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Agave fiber reinforced gypsum flat panels
The work reported here has been carried on by a research group led by industrial designers with the support of other professionals from the fields of architecture and engineering. The aim of the research project is to develop a new flat panel for building construction. The end product is a sandwich structure comprising a core of gypsum and water plaster mixed with expanded thermoplastic beads and agave dry fiber (agave fiber used here is an important waste from the tequila production process) with paperboard skins covering the external faces.
This report addresses experimentation on several mixtures of agave fibers and natural binders to produce a thin reinforcement mat aimed to improve among other properties the flexural strength of the flat panels. Both expanded polystyrene beads and fibers are recovered materials that contribute to produce a light weight resistant building component. Agave fiber mats aim a better distribution of fibers in the cores of the panels and are obtained by using different amounts of fiber and various types of natural binders. Finally, mats are placed in the middle of the gypsum nucleus during production process, so the cores and the reinforcement mat form a better unit-integrated building construction element. Here some qualitative results of the experimental work are exposed, such as the difficulties to achieve homogenous and resistant mats, however, some results of the mechanical resistance tests of the panels are also offered. Finally, we point out that one of the main objectives of this project is to achieve the lowest possible ecological impact during the panels’ fabrication.