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Solar drying of clay bricks in the courtyard. 

Solar drying of clay bricks in the courtyard. 

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When somebody is interested in building a house in the year-round-hot and humid regions, faces with the decision of using modern construction block material or the traditional red fired clay brick material. We performed mechanical and thermal controlled measurements on walls made using both materials. We found that the ancient tradition of using fi...

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... the characterization of material properties, new and better construction materials are being developed every day. Nevertheless, in different regions of the world, traditional construction procedures are still being used. These are aimed at using the local resources available in the surrounding area. Commonly, these materials are the most abundant and climate friendly for a particular region, developed on a trial-and-error basis. In particular, in central Tabasco, Mexico, the use of clay bricks dates back to the pre-Hispanic ages. In this paper, we compare the thermal characteristics of the traditionally hand crafted fired clay bricks in central Tabasco with commercially available modern construction blocks. Thermal and resistance measurements were performed, which confirm the legitimacy of the use of the fired clay bricks made by traditional procedures. The manufacturing of fired clay bricks (red mud bricks) is an art. It starts with the selection of the best clay (dry mud), which has to be free of any organic compounds. The clay is later mixed with regular sand. The ideal mixture is 80% clay and 20% sand. This mixture is deposited in rectangular wooden molds of 27 Â 13 Â 5.2 cm (Fig. 1). After molding, the pieces are allowed to dry under sun for 2–3 days, depending on the weather conditions (Fig. 2). This procedure is determined by the brick consistency to pile up (Fig. 3). The above-described procedure is formulated by artisans with enough experience to empirically determine the required consistency and time frames of the procedure. The dry clay bricks pile up in a criss-cross manner one over the other (Fig. 4). The bricks are baked for 24 h. The temperature of the oven is selected depending on the desired end product [1]. The fuel is a combination of firewood and coconut shells. The coconut shells are responsible for the characteristic red color of the clay bricks. The resulting clay bricks have a final size of 25 Â 12.5 Â 5 cm due to the loss of humidity during baking (Fig. 5). The fired clay bricks made in central Tabasco may be classified depending on the baking temperature and the characteristic color of the end product [1] Type A : high-temperature baking (blackish or dark red). Type B : medium-temperature baking (red). Type C : low-temperature baking (orange or cram-colored). The most commonly used fired clay brick in central Tabasco is the red clay brick (type B) (Fig. 6). We compared this type of fired clay bricks with commercially available blocks used in the same area. The resistance comparison was done using the Mexican materials quality norm [1,2]. The thermal comparison was done using the Fourier conduction equation and the Stefan–Boltzmann law [3,4]. To establish the temperature response of the fired clay bricks type B and the comparison with commercial blocks we built a one-square meter wall each of both materials. The block wall was made using standard construction materials (cement–sand–grave) with 40 Â 20 Â 10 cm blocks. The clay brick wall was made using the central Tabasco construction techniques, using cement as the piling material. These walls were positioned horizontally to have them exposed to solar energy. In order to prevent convection losses in air, we used a glass window on top of the wall and foam on the bottom. The temperature was detected using four LM335 temperature sensors, two on each side of the wall. Both walls were exposed to the sun all day long, and the temperature fluctuations were recorded using a PC. The experimental set-up is shown in Fig. 7. Heat transfer occurs by conduction, convection or radiation. The convection heat transfer was avoided in the present study by a suitable experimental set-up in order to study only the conduction and radiation heat transfers governed by the Fourier law and the Stefan–Boltzmann law, respectively [3,4]. The heat transfer by conduction is given ...

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