One of the many and varied programmes that the God’s Way Ltd Construction Branch is setting out to achieve is the discovery and use of alternative and new building materials. The programme, directed by Jesus (AJ Miller) and managed by David Walsh (Cornelius), involves experimenting to create new building materials that can be used in building and construction. God’s Way Ltd is looking for new materials to build volunteer accommodation, a function centre, and to create materials that will benefit the world.
Experimentation will be required to develop alternatives to existing building materials, which may be completely new to construction and until now untested.
This post outlines the goals of the Building Materials Experiments Programme, and introduces the first experiment that God’s Way Ltd is conducting using industry byproducts/waste products to make a new building material. This specific set of experiments will involve mixing a variety of composite products together by hand and is thus called the Composite Mixes Project.
Why would someone want to make alternatives to current building materials?
The way God creates is that when things He created come to the end of their use, they are able to be broken down and become food for other living things. This ensures a continuous life cycle. For example, a tree grows, provides shade and shelter for many creatures including humans, cleans the air, dies, decays on the ground and breaks down into new soil for the next generations of trees to benefit from in their growth cycle.
God’s Way Ltd Construction Branch aspires to create building materials that are in harmony with the way God creates.
Many of the current products used in building and construction do not benefit the environment at the end of their life cycle and in fact become a burden upon living systems in the form of chemicals, poisons, plastics, landfill waste and increased demands on the earth’s resources to supply, without supporting that cycle of supply.
Goals of the Building Materials Experiments Programme
Some of the long-term goals of the programme are:
- To develop building materials and products that are durable, strong and functional while having as little impact on the natural environment as possible during their manufacture.
- To develop alternative building materials and products that can be used in innovative and functional constructions that harness natural properties such as thermal transfer, light, etc. in order to reduce the need for additional resources to cool, heat or power the construction.
- To develop alternative building materials and products that will benefit rather than burden living things in future, when the construction comes to the end of its use.
- To test the products in God’s Way Ltd Construction Branch Projects, and see how they perform in real life situations, as opposed to solely clinical lab testing.
- To collect information during projects, and eventually share how to replicate all of the successful new building materials and provide this information to the world for free.
Some of the initial goals of the programme are:
- To discover the intelligence that God has embedded in all of the creations that have been running perfectly for millions of years. To come to an understanding of the principals behind the particular creation, then replicate it. For example, to investigate the chemical component termites create that sticks soil together and makes their nests strong and rock-like.
- To identify waste products that can be used or repurposed into new products instead of them becoming pollutants. For example, using sawdust from timber mill manufacturing, rather than it being burned.
- To repurpose existing materials after their intended use has finished. For example, utilising shipping containers as building structures.
- To find products with greater benefits environmentally and with enhanced properties that can replace current products. For example, replacing steel reinforcing bar in concrete products with basalt (volcanic rock based) reinforcement products.
- To discover new products through experimentation. For example, by trying different things outside of the ‘normal’ way of doing things, new discoveries can be made or new Universal Laws discovered, often by mistake, but to the benefit of mankind.
When looking into repurposing waste materials to use as alternative building materials, consideration needs to be given to not support an identified waste product that already has a negative impact on the environment. For example, a great product could be produced from plastic waste and given to the world. The trouble is that this would encourage the continual demand for plastic, and may even cause people to emotionally minimize the problem of plastic manufacture and usage, which does not address the major environmental impact that plastics have upon the environment. So selection of waste material needs to be considered carefully, as well as how the products that the project endeavours to create can be broken down.
If the building material experiments work and do provide a benefit to humankind and the environment, then as per the God’s Way Ltd Constitution, information about how to produce the same results discovered by the God’s Way Construction Branch will be freely shared. The aim is that if something discovered can be of benefit to mankind or the environment, then God’s Way Ltd wants it to be available to the world for free, so that every person and living creation in the world is a beneficiary.
Experiment #1: Sawdust Composites
The first experiment of the Composite Mixes project will involve utilising the overburden of waste from timber milling activities – sawdust. According to the a representative at a local mill, the sawdust is generally burned by the mills to get rid of it, or it is transported to industries that use it in their furnaces.
The sawdust will be used in concrete-like products. It is envisaged that the sawdust may be able to replace part of the sand content used to make standard concrete. The sawdust may offer improved thermal qualities, be lighter and perhaps easier to work with and can be broken down so will not become a pollutant at the end of its life. Currently, the supply of sawdust comes from a local hardwood timber mill.
The project will require trials to discover how the sawdust performs in mixes of various products. Observations will be made from the tests to discover what is the best method of binding the sawdust together effectively, and to see if it will work or not.
The long-term aim of the project is to test if composite mixes can be shaped into columns, beams, arches, domes and panels of a variety of thicknesses. To start with, test samples will be made in the size of common house bricks: 230mm length x 110mm width x 86mm height. These house brick sized test samples will be small enough to be easily handled and stored, but large enough to give an easy comparison against other known products. However it is not the aim of the project to make bricks as a product.
Successful trials of the brick samples will determine the optimum mix of sawdust, cement and other materials for making further composite products. Successful products will be tested on God’s Way Ltd projects and if they perform well, sample products will be taken to an accredited testing facility (University of South Queensland Engineering Department) to get verifiable data on the performance of the product.
Principles for Mixing Concrete
Concrete is the combination of various sizes of stone, sand, water and cement.
Making concrete or brick products is kind of like making a cake. Both have a bunch of dry ingredients that make up the bulk, and both have some liquid and binders to help stick the bulk ingredients together.
In the example of a cake, the dry ingredients that make up the bulk could be flour, sugar, nuts, dried fruit, cocoa and bicarb soda. With concrete, the dry ingredients that make up the bulk might be: different sized stones, sand and sawdust (in this project’s experiments). In concreting terms, the dry ingredients are called aggregates, which is simply a collection of the various size and types of stone and sand. The term ‘aggregates’ will be used a lot in this project.
Using the example of the cake, to make the bulk (dry ingredients) in the cake stick together you use binders like eggs, oils, butter and aquafaba (a thick liquid resulting from cooking legumes in water, that is used as an egg alternative in vegan cooking). With concrete, to make the bulk (aggregates) stick together, the most common binder is cement. Others binders can be things like lime and fly ash (dust produced by coal burning power stations). The term ‘binders’ will be used a lot in this project.
In the cake mix there are liquids like water or milk to make the aggregates and binders become more liquid-like and help all parts of the mix easily combine together. Being liquid makes a mix easy to pour into a cake tin that will hold its shape until cooked. This is similar with concreting. The liquid used is clean water to help make a liquid paste that flows through all the aggregates and makes the mix easy to pour into formwork or moulds (much like a cake tin), to hold the shape required until the concrete has hardened.
The cake and the concrete have both a chemical and hydration reaction process occurring to cause the wet product to stiffen and become a combined solid form.
The benefit of doing research before experimental trials begin is to save the resource of time. Research will be used to see if anyone has done similar experiments before, what results were found, what methods were used, what observations were made etc. Research findings may serve as loose guidelines for the experimental trials that follow, loose, because all experiments are different and different approaches are likely to give different results.
Some of the questions to research are:
- Has something similar using sawdust as a composite been made before?
- If yes, what were the results?
- Is there already data that might guide what sort of sawdust would be best to use (hardwood, softwood, small particles, large particles)?
- What are the properties of sawdust in relation to cement based products and can sawdust bind to cement?
- To ensure the project results can be consistently measured and shared, what are the construction industry methods of weighing and measuring this type of product?
- Are there any alternative materials with similar properties to cement that could be used in place of cement in this project?
- Can the strength of mixes be determined from the quantities and ratios of different products in the mixture?
- What is the chemistry behind the cement hardening reaction?
- What is the chemistry behind the binding of earth bricks and how does this compare to cement?
- What construction products and methods did the Romans use? Because they did a really good job of it and many of their structures are still standing today. What raw materials were available to them in that region of the world?
- Will the bricks be waterproof?
- How will the bricks be made unattractive to termites?
- What equipment and materials are going to be needed to conduct the experiments?
- What safety gear will be required?
- Who does accredited testing and what are the maximum and minimum sample size that they will test?
- What type of data needs to be collected and how to record and store the collected the data?
While some of the answers to these questions can be discovered in advance, most of the learning and questions will come up as observations when sample tests are conducted. This will then prompt further research to gain additional understanding.
Materials Used in Experiments
The materials listed below are simply the initial materials that will be used to begin experimental testing on the Composite Mixes Project. Other materials are likely to be introduced along the way as ideas sprout and changes occur based on the results observed. The approach will be to play with the aggregates and binders to find a good combination of materials to create potential products.
The AGGREGATES to be used will be sand and sawdust.
Sand: white block sand usually used for concrete block brick making
Sawdust: hardwood sawdust and additional softwood sawdust from Cypress Pine, which has a natural termite resistance
Once again, the ‘aggregates’ are the bulk of the mix
In our initial experiments we are trialing a mix using sawdust as part of the aggregate.
The BINDERS to be used are cement, lime and fly ash
Cement: made up of limestone, chalk, clay, shale, silica sand, gypsum and some other additions
Lime: made from limestone
Fly Ash: a by-product of coal burning in power stations. The project aims not to be using fly ash in the future due to the source being polluting, however it will be interesting to see its performance, and if it does perform well to find an alternative with similar properties.
Once again, the ‘binders’ stick the aggregates together.
Relationship Between Materials
The aggregates, binders and water all have a relationship to each other that affects the outcome of a finished product, much the same as ingredients and quantities in a cake.
Strength is one of the main outcomes required for a concrete product to be durable and effective, and the relationship between the aggregates, binders and water and their respective quantities all have an effect on the outcome. Sawdust in particular will likely affect the properties of the end product as compared to a standard concrete using sand and other standard aggregates.
An explanation here may help to read and understand future test results. In the concreting industry, aggregates and the cement are both measured by volume. This is also how the tests will be conducted during this project, with the volume in this case being measured in Litres (L). The relationship between aggregates exists and is expressed as a ratio.
A commonly known concrete mix of 4:2:1 expresses the ratio of the mix of stone, sand and cement. This means 4 parts of stone, 2 parts of sand and 1 part of cement are required. This mix has a known strength of 15 Megapascals (MPa), which is a low to medium strength.
Depending on the quantity required this could look like, 4L of stone mixed with 2L of sand and 1L of cement, or it could be, 12L of stone, 6L of sand and 3L of cement. The ratio stays the same, which ensures that the strength does too, however the quantity has increased.
In an experiment, there may be no ratio used to start with, however one is created as the experiment evolves. Because God’s Way Ltd operates in the ‘Experimentation Industry’ (trying and testing) rather than the ‘Concreting Industry’ (tried and tested), the ratios used will change and vary as the project evolves.
A relationship also exists between the aggregates and the binders. In the example of the original ratio above, the 4 and 2 are the aggregates and the 1 is the binder. So an aggregates to binders ratio of 6:1 exists. Too much aggregates and not enough binder will cause the mix to not stay together, much like a crumbly cake. The ratio will need to be altered to increase the strength of the binder (‘glue’) by adding more cement or reducing the aggregates.
In the concreting industry, while the binders are measured by volume as mentioned above, they are also measured by weight. A weight is taken of that volume for consistency, because depending on the source and materials used to make the cement powder it may vary in weight. The measure of weight in these experiments will be in Kilograms (kg).
The cement (binder) has a direct relationship with the water to do with strength. In general, the more water added, the weaker the mix. It could be said that as you add more water you are diluting the glue. The relationship with water and cement is often expressed as a ratio to give an indication of perceived strength.
A water to cement ratio of 0.5:1 means 5kg of water required for every 10kg of cement.
Enough water needs to be added to be able to work the mix and shape it and get a nice finished surface to the end product. Often a fine line exists between strength and workability of the mix to make a good end product.
Tests in this project will be playing with all of these ratios and materials to see what the limits are, especially when adding sawdust to the mix.
The first phase of the experiment is to make samples using standard mixes that are currently used to make a cement brick, for example, using sand and cement. Because the project aims to try other binders as a partial or perhaps full cement substitute, the initial samples will be made with combinations of cement, lime and fly ash. Future tests which include sawdust and other additives will be able to be measured and tested against these initial standard bricks.
A Standard Materials Test Document was created to collect all of the data for individual test batches during the experiments. This records all data and observations, creates consistency between tests, is able to be shared easily and allows those involved to compare and evaluate what was produced, understand anomalies and determine the direction of further testing.
The initial research is done. The materials and equipment are ready. The testing parameters are sorted. The data collection method is in place. It’s time to get experimenting!
It’s pretty interesting doing something that I’ve never done before, and stepping onto ground that no one may have ever done before. I felt a lot of personal judgement, like “I have no idea if this will work”, “people will think it’s stupid, I’m stupid”, “I’m not the right person to do it”, ” I have no idea what I’m doing”, “I should know stuff, but I don’t”, just to mention a few. I was also very focussed on playing by the rules of the industry and using them as my benchmark to aim for (because rules are safe), until Tristan, who is working on this project with me, reminded me that I’ve come back to Earth to change the rules! And to make new ones (we’ll see how that goes). This made me see the project from a more open perspective and work has become more intuitive, feeling what to do rather than focusing intellectually what to do. More ideas seem to come with this attitude. Some of the ideas seem a bit crazy, but it’s fun to give them a shot.
In my previous work as a builder, I didn’t learn much about concrete except how to order it for specific jobs, lay it and finish it. I’ve done that plenty of times. But I’ve discovered that there is so much science behind it that I still don’t fully understand, however I’m finding it fun learning about it! It makes me kind of wish I had done chemistry at school, but I think I’m enjoying learning about it now more than I would have back then.
I put out a big thank you to others who have put research documents on the internet that I’ve had the opportunity to benefit from, and for the dude that created the internet. I can see the benefit of sharing knowledge more now. But in the back of my mind, I sense that it is the slow way and that the quickest way will be for me to let God teach me about the queries that I have. Hmmmm…
God’s Way Visionary & Founding Member
Construction Branch Manager
Information Sharing Auditor & Editor