Environmentally Secure Concrete Houses

Addressing the Need for Permanent Shelter in Hawaii

Advantages of Lightweight Composite over Regular Concrete

Concrete does not need to be cold, damp, dense, and hard to work with.

© 1997 John August

The following is a brief examination summary based on three perspectives:


1. Decreased Dead Load. Less mass is required to support additional weight. Structural reinforcement can be less demanding.

2. Seismic (Earthquake) Resistance. In lower densities concrete can actually absorb shock. LWC is often used in ballistic tests because of this ability. Hammer blows can be absorbed without fracturing the concrete.

3. Water Permeability. Greatly reduced due to the diffusion of closed cells which prevents sponging. Also reduces problems caused by rusting rebar by eliminating the problem at its source.

4. Sound Absorption. The transmission of sound is inversely related to the number of air/solid interfaces. LWC has a high number of these interfaces, thus more sound is absorbed.

5. Insulation. Enhanced R-values, especially in the lower density range. Again, this is due to the increased number of air/solid interfaces.

6. Fire Resistance. Greatly improved due to lower thermal conductivity. Spalling (scaling or flake chipping from heat) is reduced or eliminated.

7. Adaptability. Lighter weight increases options for in situ (on sight) casting. Forming can be swifter and easier due to less supported weight.

8. Simplicity. Ordinary tools can be used for alterations. It can be easily sawn and sculpted, and nailed or screwed without predrilling.



1. Pumping. Fewer failures at the pump from balling or compacting. Air bubbles from the foam act as miniature ball bearings in the mix. There are no settling out problems.

2. Increased yield. Having a greater yield/ton equates to reduced fuel consumption and lower transit costs for the producer. Adding foam up to 10% volume (and subtracting aggregate and water) will not significantly reduce concrete strength - in some cases it may improve.

3. No Surface Bleedwater. Reduction of excess water in the mix allows for sooner finishing. Flowability is achieved through the foam. Water can be utilized strictly for cement hydration.

4. Placement. Less handling weight makes all aspects of moving concrete easier, resulting in reduced labor costs and quicker turnover.



1. Economic. The design of economic concrete structures is accomplished by increasing the strength/weight ratio. LWC can be a viable replacement for wood in construction, including floors, walls, ceilings, and roof structures. Concrete in its lower densities has more of the positive characteristics of wood, e.g, not being cold or feeling damp to the touch. Endless repairs (or even total structural failure) due to fire, flood, rot, and termites can be eliminated. Structures can have much higher thermal efficiency resulting in lower heating or air conditioning costs.

2. Architectural. The beauty of concrete is its ability to adapt to any shape, whether angular or curvilinear. If desired, it can be cast in forms to make it look like wood.

3. Environmental. The problem of deforestation can be reduced by relinquishing the demand for timber and substituting LWC in residential construction. Lightweight concrete in conjunction with tasteful design can be the solution for this environmental dilemma.



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