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University of Florence (2022)

Mechanical, structural and seismic behavior of rammed Earth constructions

Ávila Cruces, Fernando José

Titre : Mechanical, structural and seismic behavior of rammed Earth constructions

Auteur : Ávila Cruces, Fernando José

Université de soutenance : University of Florence

Grade : Doctoral in Civil and Environmental Engineering 2022

This doctoral thesis presents a thorough analysis of the mechanical, structural and seismic behavior of rammed earth structures, aimed at encouraging the use of this technique in modern construction. Rammed earth is a traditional construction technique that has been used all over the world since antiquity, but today it is attracting renewed interest as an environmentally sustainable building solution. However, the lack of national and international standards based on the structural knowledge of this kind of constructions, makes it difficult for designers and builders to adopt this technique in new constructions. In this regard, as a first step, this thesis presents a detailed compilation of the most relevant results obtained by several researchers about the mechanical and physical properties of rammed earth, including the laboratory tests used to measure these properties and the additives and reinforcements that can be used to improve the material behavior. An experimental testing campaign is carried out to evaluate the mechanical properties of rammed earth stabilized with one of the most relevant additives, lime, focusing on the effect of increasing lime contents and the strength development process, two factors that are essential to build constructions with this technique and that have not been thoroughly studied yet. Compression tests and nondestructive ultrasonic pulse velocity tests are performed. For unstabilized rammed earth, the uniaxial compression tests are combined with diagonal compression test in order to assess also the shear behavior of the material, essential to understand its failure mechanisms (particularly under extreme loads such as a seism). This data is used to develop a numerical model of the material based on the concrete damage plasticity model in the FEM software Abaqus. The proposed behavioral model is evaluated by replicating with finite elements the diagonal tests carried out in laboratory. Considering the vulnerability of rammed earth structures under the action of an earthquake and the numerous areas of earth construction with a significant seismic hazard, in the last part of this study the seismic behavior of this kind of structures is evaluated. The state of the art about this topic is presented and analyzed, including the scientific research about the structural behavior of rammed earth walls subjected to horizontal loads, potential seismic reinforcements, and requirements and recommendations indicated in the existing standards and guidelines about earth construction in seismic area


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