Alkali activation is a novel method of soil stabilisation, which could be used for the production of compressed blocks as walling materials. Given that much of the fundamental research into the chemical behaviour of this process has been done for small specimens, there is a knowledge gap over the potential effects of increasing specimen size. In this study, blocks were made from a mix of soil, sand and sodium hydroxide solution using a manual block press. Their phase composition and microstructure were investigated using powder X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy; drying behaviour and compressive strength were also measured. No major microstructural or phase differences were found between the central and edge regions of the blocks. Longer curing time had little effect on phase formation and microstructure, but resulted in increased compressive strength. There are no fundamental chemical issues obstructing the scale-up of this stabilisation method, but further research should focus on the measurement of properties in line with building standards and eliminating hazards in the manufacturing process.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers: Construction Materials
Early online date7 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the Masonry Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, for hosting A. Marsh on a research placement at the Indian Institute of Science. The authors thank Mr Nikhil Venugopal, Mr Nikhilash and Mr Raghu for assistance with block specimen production, and Mr Fosas De Pando for assistance with obtaining weather data. This document is an output from the UKIERI (UK India Education and Research Initiative) project (UGC 2016-17-063) funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO), British Council Division, Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, The Scottish Government, Department of Economy-Northern Ireland and Welsh Government for the benefit of the Indian and UK Higher and Further Education Sector. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the funding bodies. This study was also supported by the EPSRC Centre for Decarbonisation of the Built Environment (dCarb) (grant number EP/L016869/1) and a University of Bath Research Scholarship. All data created during this research are openly available from the University of Bath data archive at https://doi.org/10.15125/BATH-00564.


  • brickwork & masonry
  • developing countries
  • materials technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials


Dive into the research topics of 'Scale-up effects in alkali-activated soil blocks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this