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The potential role of cattail-reinforced clay plaster in sustainable building

: Georgiev, Georgi; Theuerkorn, Werner; Krus, Martin; Kilian, Ralf; Großkinsky, Theo

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Mires and peat 13 (2014), Art. 09, 13 pp.
ISSN: 1819-754X
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IBP ()

Sustainable development is a key goal in town and country planning, as well as in the building industry. The main aims are to avoid inefficient land use, to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and, thus, to move towards meeting the challenges of climate change. In this article we consider how the use of a traditional low-energy building material, namely clay, might contribute. Recent research has identified a promising connection between the reinforcement of clay for internal wall plastering with fibres from the wetland plant Typha latifolia (cattail) and the positive environmental effects of cultivating this species. If large quantities of Typha fibres were to be used in building, the need for cultivation of the plant would increase and create new possibilities for the renaturalisation of polluted or/and degraded peatlands. We explore the topic first on the basis of literature, considering the suitability of Typha for this application and possibilities for its sustainable cultivation, as well as implications for the life cycle analyses of buildings in which it is used. We then report (qualitatively) the results of testing different combinations of clay with natural plant (straw and cattail) fibres for their suitability as a universal plaster, which demonstrate clearly the superior properties of Typha fibres as a reinforcement material for clay plaster mortars.