Materials and Structures

, Volume 49, Issue 11, pp 4463–4482 | Cite as

Seaweed biopolymers as additives for unfired clay bricks

  • Cassandra A. Dove
  • Fiona F. Bradley
  • Siddharth V. Patwardhan
Original Article


Unfired clay bricks are an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional masonry materials such as fired bricks and concrete blocks but their use is currently limited by their relatively poor mechanical and durability properties. While products like cement and lime are commonly added to earthen materials in an effort to improve their physical performance, these additives can also have a negative influence on the overall environmental impact. The purpose of this research is to investigate the use of alginate, a natural and renewable biopolymer obtained from brown seaweeds, as an admixture for unfired clay blocks. A total of 5 different alginates have been investigated and combined with 3 soil compositions to create prototype specimens which have then been characterised and compared in relation to flexural and compressive strength, microstructure, abrasive strength and hygroscopic behaviour. The results demonstrate that improvements in mechanical strength are dependent on the type of alginate used and the composition of the soil. The greatest increase in compressive strength is achieved using an alginate sourced from the Laminaria Hyperborea seaweed and offers a value more than double that of the equivalent control specimen. Increases in the alginate dosage do not necessarily lead to an increase in strength suggesting that there is an optimum concentration at which strength improvement is most effective.


Biopolymer Alginate Seaweed Clay Brick CEB Adobe Polysaccharide 



The author wishes to thank the funding providers for the project including the University of Strathclyde, the Energy Technology Partnership and Marine Biopolymers Ltd. Acknowledgement is also made to Ibstock for the provision of materials, the Advanced Materials Research Lab at the University of Strathclyde where the experimental work was conducted and the Department of Chemistry for the ICP analysis.


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Copyright information

© RILEM 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchitectureUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowUK
  2. 2.School of EngineeringThe University of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  3. 3.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringThe University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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