- PMID: 36079379
- DOI: 10.3390/ma15176000
Depending on the morphology of the natural fibers, they can be used as reinforcement to improve flexural strength in cement-based composites or as aggregates to improve thermal conductivity properties. In this last aspect, hemp, coconut, flax, sunflower, and corn fibers have been used extensively, and further study is expected into different bioaggregates that allow diversifying of the raw materials. The objective of the research was to develop plant-based concretes with a matrix based on Portland cement and an aggregate of Agave salmiana (AS) leaves, obtained from the residues of the tequila industry that have no current purpose, as a total replacement for the calcareous aggregates commonly used in the manufacturing of mortars and whose extraction is associated with high levels of pollution, to improve their thermal properties and reduce the energy demand for air conditioning in homes. Characterization tests were carried out on the raw materials and the vegetal aggregate was processed to improve its compatibility with the cement paste through four different treatments: (a) freezing (T/C), (b) hornification (T/H), (c) sodium hydroxide (T/NaOH), and (d) solid paraffin (T/P). The effect of the treatments on the physical properties of the resulting composite was evaluated by studying the vegetal concrete under thermal conductivity, bulk density, and compressive strength tests with a volumetric ratio between the vegetal aggregate and the cement paste of 0.36 and a water/cement ratio of 0.35. The hornification treatment showed a 15.2% decrease in the water absorption capacity of the aggregate, resulting in a composite with a thermal conductivity of 0.49 W/mK and a compressive strength of 8.66 MPa, which allows its utilization as a construction material to produce prefabricated blocks.
Keywords: Agave salmiana, compressive strength, natural fibers, plant-based concrete, thermal conductivity