Computer Modeling to Build Better Mud Bricks

Rammed earth and stabilized mud block or brick are cheap, easy to make, usually durable materials widely used for building homes and low-level structures, especially in developing countries. Despite their widespread use and long history, the structural properties of these materials are not well understood, so how they could be manufactured to better withstand destructive natural forces, such as earthquakes and weathering, remains a goal. Craig Foster, assistant professor of civil and materials engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, hopes a specially tailored set of computer models he is developing may provide the necessary answers. He has just won a three-year, $243,000 National Science Foundation grant to conduct the work.

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