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Treatments of plant biomass for cementitious building
materials – A review

Thi To Loan Vo, Patrick Navard

To cite this version:
Thi To Loan Vo, Patrick Navard. Treatments of plant biomass for cementitious building ma-
terials – A review. Construction and Building Materials, Elsevier, 2016, 121, pp.161-176.
�10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2016.05.125�. �hal-01354139�

https://hal-mines-paristech.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01354139
https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr

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Treatments of plant biomass for cementitious building

materials A review

Loan T. T. Vo, Patrick Navard*

MINES ParisTech, PSL Research University, CEMEF** - Centre de mise en forme des matériaux,

CNRS UMR 7635, CS 10207 rue Claude Daunesse 06904 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France

*Corresponding author: Tel.: +33 (0)4 93 95 74 66; Fax: +33 (0)4 92 38 97 52.

Email address: [email protected] (P. Navard)

** Member of the European Polysaccharide Network of Excellence (EPNOE), www.epnoe.eu

Abstract

The use of plant biomass for developing energy efficient and low cost construction materials is an

emerging field in building construction and civil engineering. Although the biomass-based cement

and concrete composites have several advantages, such as low densities, low amount of CO2 gas

emission, good thermal and acoustic insulation, there are also disadvantages or open questions like

the durability of biomass in alkaline cement matrix, the high absorption of water and the cement-

biomass compatibility, all deteriorating concrete mechanical properties, which are already

intrinsically low due to the low mechanical properties of biomass-based fillers. This review gives the

necessary basis in plant structure and composition for understanding how and why many treatments

tested on biomass for overcoming the above-mentioned difficulties are acting. This paper reviews

research papers and patents on the treatments tested to improve the mechanical properties, durability

and compatibility of biomass for its use as concrete fillers for building materials.

Keywords: concrete, cement, biomass, treatment, durability, mechanical properties.

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Vo & Navard Review of treatments of plant biomass- revised version

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Impregnations with latex and styrene-butadiene rubber or carboxylated styrene-butadiene copolymer

emulsions were also applied on the surface of bamboo stem fragments and jute fibres [42]. These

treatments helped to disperse fillers homogenously in the cement matrix, to overcome the

degradation in alkali medium and to reduce water absorption of the resulting concrete. Khazma et. al.

coated flax shives with a poly(polyethylene glycol-co-citric acid) elastomer [66] or with

pectin/polyethylnimin [68] to decrease filler water absorption and drying shrinkage with an

improvement of mechanical properties. These treatments, however, delayed setting time of fresh

concrete due to the presence of pectin [132] and increased the thermal conductivity of hardened

concrete. The surface of kenaf bast fibres were treated with a urethane-based dilute solution to

enhance the adhesion between fibres and cement matrix [74]. Concrete with coated kenaf fibres

exhibited an improvement in cracking behaviour and hence enhanced durability. However, from a

practical point of view, coating with such chemicals is complex on large scale, expensive and not

environmentally-friendly.

Coating natural fillers by using the compounds which are already used for preparing conventional

concrete was also described. Sisal and coconut fibres were immersed in a slurry of silica fume for 10

min and then air-dried for 15 min prior to incorporation in cement matrix [133]. The method was

found to reduce embrittlement of concrete. It was reported that the addition of silica fume as an

additive accelerated the cement hydration, filled the gaps in the cement structure and thus improved

the mechanical properties of cement-bonded particleboard [33]. The suction of silica fume into pores

of oil palm shell before adding to the mix enhanced the bond strength [133,134] and decreased the

water permeability of concrete [14].

Bederina et. al. [71,73] treated wood shaves by spraying a paste of binder, including cement, lime

and cement-lime pastes, on the shaves. Among these coatings, cement was the one giving the best

results and this technique was previously claimed in two patents by Mouly [135 137]. Such coatings

significantly reduced drying shrinkage, increased wood-cement adhesion and rigidity of wood,

leading to an increase in mechanical properties of concrete and a reduction in dimensional variations.

Coating flax fibres with a cement-sucrose mix revealed unexpectedly some positive results [67]. The

presence of micro porosity in the coating layer resolved the problem of delay in setting time as well

as drying shrinkage. A reduction in water absorption and thus an increase in compressive strength

were also observed. In addition, the presence of sucrose enhanced the bond between aggregates and

matrix but increased the thermal conductivity. The introduction of sodium silicate into wood chips by

saturating them with a 100 g/L solution [130] improved the bond at cement-wood interface and

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Vo & Navard Review of treatments of plant biomass- revised version

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increased compressive strength. However, a loss of strength at long-term exposure was observed

even with the samples stored at ambient temperature.

In order to reduce water absorption and protect fillers in alkaline environment, Juárez et. al. [76] used

several organic water repellent substances such as linseed oil, paraffin wax, linseed oil/rosin

(colophony) and paraffin/rosin for lechuguilla (from the algave family) leaf fibres. The treated leaf

fibres exhibited a reduction in water absorption, good tension strength and ductility. Paraffin was

found to be the most effective agent to protect biomass pieces from water absorption and alkali. Oil

treatment, which was claimed to reduce water absorption, improve water repulsion and reduce the

embrittlement process [9], was also performed on wood shaves as a comparison to treatment with

pastes of binders [73]. The impregnation of wood shaves in oil helped to reduce drying shrinkage,

but unfortunately, it caused a decrease in compressive strength of concretes.

The dimensional variations could be reduced, without significant influence on the compressive

strength, by pulverization of organic hydrophobic components onto of pine wood granules such as

polyethylene glycol or bitumen [138]. Bitumen also was reported to be used for coating cellulosic-

containing materials such as straw to improve quality of the cement mix [139,140].

5.1.2 Chemical treatments

Chemical pre-treatments of biomass are very often used in all technical sectors where biomass is

used. By either selectively removing biomass compounds (as in the case of paper making) or by

chemically modifying either the surface or the interior of biomass materials (as in the case of the use

of cellulose fibres for polymer composites), it allows to improve processing and the use properties of

the final product, at the expense of the cost of the treatment. As stated, the cement hydration is

usually inhibited by the extractives present in lignocellulosic plant species like wood. In

consequence, the elimination of extractives might lead to substantial improvements of properties

[33]. For this reason, it was also suggested that a simple way to improve fibre-matrix bond is to use

materials containing less lignin as well as other chemicals that interfere with the bonds [10].

However, to remove lignin to improve concrete properties has several sides, one being that lignin is

not too much interfering with cement setting and a second being that lignin is protecting the biomass

filler against water intake, an effect known to cause difficulties during processing. Indeed, Tonoli et.

al. [141] reported that a layer of lignin helped lowering water intake and acted as a physical/chemical

barrier to prevent cement from migration into the fibre lumen. Consequently, the fibres were less

vulnerable to mineralization. The use of lignin as a bio-preservation of wood was also described

[142]. Thus, the presence of lignin should in general be a benefit.

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Vo & Navard Review of treatments of plant biomass- revised version

45

[173] V. Nozahic, S. Amziane, G. Torrent, K. Saïdi, H. De Baynast, Design of green concrete made

of plant-derived aggregates and a pumicelime binder, Cem. Concr. Compos. 34 (2012) 231

241. doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2011.09.002.

[174] R.M. de Gutiérrez, L.N. Díaz, S. Delvasto, Effect of pozzolans on the performance of fiber-

reinforced mortars, Cem. Concr. Compos. 27 (2005) 593598.

doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2004.09.010.

[175] V. Agopyan, H. Savastano, V.M. John, M.A. Cincotto, Developments on vegetable fibre

cement based materials in São Paulo, Brazil: an overview, Cem. Concr. Compos. 27 (2005)

527 536. doi:10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2004.09.004.

[176] H.C. Uzoegbo, Evaluation of micro-concrete fibre reinforced roofing tiles with SCM, in: 1st

International conference on bio-based building materials, 2015: p. 661665.

[177] D. Hermawan, B. Subiyanto, S. Kawai, Manufacture and properties of oil palm frond cement-

bonded board, J. Wood Sci. 47 (2001) 208213. doi:10.1007/BF01171223.

[178] M. Sinka, L. Radina, G. Sahmenko, A. Korjakins, D. Bajare, Enhancement of lime-hemp

concrete properties using different Manufacturing technologies, in: 1st International

conference on bio-based building materials, 2015: p. 301308.

[179] J. M. Chi, R. Huang, C. C. Yang, Effects of carbonation on mechanical properties and

durability of concrete using accelerated testing method, J. Mar. Sci. Technol. 10 (2002) 1420.

[180] V.D. Pizzol, L.M. Mendes, H.S. Jr., M. Frías, F.J. Davila, M.A. Cincotto, et al., Mineralogical

and microstructural changes promoted by accelerated carbonation and ageing cycles of hybrid

fiber cement composites, Constr. Build. Mater. 68 (2014) 750756.

doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2014.06.055

[181] V.D. Pizzol, L.M. Mendes, L. Frezzatti, H.S. Jr., G.H.D. Tonoli, Effect of accelerated

carbonation on the microstructure and physical properties of hybrid fiber-cement composites,

Miner. Eng. 59 (2014) 101106. doi:10.1016/j.mineng.2013.11.007

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Vo & Navard Review of treatments of plant biomass- revised version

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Captions for the Figures

Figure 1. Spruce bleached sulphite pulp fibre observed by scanning electron microscopy. Top: this

fibre is the wall of a single cell, where the nucleus was in the central part. What we see here is the

outside part of this fibre. Bottom: the picture is showing the array of microfibrils of less than 100 nm

thickness attached to the surface, surrounding a pit opening (Reprinted with permission from the PhD

dissertation of Nuno dos Santos [24]).

Figure 2. A hemp-based house built in Florida (with permission from Bob Clayton, Florida, USA)

[103].

Figure 3. Coconut reinforced concretes: a) a concrete block, b) the concrete panels and c) the house

built from them (with permission of Nguyen Tan Khoa and his supervisor (Dr. Le Anh Tuan) [104].

Figure 4. Various applications of mountain pine wood concretes [105]. With permission from Pasca,

S & Hartley, ID 2012, 'Beetlecrete An attractive solution to mountain pine beetle epidemic',

Proceedings of International Inorganic-Bonded Fiber Composites Conference (IIBCC 2012), 10-14

September, 2012, Acton, Australia. (Available from: www.proceedings.com. Item #20276)

Figure 5. a) Miscanthus- a miscanthus based noise barrier

and (c) a house built with miscanthus concrete [106]. With authorisation of asbl ValBiom, Croix du

Sud 2, bte 11, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

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