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A Conservative Approach to Low-cost Housing Through the Use of Expanded Polystyrene

Bonke Mncwango and Dhiren Allopi
Dept. of Civil Engineering and Geomatics, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa

Abstract—This publication analyses how an EPS dome house constructed using unmodified EPS can be re-engineered in order to ensure that the costs of construction are kept low. In the absence of intricate moulding equipment; the purpose of this research is to investigate how unmodified EPS can be moulded into a dome-shape that will conform in magnitude to the minimum values of inhabitancy as specified by various legislative bodies. A hot-wire tool was used to carve multiple sets of dome pieces. In order to appraise the viability of such a model, the EPS pieces were assembled and left exposed to the elements since the main method of analysis was through exposure. Analysis of the stability of the live model was studied in conjunction with the compression, flexural and thermal qualities of EPS under laboratory conditions. Wind speeds of thirty-nine km/hr and rainfall of twenty-eight mm did not alter the state of composure of the model even after three months of placement. Observation of the model revealed that it is possible to successfully re-create an EPS dome house without complex moulding equipment. However, a compressive strength test on EPS revealed that the compressive qualities of EPS are significantly lower than that of conventional materials such as clay bricks. This can also be attributed to the void structure of EPS, since EPS is a polymer. A thermo-gravimetric analyses of three different densities (fifteen kg/m3, twenty kg/m3 and thirty kg/m3) of EPS revealed that contrary to what may be expected, the maximum degradation value decreases as the density of EPS increases. 

Index Terms—expanded polystyrene, compression, dome-house, polymers, TGA, flexural tests

Cite: Bonke Mncwango and Dhiren Allopi, "A Conservative Approach to Low-cost Housing Through the Use of Expanded Polystyrene," International Journal of Structural and Civil Engineering Research, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 121-126, May 2020. doi: 10.18178/ijscer.9.2.121-126