Creating sustainable, long-lasting structures is at the core of environmentally-friendly architecture. Many researchers have been working on a better cement, but what if all you need to make a durable structure is available for take-out?
Recent studies of Ming Dynasty-era structures in China found that the secret to their lasting strength and stability is the mixing of sticky rice into the mortar.
Chinese builders started adding starchy sticky rice soup to their lime mortar mixtures around 1,500 years ago. The builders found that it added to the mortar's strength and they were right. Scientists studying tombs, pagodas and city walls still standing from that time found that they all included this magic ingredient -- many even withstood earthquakes.
So, what makes sticky rice such a perfect addition to mortar? Well, specifically it's the amylopectin, a polysaccharide found in starchy foods, that combines with the calcium carbonate in the lime and forms an ultra-strength mortar. The scientists tested other mortar recipes and found that the sticky rice mixture was the best for restoring ancient structures.
While, it's unlikely that American builders will start stocking up on rice for their construction projects, this finding does clue us in on how organic materials can add to the strength of buildings and may hopefully lead to longer-lasting structures.
written by dining room table, June 03, 2010
written by mee, June 04, 2010
written by James Bank, July 12, 2010
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