Project Everest

Work Update

[Work Update]: Using bottles as a housing alternative

Kathy Li
Kathy Li | Jul 9, 2018 | in Knowledge Base

Crowdicity Report of Week 1 Prototype

As a team the first prototype we chose to complete was the plastic bottle wall. The basic idea behind this prototype is 1.5L bottles are filled with sand that is then compacted, sealed and then they are essentially used as bricks.

For the purpose of our prototype we used what was available, which was beach sand that contained a lot of organic material. Concrete was then mixed on site also using what was available in doing so our ratio of sand, cement and gravel was very approximate.

Overall we achieved our goal, which was to prove we could do it with what we had.

This idea has been implemented in Nigeria and Algeria constructing entire homes using the same methodologies. The Asian Research Publishing Network (ARPN) Journal of Engineering and Applied Science also wrote an article in 2016, which includes relative compression tests for a home built in Malaysia. The results showed that the strength of 1.5L and 250ml bottle bricks is 3 and 4 times respectively stronger then common clay bricks.

Reading about the successes of the bricks across the world we thought we’d give it a crack. Although here in Timor whole houses may not be viable, we think other structures such as retaining walls, garden beds or small-scale construction are a definite possibility. One example of this is our recent interaction with UNDP. They informed us that Engineers Without Boarders (EWB) had recently held a design competition where the plastic bottle bricks idea came in 4th, which is promising. After meeting with UNDP they mentioned a recycling initiative they are hoping to implement would require on street receptacles for the ease of collection, knowing our interest in plastic bottles bricks they inquired if we would build these structures for them, which indicates a market for this prototype.

Knowing that there is some interest for the prototype is great news for the ERS team but the search for a market definitely does not stop here.

Timor-Leste ERS July team.

edited on 14th August 2018, 04:08 by Andrew Vild

Cris Birzer Jul 9, 2018

I think there is an example of someone in Gaza doing this. I suspect the slowest process is getting the sand/dirt into the bottles, and then ensuring they compact sufficiently. Information about that might be available from the guy doing it in Gaza. (I suspect you have already seen this).

A big issue for me is that this will make a thermally insulated wall, which isn't necessarily a good thing in the tropics (it will retain heat for a long time and take a long time to cool down). You also have to consider how/if you dry the sand/dirt that is in the bottles. Will there be a problem if there is moisture in the sealed bottles?

Good luck!

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Scott Jucius Jul 10, 2018

If looking to improve the strength of your prototype, there are two suggestions I can think of.

1. Reduce size of bottles.
Since the compressive strength = load/area, reducing the size of the bottle should improve the overall strength of the prototype. From the photo above, it looks as if you are using 1L bottles, perhaps 600mL bottles will be better.

2. Don't use beach sand.
Typically in construction beach sand is not used, as the particles are very fine and have a rounded shape which offer less resistant to rearrangement. Other sand types may provide a stronger cement.

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Andrew Vild Aug 14, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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asmakhannnas 5 months ago

For the purposes of our prototype, we used what was available, that is, sand on the beach that contained a lot of organic material. Indeed was a helping source. Then the concrete was mixed on site, using what was available, so our sand, cement and gravel ratio was very close.

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