Evaluation of the Thermal and Structural Performance of Straw Bale Construction
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This thesis is primarily divided into two distinct experimental programs evaluating: 1) the thermal performance and, 2) the structural performance of straw bale construction. The thermal performance chapter describes hot-box testing (based on ASTM C1363-11) of seven straw bale wall panels to obtain their apparent thermal conductivity values. All panels were constructed with stacked bales and cement-lime plaster skins on each side of the bales. Four panels were made with traditional, 2-string field bales of densities ranging from 89.5 kg/m3 – 131 kg/m3 and with the bales on-edge (fibres perpendicular to the heat flow). Three panels were made with manufactured high-density bales (291 kg/m3 – 372 kg/m3). The fibres of the manufactured bales were randomly oriented. The key conclusion of this work is that within the experimental error, there is no difference in the apparent thermal conductivity value for panels using normal density bales and manufactured high-density bales up to a density of 333 kg/m3. The structural performance chapter describes gravity and transverse load testing (based on ASTM E72-15) of non-plastered modular straw bale wall (DBW) panels to evaluate their strength capacity and failure modes. The out-of-plane flexural (OPF) tests exhibited a mean ultimate bending moment of 49.7 kNm. The axial compression (AC) tests exhibited a mean ultimate line load of 161.0 kN/m. The local flexural header beam (HP) tests exhibited an ultimate line load of 31.6 kN/m. The OPF and AC capacities of the DBW exceeded the capacities exhibited by a conventional 38 mm x 140 mm stud wall. However, the DBW’s header beam strength and stiffness was inferior to conventional stud wall.