This collaborative research aims at experimentally and theoretically quantifying the structural resilience of a new fiber reinforced earthen masonry system for dwellings in high wind regions. This goal will be achieved by engineering and prototyping stabilized earth blocks and mortar, both enhanced with addition of natural fibers, and verifying the structural response of full-scale walls through physical testing. Engineering of the mortar and blocks will be based on two criteria: optimization of the amount of stabilizer and fibers, and compatibility of block and mortar where the target strengths are defined to force failure in the mortar joints. Engineering of the wall system will be based on the formulation and verification of interaction laws between applicable in-plane and out-of-plane forces. The interaction laws will be based on constitutive models obtained from the characterization of materials and scaled subassemblies. The collaboration involves faculty at the University of South Carolina, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Florida, with one PhD student at each institution. The engineering and characterization of the blocks and mortar will be lead by the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, respectively. The engineering of the walls, including analysis and experimental verification, will be lead by the University of South Carolina, Columbia. The outcome will be a prototype block and mortar combination. The verification of the selected system will be based on proof-tests of full-scale wall specimens under in-plane, out-of-plane, and pendulum impact load simulating the impact energy of representative flying debris, which typically cause human deaths and injuries.
The proposed research will advance knowledge and technology by engineering both the mortar and blocks to enhance damage tolerance, and through the verification of structural system and predictive analytical models based on full-scale experiments. The final outcome of the project will be a novel, affordable, energy efficient and locally appropriate system for rural dwellings that is designed to withstand high wind loads, such as those experienced in the Midwestern and the Southeastern US. The outcomes of this project will be transferred to a broad audience of Indian reservations in Nebraska and to high-school students and teachers through a summer workshop program. New educational material will be incorporated in courses offered to engineering undergraduate and graduate students at the participating universities.