Experimental-numerical material characterization of adobe masonry: Tests and simulations on various types of earthen bricks and mortar in statics and dynamics

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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Research in this thesis is aimed at comprehensively characterizing the mechanical performance of adobe components. Adobe is a traditional masonry made of sundried bricks and mortar. Bricks are made of soil mixed with fibres and joined together by mud mortar. Adobe is largely spread in areas of the world prone to seismic risk or involved in military conflicts. Its low environmental impact attracts scientific attention also for sustainable applications in current building industry. Unfortunately, the material and structural properties of adobe are still hardly assessed, as a result of centuries of progressive abandonment of this building technology in western countries after introduction of modern building materials in the market. In this doctoral research, a combined experimental and numerical approach was followed. It has been aimed at fulfilling experimental data and knowledge gaps in the study of the main properties of this material. Experimental tests have been performed on bricks and mortar characterized by different mineralogical compositions, fibre percentages and moisture content. Mechanical tests consisted of bending and compression tests. Tests in compression have been performed at different rates of deformation from statics to high velocity impact. Data derived from tests have constituted a solid dataset aimed at interpreting and modelling the mechanical performance of adobe. Experimental trends resulted in physical theories concerning the main features of the quasi brittle response of adobe. In particular, the role of fibres and water content in the mixture on the mechanical response of adobe bricks and mortar has been addressed in this study in the static and dynamic regimes of the spectrum of strain rate induced loadings. The main mechanical parameters in compression and tension for adobe have been statistically determined from the static and dynamic tests. Mechanical properties and physical theories have been framed in several models that interpret the response of adobe for different applications. Constitutive models have been derived to address the uniaxial response in compression at different strain rates of adobes of different mineralogical composition and water contents. A finite element damage model has been developed to simulate the main failure modes specifically observed in earthen bricks at different loading conditions and rates, including high velocity impacts. The numerical study has been devoted at ensuring objectivity of analysis to the results of simulations performed using different mesh refinements of the geometrical model of the tested brick. Furthermore, engineering ballistic models that address the response of adobe walls to small caliber penetrations have been developed in this doctoral research. This thesis contains the description of the performed experiments, the analysis of data, the theoretical interpretations and the models developed for the material characterization of adobe masonry.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Sluijs, L.J., Supervisor
  • Weerheijm, J., Advisor
Award date4 Sep 2019
Print ISBNs978-94-6323-789-5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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