Wood-cement composites particleboards are made of wood chips combined with a cementitious material. Usually, they are manufactured into panels for use by the construction industry in applications such as walls, roof sheathing and tiles, floor, and sound barriers. They have been around for a very long time. However, it is only in recent years that there is a renewed interest in their use. Indeed, because of their excellent thermos-physical properties these panels are ideal candidates for use in green buildings. They are environmentally friendly because they can sequester carbon within. They are highly porous with a low apparent density and a complex architecture marked by a multi-scale porosity. These geometrical characteristics result in a high capacity to absorb sound and a high hygro-thermal transfer ability, which enables temperature regulation. Their thermal conductivity is close to that of expanded polystyrene and glass wool. They lend themselves to modular construction, and are well suited in warm and humid environments where termites and decay pose a serious problem. These composites also display energy-dissipating properties, which are sought after in seismic design. All of these attributes make them ideal materials for use by the building industry. Indeed, buildings and construction account for 36% of global energy use and 39% of energy related CO2 emissions. Since 2010, the emissions continue to rise by around 1% per year, and more than four million deaths each year are attributable to illness from household air pollution .
Wood cement composite panels offer an excellent opportunity to deploy energy-efficient and low-carbon solutions for buildings and construction. However, they suffer from lack of mechanical strength, which prohibits their use as load bearing structural elements. The aim of this project therefore is to develop wood-cement composite panel strengthened with FRP for use as load-bearing slabs or walls in buildings.
Dr Amar Khennane