Pumice Defined

 Uses for Pumice

>Worldwide Application

 Hybrid Applications

 Affordable Housing








Pumice aggregate can be found in many places around the world where volcanoes are and have been present (Photo on left: local phillipine pumice supplier).   Although it has been used successfully in many countries finding new and improved ways to build with pumice is becoming widespread. New sources of volcanic aggregate are being produced steadily.

The Caribbean island of Monseratt has recently witnessed one of its volcanoes erupting and emitting large quantities of pumice aggregate in the lava flows. Of course these volcanic eruptions are very dangerous catastrophes but what they leave after the danger has passed is often a very useful material. Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in the early1990's and did a tremendous amount of damage. A fertile and very beautiful rice growing valley was totally overrun by the flow of hot volcanic lava (Photo on right: Fertile rice fields were turned into lava/pumice wasteland). This displaced the residents of the area, many of which were farmers. Many were forced into temporary housing in tent cities and many were just made homeless. Presently the much of the valley is a wasteland of volcanic aggregate much of which is useful pumice.

During the summer of 1997 Scott MacHardy went to the Phillipines and demonstrated the usefulness of this material. Workers were hired to gather the pumice and it was screened (Photo on left: Screen used to sort two sizes of pumice by hand) and put in used rice sacks. This created some badly needed employment opportunities for the area. It also created a useful building material for constructing affordable housing.

In one case a container of pumice was shipped to the Peoples Republic of Vietnam and a 36 sq. meter model home was built. The Vietnamese builders were very used to using concrete which is a standard construction material. They had never seen pumice before and were very pleased to work with it (Photo on left: Scott and Vietnamese builders in front of freshly poured Pumice-Crete® walls ).

The insulating properties of the Pumice-Crete® are very beneficial in the hot climate of South Vietnam. Because it is lightweight Pumice-Crete® is easier to mix and work with by hand without expensive machinery. (Photo on right: mixing crew making Pumice-Crete® with forming in background).  Work is currently being undertaken to apply the use of Pumice-Crete® to the extensive need for affordable housing in Vietnam.  (Photo on below: 36 sq. meter model home built in Peoples Republic of Vietnam. ).

One interesting outcome of the work in Vietnam was the experimenting of a hybrid wall made of Pumice-Crete® reinforced with bamboo. Bamboo is plentiful in the area so 4" slabs of Pumice-Crete® were poured with bamboo at 6" centers for reinforcement. Normally Pumice-Crete® poured in a thin diaphragm like this is very brittle (Photo on right: cut of slab showing Pumice-Crete® reinforced with bamboo ). Even with rebar to reinforce it a thin section of pumice will break easily in a shear test. The samples we made with bamboo seemed close to indestructible .

The materials combined produced a slab that had flexibility and strength like a diving board at a swimming pool. It was thought that a system like this could make a panel system that could be made at a central location and assembled at scattered sites.  (Photo below: Field testing the bamboo/Pumice-Crete® slabs. Samples were later jumped on by author with added weight in an unsuccessful attempt to break the slabs.)

Pumice-Crete® Building Systems is interested in developing the use of Pumice-Crete® and other appropriate technologies for affordable housing in all areas of the planet where these materials are available. All correspondences regarding this subject are welcome.

Please contact:
Scott MacHardy Pumice-Crete® Building Systems of New Mexico
PO Box 539
El Prado NM, 87529

: 575-758-6954
fax: 575-776-5879

PO Box 539, EL Prado, New Mexico 87529



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