Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Houses made of cardboard

German scientists believe that they have found a way to solve Africa's housing shortage. Gerd Niemoeller has created a cardboard house. The house has been standing up to wind and rain tests, and the scientists believe they are ready to begin production.

Niemoeller's cardboard houses are intended to be sued as emergency shelters or to replace slum housing.

From Jansamachar, we learn more about the design of the houses.

The breakthrough came with Niemoeller's revolutionary method of honeycomb cardboard soaked in polymer resins. Resembling a honeycomb wafer biscuit, this structural design has been a mainstay in aircraft and yacht design for decades, but not in housing.

"Up until now honeycomb structural construction elements have been produced primarily from aluminium. But that of course entails a local industrial capacity which is costly and very energy-intensive - which is unaffordable in the Third World," says Niemoeller.

That's where his "paper house" comes in.

"People want to stay in their own countries. It's only the dire circumstances of poverty which force them to become refugees," he says. "The changing climate will only exacerbate this trend critically, unless we can come up with alternatives."

Niemoeller uses cellulose, primarily from recycled paper, which is soaked in polymer resins. The cellulose mass is subjected to extreme heat and pressure and is formed into wafer-like honeycomb structural elements.

Each honeycomb is a mini-vacuum which helps to hold the panel together and increase tensile strength.

"If you put a nail in the wall, you damage only one single honeycomb without damaging the vacuum properties of the surrounding honeycombs," says the 58-year-old engineer from Luebeck, Germany.

"A 4-centimetre-thick wall has the tensile strength of a 40-centimetre-thick conventional compressed board wall," he says.

1 comment:

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