Saul Namango, Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg

Recreating Clay for Climate Change Mitigation: Development of Clay-Polymer

Composites Reinforced with Bamboo and Sisal Natural Fibres and Investigation of their

Suitability for Application in Construction

The aim of this research project is to synthesize a composite of clay-polymer mixture reinforced with bamboo and sisal natural fibres for possible application in construction and automobile industries, among others. The investigations require to determine the appropriate amounts of each individual component needed in order to make an ideal hybrid composite, i.e. the composite-mix with the most favourable physical, mechanical and thermal properties. Other than the food shortage, housing inadequacy is one of the most crucial problems on earth; and this is especially in the developing countries. The urgent need to develop suitable and affordable housing is a consequence of the fact that about 1.6 billion people, most of who live in the developing nations, are either homeless or lack adequate housing (Habitat, 2015).

There is therefore great need to create affordable housing options. To improve this situation and make it possible to build more houses, particularly for low-income families, it is necessary to examine all locally available materials which can be used for construction. Building houses using clay (also called loam or earth) is the most common method of making cheap accommodation since soil is readily available almost anywhere on the planet. But clay bricks or building elements require to be stabilised in order to effectively be used for construction. Natural fibres can be used to reinforce clay for purpose of constructing houses (Namango, 2006; Wu, Y. et al, 2014; Ouakarrouch, m. et al 2020).

There is on the other hand, great urgency to eradicate pollution caused by plastic wastes (polymer). Kenya has massive amounts of plastic bottles. Plastic bottles are a nuisance in Kenya in that they pollute the environment due to ineffective laws. Plastics represent the most widespread environmental pollutant; their production exceeds 350 million tons per year (Galgani et al., 2015). There is, therefore, growing interest to reduce the impact of these petroleum-based products on the environment. Because of their constructive properties, reinforced polymer composite materials are increasing at a faster rate in the field of engineering and commercial application (Mohammed, L. et al 2015; Chethan, G. et al, 2022; Bhat, A.R. et al, 2023). In recent times, numerous studies have focused on usage of natural fibres as a reinforcing material in polymer composites, with some of the studies noting thatnatural fibers have advantages over synthetic reinforcement of composite. It is possible to postulate, from the aforesaid, that use of plastic wastes together with clay, reinforced by natural fibres to produce novel composite materials can be a reality. And, it would be a further innovative method of reducing the plastic menace. In keeping with recent developments in this area of study, the current research work moves a step forward. It, thus, seeks to synthesize a bamboo and sisal natural fibre-reinforced composite by embedding the fibres into a clay-polymer matrix.Among others, tensile strength, compressive strength, and flexural strength of the fabricated composite specimens will be assessed.

The study of crystalline structure of the reinforcementswill be carried out through X-ray diffraction (XRD) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopic (EDX) analysis. The failure surface morphology of the composite samples is to be examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). While the melting point and decomposition of the specimens will be examined using thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). It is expected that a composite material with physical, mechanical and thermal properties favourable for use as a building material will be synthesized. This will reduce over reliance on materials that have high carbon footprint in their production. Low-cost building material will go a long way supporting the homeless attain a home, especially in developing countries.