SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 20 September 2018

Sustainable Cellulose Masonry


A novel masonry material containing postindustrial cellulose, bentonite clay, and small amounts of other additives (e.g., antifungal, desiccant and water proofing agents) was made and characterized. The overall mechanical properties of the composite material are controlled and tailored by varying the ratio of the primary constituents (postindustrial cellulose and bentonite clay). This grade of cellulose is no longer suitable for use in the manufacture of recycled paper products and, as such, it is considered a waste product. The described process repurposes this cellulose waste as a component in a structural element that can be worked using standard woodworking tools. The material’s compressive strength ranges from approximately 338 psi (2.33 MPa) at low bentonite ratios (less than 50 % by mass) to approximately 1,015 psi (7.01 MPa) at higher bentonite ratios (greater than 60 % by mass). The higher bentonite ratio, Ratio B, has a compressive strength similar to that of a Class 2 burnt brick but does not require the material to be fired (i.e., a significant cost and energy savings). This material can be easily painted, stained, or surface-treated much like wood. However, unlike wood and other masonry products (e.g., concrete), it exhibits a failure mode more similar to that of a polymer where the material does not catastrophically fail—rather it slowly yields and shows visible deformation. This mode of failure provides ample warning before a piece fails and gives time for it to be repaired or replaced before catastrophic failure. The material is also lighter and cheaper to produce than most competing products as one of its main components is a postindustrial waste product.

Author Information

Olson, Zack
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Port Angeles, WA, US
Cook, Wes
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Civil Engineering Dept., Socorro, NM, US
Henneke, Dale
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Civil Engineering Dept., Socorro, NM, US
Price: $25.00
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Developed by Committee: C07
Pages: 56–66
DOI: 10.1520/STP161220170153
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7670-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7669-0