity.

Fig: 1A Bottles tied in Circular Wall Section


Rising the wall section of structure for PET bottles:

As the structure begins to progress on the wall section, bottles are laid side by side with space
between each bottle as per Nepal Building Code (NBC). The covering space in between is filled by
mortar. Another course of bottles is laid in such a way that each bottle rest on the space between two
bottles laid on lower course (Fig 2A). Bottles on each course are connected with the vertical post and
hence the bottles on circular wall section using fishnet. In similar way, walls are raised course by
course. To provide additional strength against sidewise moment and to inhibit cracking that occurs
mostly in unreinforced masonry structures, a continuation of nylon rope, earlier tied on each bottles of
circular wall section from neck to neck, is now tied neck to neck on the bottles of the wall section in a
cross-triangulation pattern (Fig:2B). As the plinth level is reached, another layer of bamboo post, as a
strap beam, can be added before proceeding on with the wall section.

The flooring can be accomplished with the PET bottles in contrast to the use of bricks and gravel as in
RCC structures. The purpose of lintel beam in case of windows and doors can also be well
accomplished with the help of nylon fishnets fully stretched from either side of a window or a door up
to at least a lap distance of 60 cm. As the rising of wall section is accomplished up to the level of
roofing, the fishnets initially laid at the bottom is brought up to the roofing level so placed that a
single quadrilateral unit of a fishnet fits into the caps of bottles which protrude out of the wall section.
Finally, the walls and circular section are covered by plastering with lime-mud mortar which
increases its resistance towards fire. The roofing is completed with a wooden truss structure.

Fig: 2A-Rising of wall section Fig:2B-Tying of nylon rope and laying of


nylon fishnet
Engineering Properties of PET bottles: [6]

Coefficient of friction: 0.2 - 0.4


Tensile Strength: 70-700 MPa
Density: 1300-1400 kg/m3
Elongation at break: 60-165 %
Bonding strength: 120 MPa
Youngs Modulus: 3100 MPa
Shear Modulus: 750-2000 MPa
Heating Temperature: 254-256C
Initial tear strength: 18-54 g.tem-1
Coefficient of thermal expansion: (20-80) *10-6 K-1
Thermal conductivity: 0.15-0.4 Wm-1K-1 @ 23C
Flammability: Self extinguishing
Water absorption (over 24 hours) : 0.1 %

Nylon rope as a tie material:

Nylon rope is prepared from coal, petroleum, air and water. It is a polyamide thermoplastic produced by
series of condensation reaction between an amine and organic acids.

Properties

1) Good in abrasion, tough and flexible with high impact strength.


2) Resistant to most of the solvents and chemicals
3) Strength of Nylon fishnet -6: 28CN-tex and Nylon fishnet is strong enough to replace steel in a
concrete.

Comparison between brick masonry house and PET bottle house:

One PET bottle house structure costs NRs. 850 per square foot. [1]
Around 10,000 bottles are required for a 250 square foot house. [1]

1Kg of PET Bottle costs NRs. 25. 1 Kg contains 8 to 12 bottles. [2]
Plastic bottles used for the walls, joist ceiling and concrete column offers 45% diminution in
the final cost for a single house. Separation of various components of cost shows that the use
of local manpower in making bottle panels can effectively reduce cost up to 75% as compared
to building the walls using the brick and concrete block. [1]
PET bottle walls can bear up to 4.3 N/mm when the bottles are filled with sand only. Sand,
mixed with mud, can withstand greater pressure. [3]
For construction Time and speed of Execution for 5 persons team- rate of working in one day
for plastic wall is 15% faster compared to brick wall of 120 m2. [3]
Transportation of materials cost for plastic bottle wall construction is less than brick wall.
Plastic bottle wall construction requires less manpower as compare to brick wall construction.
Strength and load capacity for plastic bottle wall construction is 20 times more than brick wall
construction.
The PET bottle structure has the added advantage of being bullet proof, fire and earthquake
resistant, with the interior maintaining a constant temperature of 18 C (64F). [4]
Discussions and Conclusion

PET bottles are easily available and at very low cost. For the construction of the PET bottle structure,
the required number of bottles are either available locally or can be transported to the site at a very low
cost. Even though the friction of the bottle is not as much as that of a brick so as to form a formidable
structure with the cementing material on its own, on using the Nylon fishnet or rope, a single storied
structure becomes as much stronger as that of a brick masonry structure which are strengthened by steel
rods. Since the Nylon fishnet is all around the structure, from the foundation up to the first floor level, the
PET bottle house upon its completion acts as a single monolithic unit thereby reducing the risk of damage
by brittle failure. Further, during the occurrence of the seismic loads, the fishnets act as a cage preventing
the falling out of the structural units. The moment generated during such lateral loads is transferred to the
vertical post and ultimately into the ground, thereby, reducing the risk of Out of Plane and In Plane
Failure. However, the disaster of fire is always there and the low melting temperature of PET bottles do
not support our cause for a safe housing structure. But the infill of sand and mud being non-inflammable
inhibit the further damage that can be caused by the fire as compared to the RCC flammable structures.
The nylon ropes absorb water which causes reduction in strength and impact properties. So, these ropes
must be treated with water repellant coatings.

This project has basically focused on the use of non-rectangular construction material. That is why,
cylindrical PET bottles are used. Use of PET bottles, does not only reduce the quantity of non-
biodegradable pollutant but also prepare a structure with climatic stability itself. Involvement of local
manpower and use of locally available resources has made the structure time effective and economic
which is the foremost requirement for post-earthquake reconstruction. The model for case study is
extracted from site-visiting of PET bottle house at Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI), Chakrapath,
Kathmandu.

Acknowledgements

We would like to express our deepest appreciation to Er. Aashish Tiwari, Structural Engineer, Institute of
Engineering consultancy service (IECS) for his value able time and guidance in regard to guiding to study
and preparing this report. Without his guidance and persistent help this report would not have been
possible.

We like to thank Lecturer Er. Pradip Koirala, for his concern toward our report and valuable suggestions
regarding the Masonry Structure. In addition, we thank Civil Engineering Students Society Nepal (CESS
NEPAL) for providing us opportunity to demonstrate model regarding this project in Civil Engineering
Exhibition cum Competition 2072.

We would also like to thank Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI) for providing us their PET Bottle
structure analysis during research of the project.
References

1. Samarpan foundation. (2011). House construction with plastic bottles


http://samarpanfoundation.org
2. Himalayan Climate Initiative http://www.himalayanclimate.org/
3. Yahaya A. The sandglass construction material Nigeria's Development Association for
Renewable Energies, http://throughthesandglass.typepad.com/
4. Aditya R., Mohammad S. P., Nilesh B. Jadhwar, Uzair k., Sagar W. D., (2015). Investigating
the Application of Waste Plastic Bottle as a Construction Material-A Review Vol. 16
5. Job B., Arithea N., (2013). Cut costs with a plastic bottle house
6. http://www.azom.com
7. http://worldbank.org
8. Rajput R. K. (2007). Engineering materials: including construction materials 3rd Ed. S. Chand
& company, New York
9. Earthbench (2016). How-To Bottle Brick. http//earthbench.org
10. Lauren V., (2016). How to Build a Plastic Bottle Wall
11. Dishank T., Akash S.; (2016). Use of waste plastic bottle as conventional construction material.
12. Nepal Building Code (2060)

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