Sawdust, which is a waste/by-product of the wood/timber industry, can be utilised as a valuable raw material in building material production due to its abundance and low cost. However, the application of sawdust in the manufacture of unfired clay blocks has received little
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Sawdust, which is a waste/by-product of the wood/timber industry, can be utilised as a valuable raw material in building material production due to its abundance and low cost. However, the application of sawdust in the manufacture of unfired clay blocks has received little investigation. Furthermore, the impact of different sawdust particle sizes on the properties of unfired clay blocks has not been studied. Therefore, this study screened sawdust at three different particle sizes: SP-a (212 μm < x < 300 μm), SP-b (425 μm < x < 600 μm) and SP-c (1.18 mm < x < 2.00 mm), to examine their effects on the physical and mechanical properties of unfired clay blocks. The density, linear shrinkage, capillary water absorption and flexural and compressive strengths were among the tests performed. Different sawdust percentages, i.e., 2.5%, 5%, 7.5% and 10% of the total weight of the clay, were considered. The tests results show that when sawdust was added to the mixture, the density of the samples reduced for all particle sizes. However, the linear shrinkage increased in SP-a samples but decreased in the other two particle size samples as the sawdust percentage increased from 2.5% to 10%. On the other hand, the capillary water absorption coefficient increased while the strength decreased with increasing sawdust content for all three groups. The highest compressive strength (CS) and flexural strength (FS) were achieved at 2.5% of sawdust content. Furthermore, it was observed that SP-b (CS—4.74 MPa, FS—2.00 MPa) samples showed the highest strength followed by SP-a (CS—4.09 MPa, FS—1.69 MPa) and SP-c (CS—3.90 MPa, FS—1.63 MPa) samples. Consequently, good-quality unfired clay blocks can be manufactured using sawdust up to 2.5% with particle sizes ranging between 600 and 425 μm.