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Compressed earth blocks

Cristian Lavaque


Joined: Aug 17, 2005
Posts: 14
Location: Taxco, Mexico
I've found this page a while ago and liked the concept a lot. Has anyone had or heard of any experience with them?

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/fwehman/
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
  We are currently in production (our 3rd day) of CEB in the Caribbean islands. It is being accepted well and we have numerous jobs lined up for the near future. Our prices are equal to cement blocks and the future looks bright. WE are the first of our kind here.
Steven B
Cristian Lavaque


Joined: Aug 17, 2005
Posts: 14
Location: Taxco, Mexico
Cool. What machines are you using? Cause after posting this, I found that there's other models available.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
We have the Powell and son 360 (out of New Mexico) and two cinva rams that we had made locally.
Cristian Lavaque


Joined: Aug 17, 2005
Posts: 14
Location: Taxco, Mexico
Thanks a lot for your reply, I'll look into them. How is business going with that in the Caribbean Islands so far?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14159
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
So the idea is that you buy a contraption that makes the "bricks" out of dirt and then you stack the bricks to make a home?


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Lost Chief


Joined: May 10, 2009
Posts: 24
there is a group of people in Missouri building an Open Source CEB press right now.  They have already finished the first test model and are working on the second version right now.  This model compares to models that cost around 40,000 and produce 6-8 bricks a minute.  Pretty much when they are finished you will be able to buy all the materials and have a steele shop fab the metal parts so all you have to do is built it for around 6,000.

www.factorefarm.org


www.myspace.com/lostchief
cnsilver Hatfield


Joined: Jun 10, 2009
Posts: 14
Lost Chief, When will this press be available?  A friend and I are thinking of buying one together for several projects.    Are there any seminars for newbies?
Cristian Lavaque


Joined: Aug 17, 2005
Posts: 14
Location: Taxco, Mexico
Paul, yes, that's the idea.

Here's a website one website I like for this, although their machine is manual, but quite versatile:

http://www.earth-auroville.com/?nav=menu&pg=auram&id1=7&lang_code=en

I've seen hydraulic machines elsewhere. There's even one that outputs a long block, more like a beam.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3UoDgRnDqs

I'd love an hydraulic version of the Auram press.

The blocks could also be made interlocking and used to build stacking them mostly dry:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6IfjpZ4pOY
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14159
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Oh wow.  You can really build stuff out of legos?

Cristian Lavaque


Joined: Aug 17, 2005
Posts: 14
Location: Taxco, Mexico
Yeah!

It's a beautiful building method... You get a really solid building, for a very low cost, actually.

I dare say this is my favorite building technique, compressed earth blocks.

Second best would be adobe blocks. I like it because it's also very cheap, but I can do it even if I don't have the machine. A great technique to increase the speed is one I found at Adobe Building Systems.

http://www.adobebuilding.com/Our%20System/oursystem.html
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
By the way, the open source press is commercially available now. Hopefully they'll release production details soon.

http://openfarmtech.org/weblog/?p=1318


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vkirchner McCoy


Joined: Oct 21, 2009
Posts: 28
I can help you with details and dimensions on the CEB press version 1, I was working on a formal set of prints for that version when my Father passed away.  So I have fallen behind.  I do not have the details of the version 2 press.

Vince
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Sounds like a mod. that could be done to a log spliter.
charles c. johnson


Joined: Dec 02, 2009
Posts: 369
i bet you could use a modified bench press also
Wyatt Smith


Joined: Feb 19, 2010
Posts: 111
Location: Midwest zone 6



http://dayonedesign.blogspot.com/2009_05_01_archive.html
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1314
Location: Chihuahua Desert
    
    6
We built part of our house with CEBs.  We loved working with them.  Very quick, and very easy.

We also did the floors of our house with them:
http://www.velacreations.com/cebfloors.html

Our CEBs were stabilized with 5-10% cement, but you could use lime as well.

It would be nice to see an open source manual brick press someday...


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Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
velacreations wrote:you could use lime as well.


I've read some soils react much better than others do, to lime. It won't hurt, but sometimes it doesn't help as much. Sometimes it works better, pound for pound, than Portland cement.

velacreations wrote:It would be nice to see an open source manual brick press someday...


I think I agree. I really like watching the progress at Factor e Farm, partly because they make multi-purpose tools. I think a manual open-source press could potentially be designed to accept attachments for wood splitting, strength testing, vegetable oil extraction, etc.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1314
Location: Chihuahua Desert
    
    6
I am a big fan of Factor E Farm, but a lot of their stuff is geared towards the developed world, which is great, but the developing world has a huge need for affordable housing, and a machine like their brick press is beyond what most folks or even villages could manage.  Now, if it was manually operated, you could take out a huge portion of the cost right there.

The Auramville folks have some nice presses and brick machines, but not being open source, you pretty much have to buy them direct (expensive).

A manual open source machine would be a big achievement where I live in Mexico, and I can imagine for a lot of other areas as well.  If it could do some other things, like wood splitting, oil, honey and juice extraction, that would be wonderful.

Factor E Farm has a power cube machine, which is basically a modular power source, which I think is a very revolutionary idea.  With a portable and modular power source, maintaining different sets of multi-purpose tools then becomes possible for a small homestead.
Cloudpiler Hatfield


Joined: Mar 15, 2010
Posts: 67
I'm just finishing my second project with hybrid light clay/straw walls with cimblock outer skin.  Ideally, the cimblocks should go on the inside of the wall with the more insulative clay straw on the outside, but I'm retrofitting cheap, discard mobile homes and the studwall works perfectly for the clay straw.

My cimram is a one block at a time unit that was very easy to construct.  Nothing fancy.  Takes some muscles but makes excellent earthblocks that have held up for the first season even without the finished outer plaster.  The outer plaster really does protect the earthen block, so the fact that these have made it is good news.  Always remember, any water causes earthblocks to melt.  Protect them with plaster and maintain the plaster yearly.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1314
Location: Chihuahua Desert
    
    6
our earth blocks are stabilized with a bit of lime and/or cement. (no more than 5% stablizer).  I have left them in water for more than 2 months without any effect.  I don't like plastering them, because I like the way they look exposed.
Cloudpiler Hatfield


Joined: Mar 15, 2010
Posts: 67
I've never liked using cement or lime in my building projects.  I've seen what it does (eventually) to earthen walls.  I know that just a little to stabilize earth has been the common practice, and is probably beneficial, but if I can obtain the same results without the added embodied energy, I like.

Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1314
Location: Chihuahua Desert
    
    6
so, how do you achieve the same results?  I thought you said yours were subject to water?  What do you use in your plaster?

Lime is a fairly low-energy material.  It also sequesters CO2 over time.

To me, the relatively small amount of lime required is insurance against water damage in the future.
Cloudpiler Hatfield


Joined: Mar 15, 2010
Posts: 67
I like the look of plaster over the blocks better than the blocks themselves.  I use a plaster formula that allows me to leave the blocks just as they came out of the cimram.

One half part local clay slip
Three parts red local sand
Two parts fesque hulls
One part flour boiled in one part water

The enzymes in the hull combine with the flour paste to make a fairly water resistant (not proof) final plaster with a pleasing texture and color.  I am not adverse to maintenance of my earthen walls, so this formula is perfect for me.

With the usual three plaster skin over the blocks, we end up with about an inch of plaster on the surface.  Takes a whole lot to get at the blocks.  Basically, direct running water or constant drip.  Our overhangs and other design elements prevent this.
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
We've seriously considered purchasing the CEB press and some of the additional mold plates from Aureka/Auram/whatever - the company in India.  Has anyone used that specific piece of equipment?  Any thoughts on it?

Thanks,
Doug
inlikeflint Hatfield


Joined: Dec 30, 2010
Posts: 12
elsyr wrote:
We've seriously considered purchasing the CEB press and some of the additional mold plates from Aureka/Auram/whatever - the company in India.  Has anyone used that specific piece of equipment?  Any thoughts on it?

Thanks,
Doug


They have videos on Youtube on several CEB makers. It may be just as efficient to hire a couple of guys with the hand operated makers, or a hydraulic press with your own brick form than to fork out the money they want for one of those contractor grade CEB machines.

IMO... I still think rammed earth is way more cost effective & stronger than CEB. I think building codes don't allow for CEB to be built over 1 story either.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1314
Location: Chihuahua Desert
    
    6
I still think rammed earth is way more cost effective & stronger than CEB. I think building codes don't allow for CEB to be built over 1 story either.

I doubt the more cost effective claim.  Even if you buy a hand made CEB machine, rammed earth forms are going to be more expensive and labor intensive.

Stronger - It depends.  Most CEBs I've seen are 6" wide.  Is a 6" wide rammed earth wall as strong?  I doubt it. Rammed earth does not have the compaction levels you can get even with a hand-powered CEB press.

I don't know about the building codes, but I've seen CEB buildings 2 and 3 stories high.  I wouldn't want to to a rammed earth building over 1 story, either.

Do you have any studies or evidence that would support your claims?
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1311
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
I like the idea of CEB construction but do have concerns about structures over 2 stories.

Here is how New Mexico addresses structure heighth:
http://midwestearthbuilders.com/code.html

Even using post and beam and infill I'd have concerns wirh CEB that I wouldn't have with straw bale. Maybe a first story of CEB and the second story of straw bales would be a solution for a two storied structure.


"There is enough in the world for everyones needs, but not enough for everyones greed"
(Buckman)
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1314
Location: Chihuahua Desert
    
    6
Staw baled doesn't have the compressive strength of CEB, not even close.  I would not do a 2 story straw bale building, and would never hesitate at a 2 story CEB.

Why do you think straw bale would be better?
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1311
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
A timber frame infill strawbale structure doesn't rely on the compressive strength of the straw, nor would a CEB block infill structure.
Relying on the stability of CEB's alone  in a structure over two stories just gives me pause for concern personaly.
CEB's in conjunction with pillars columns or timber might put me a bit more at ease.            Evidently New Mexico Code has some reservations on structures over 144 inches tall made of CEB's. Design is everything of course.
Are the 2-3 story structure you mention in the US?
 
inlikeflint Hatfield


Joined: Dec 30, 2010
Posts: 12
velacreations wrote:


I don't know about the building codes, but I've seen CEB buildings 2 and 3 stories high.  I wouldn't want to to a rammed earth building over 1 story, either.

Do you have any studies or evidence that would support your claims?


Here's a Rammed Earth building that is over seven stories tall...
http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/david-marchetti-architetto-s-rammed-earth-office-harvests-solar-energy/
This is another example of rammed earth buildings... I guess it was good enough for castles...
http://www.historicrammedearth.co.uk/sites.htm

Here's an online link to CEB Building codes...
http://www.midwestearthbuilders.com/code.html
You can't have a CEB building that are over 2 stories. (A six inch wall would be like brick veneer. Depending on your compression rate you can't build a CEB with less than a 10 inch wall to achieve a 10 foot height... You can get one story out of this, otherwise you need to have 24" wall with bond beam to support the weight of your second story.)

Rammed Earth is much stronger than CEB because it is a solid wall and not a grout/mud slip (Uncomplicated soil) brick.

Rammed earth is probably more cost effective because it is less labor intensive to pour dirt into forms and tamp than to make a brick, wait for it to dry, and then lay the brick. The forms are wood/masonite and the tampers can be sticks or air powered tampers... You can even use vibrators that are used in concrete wall/foundation construction to settle the dirt into the forms to make a rammed earth wall compaction that is hard like granite.

CEB is better suited for detail work like making unsupported arches, vaults, barrel vaults, buttresses,  and domes.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1314
Location: Chihuahua Desert
    
    6
How wide are the walls of the rammed earth buildings that are beyond 10 feet tall?

Rammed Earth is much stronger than CEB because it is a solid wall and not a grout/mud slip (Uncomplicated soil) brick.

Using cement based grouts would make the compression strength of the mortar more than rammed earth or CEBs. 

Rammed earth is definitely NOT more cost effective.  The cost of the forms alone are more than the infrastructure needed for CEB.  As for labor, how is tamping by hand less labor than operating a lever?

For rammed earth, you have to set ups the forms, prepare your material, lift it into the forms, wet, tamp, then move forms and repeat. It is arduous and very time consuming compared to CEB production.

Granted, you could use machines to tamp and lift the dirt, but you can have that with CEBs as well.
Ipafes Hatfield


Joined: Jan 01, 2011
Posts: 2
We are doing a lot of work with gabion baskets all around the world for some really unique applications!  From earth retention for erosion control to interior design, I think gabions are finally making their spot in alternative sustainable building.  There are two main types of gabions, Welded wire and twisted wire.  The welded wire type is more adaptable to many applications, looks cleaner, and has several subcategories of color, material type, size mesh, size wire.  The twisted wire gabions work well for simple applications and can be found pretty cheap.  Another issue with both types is the redundant panels.  We are all supposed to be trying to save the planet, save money, have a smaller footprint.  Why design a gabion wall using any type of basket what so ever?  You can save a lot of time, effort, and money by using roll mesh and panels.  You can even mix and match materials to save even more.  Imagine fixing an eroding hill by building a green wall.  Using green PVC coated front face mesh and less expensive galvanized mesh for the rest of the wall, you can create a cost effective retaining wall.  Make it out of rocks, bricks, or broken concrete.  Many of these items can be found at your local township field office or even at landfills.  Another option that we are working with several major cities is making hanging green walls when green roofs are not practical or possible.  You can find out much more from any of these three websites.  www.gabionbaskets.net www.ipafes.com www.midwestconstruct.com

This picture is from outside Nashville, TN.  A whole community built in and around sustainable green engineered design!


[Thumbnail for Nashville projects 005.jpg]

FAbdolian McCoy


Joined: Jun 16, 2011
Posts: 2
HI Folks,
I am so happy to find this site. We are a group of volunteers who are working on creating an open source CEB press machine. The goal is to release it to general public after we have made the prototypes and fixed all the minor problems with it.

We have made 2 alternative designs that we will use to make the prototypes:

http://bit.ly/mOUTKV
http://bit.ly/kSsRV3

All the documents needed for production will be available in PDF or with special request in AutoCAD or SolidWorks.

This project is part of an Engineer for Change challenge that we started some time ago:

http://bit.ly/mox9Ah

We would love to hear about your comments and see what you think.

Best regards,
Farhad Abdolian
Antibes, France
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1314
Location: Chihuahua Desert
    
    6
Farhad,

Great work!  This is exactly what is needed!

Check out this work as well:
http://www.cohabitat.net
http://vimeo.com/7489169

they are developing an open source press, too.

As you making your bricks interlocking:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/24077880/Interlocking-Stabilised-Soil-Blocks-Appropriate-earth-technologies-in-Uganda
http://www.ibrick.co.za/
http://www.kthaicon.com/eblock.html
FAbdolian McCoy


Joined: Jun 16, 2011
Posts: 2
Hi,
Thanks for the links, they were great. I am aware of the other open source design, but I am afraid it is very complicated design, our goal is to make it as simple and as easy to duplicate as possible, so we are open to suggestions and critics.

The idea is to make this a universal device, it creates simple bricks, but with add-ons, it can create intelockable ones as well. It can also create half-size units as well, but that will be after we made it and got it to work.

We want to make this as simple as possible, the best way is to avoid welding all together if possible, but I am not sure if we can do it.

Best regards,
Farhad
B. G. Hirt


Joined: Feb 24, 2014
Posts: 2
I've recently did a butt load of reading on this CEB/Mud Brick/Adobe block building method. The most inexpensive method of doing this type of building would be to make your own block mold. A mold that would allow you to make numerous blocks at one time. I located a website from Australia that shows many people using different methods of making the blocks. One woman made her one mold to make one block at a time and she makes 35 blocks per day by herself! Another man took 2 - 2x4's about 10 feet in length, placed them side by side and cut 14 inch 2x4's and spaced them inside the 2 - 2x4's, shoveled the sections full of his CEB block mixture, and used a board as a trowel to level them off and picked up one end of the 2 - 2x4' and lifted them off the pressed blocks and poof he had 8 to 10 blocks made. I pesonally will attempt this method myself! This method would allow about 15 blocks at a time to be made.

Many people feel that these CEB homes are unconventional and uninsurable. I don't know and I would appreciate any and all information anyone out there has on this aspect of CEB Block homes. Many times homes that are labeled as 'unconventional homes' do not have a good investment value. I'd like some information on that aspect as well if anyone out there in Permies Land has any knowledge please share!

I'd don't want to invest my time and energy and money into something that will have no value should the need arrise for me to need a loan on it.
Insurance is also hard to obtain on a dwelling that is not considered 'conventional housing'. Again, I don't want to invest my hard earned money, time and energy into something I can't insure.
I do live in an area where we do have tornado weather. In tha last 22 years I've seen many neighbors lose everything, fortunately for us we have not lost but a few roofing shingles and one tree.

I located a website that tells of many adobe buildings built in the 1760's in Mexico that are still in use today! THAT FACT is enough to make anyone want to build their own exterior walls at the very least using this method.

I'd love to leave a lagacy behind when I'm gone. A legacy that says; "You CAN and you should build your own beautiful home with as many natural materials as possible. Build it to last for many genorations to share the beauty and freedom of being debt free and still have a safe and beautiful place to live and raise your families.

Any and all input will be greatly appreciated!

 
 
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