Ever heard of Ceramicrete, MgO cement, Magnesium cement

Has anyone ever worked with MgO cement?  Where can buy it in US?

MgO replaces the Ca found in portland cement. MgO cement makes a concrete that will incorporate cellulose and other organics into the crystalline structure. absorbs CO2 instead of generating it, is an order of magnitude stronger than portland, does not require wetting, and cures in minutes. So basically, you can take some burlap or old blanket and paint this stuff on, then fill the void with straw and cement and make super strong, light and thin structures.

I have looked for it locally but it does not seem to be available to consumers in the US, probably because of the lack of sheep crap which is the typical source of Mg. It is amazing stuff.

This is pretty much the only article I could find about the stuff: http://greenhomebuilding.com/articles/ceramicrete.htm

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cbruce64 years ago
Hi, I've worked with MgO cement. right now my passion is using fabric attached to simple framework, then applying MgO cement.

I'm in the middle of a project that is on hold for a bit, but I can tell you what I've learned so far. I've used much of Michael Collins's suggestions, and some of my own ideas worked in as I've gone along so far.

In a nutshell, am starting by building a simple 19' diameter roundhouse... Bought one big roll of 5' x 150' roll of re-mesh, which can be cut in half, and tied together to make the walls twice as high (1' overlap, 1' sunk into the ground = 8 foot ceilings at the lowest points, the walls).

After digging a foundation trench about 2 feet deep and filling with a drainage tube and gravel, I situated the remesh into place. I used burlap, soaked in diluted MgO cement mix (grancrete) and hung swaths of it from top of the walls to a little longer than the ground, repeating until the walls were covered all around (doors and windows excluded and cut from re-mesh already).

When diluted, this type of mixture will harden into a 'thin shell' material similar to fiberglass. Once the walls were up, I affixed a cone roof with 2-3 feet of overhang. This type of cement isn't considered load-bearing (according to the manufacturers) unless it is mixed at prescribed amounts and applied at about 0.5 to 5/8" thickness.

So...my goal is to use the thin shell / 'diluted' mixture to get the thin shell structure up. This is where I am at now**.

Next, I will mix the MgO cement in the thicker, recommended, formula and spray on with a stucco sprayer to get the full compression strength. Collins recommends a Tirolessa sprayer, but fyi: you can find comparable hopper type stucco sprayers on Amazon for $80. I plan to spray the thicker cement onto interior walls and interior roof,

exterior roof and walls $-saver:

then save money by using Mr. Collins's suggestion of mixing old latex paint with Portland cement (in place of water, adding only a little more water for optimal 'flow'/coverage) and using that for the external roof (poor right on top and spread outward).

Optimally I would like to keep it all sustainable (no-Portland), but to be honest, my goal is to get the framework firmed up and ready for the elements, at which point it can stand for a while if I don't want to or don't have the time to develop it further (it will be a solid 'cement tent' at that point), and using a bit of Portland on the roof will allow me to reach that point of completion sooner.

Longer term/ insulation layer... I will be adding an outer layer of earthbag (feed bags filled with local volcanic rock) all around the outside of the roundhouse. This is also Michael Collin's idea... which I love, so will appropriate it for this first structure>>> after adding the earthbag layer, do a 2nd cone roof layer, and there's your insulated 2-layer roof (punch a hole through center of first roof with longer center pole, affix 2nd roof from new pole to *outside* dimension of earthbag wall).

Can't beat the R-value on a simple house like that, but also you can stretch out the cost of adding insulation, etc in phases as you have the time and money. So it's a super fast way to get a structure up -- can be out of the elements within a few days, depending on site work needed, then add insulation comfort as you have the time/resources.

Sourcing-- Yep, it can be tough to source these products, and though I've gotten very close to figuring out the formula, there are ingredients that themselves would need to be sourced at prices lower than I've found them.. but still researching. That said, as time goes on more and more small natural cement companies are popping up all over, so I recommend you get on your local 'natural building' facebook pages, etc, because there might be a local cement company with affordable natural cements closer than you think.

Best of luck! 

The pics I've attached show 1) the lower half of the re-mesh wall, sunk into a partly filled perimeter trench, 2) swath of burlap, 3) before we raised the roof on the center pole it is hanging over the thin-shell walls so you can't really see the part that is cemented. I have some more pics and vid too, but need to process those and will put them up on http://greencomponents.com/ as soon as I can.
bsims1 (author)  cbruce64 years ago
That is awesome bruce! That's exactly what I was looking for. I was actually thinking about two burlap walls about 6-8" apart. Then fill in the gap with straw soaked in the same thin mix to get a concrete lattice with lots of airspace between the walls. Then seal it shut with spray on interior and exterior layers. If you can get an airspace between the two roof layers, that will really be well insulated.

One thing I'm really curious about is how much straw, paper or other cellulose aggregate you can mix into the cement before it loses it's strength.

Did you ever try to use sodium silicate (waterglass) for the mix?
It goes rock hard once dried, is fireproof and when used as a binder for perlite you can make nice building blocks out of it.
So I am quite sure the perlite can be substituted with straw, paper insulation fluff or other light weight things.
When used in cement it makes it waterproof, so the cement won't act like a sponge whein getting wet.

cbruce6 bsims14 years ago
Hey! you're right about the roof and airspace-- that's my plan. after the first cone roof is applied to the thin shell structure, and i've encased that in earthbag, then a 2nd layer of roof can easily be added by punching through the cone putting taller temp pole in place and extending that roof to the *earthbag layer*'s larger diameter :)

as far as adding aggregate, you don't really want to add any except perhaps a little sand on finishing layers if you're going to make it so diluted as in the thin shell application. But for thicker mixtures, such as used for pouring or spraying (not so much), you can add aggregate as you normally would --of course experimentation will be required fun. in other news, I've been inspired to skip more MgO cement for my next phase and go with Portland plus a latex additive, bringing cost down considerably (until natural cements are easier to come by, this is an acceptable solution for me, as Portland does not create negative effects in the finished structure when used with the additive it functions much like MgO, but of course the production of Portland cement is another story (CO2 contributor). Check out https://www.instructables.com/id/Latex-Concrete-Roof/ and their main site http://velacreations.com/ exciting stuff!!!

Best of luck to you, would like to keep comparing notes,
cbruce6 cbruce64 years ago
to be clear, once the thin shell is up, I will

1.spray the thicker cement mixture onto the interior walls, then
2. tie the roof canvas to wall tops, and tension further to trees for the eaves
3. spray the thicker cement mixture onto *interior* of roof.
4. Once interior roof hardens, it will be much easier to get the Portland/latex-paint mixture poured onto the *exterior* of the roof.
bsims1 (author)  Geoship2 years ago

Yeah, that looks like the stuff. 1300 PSI, and bonds to cellulose and portland concrete; Portland cement barely bonds to it's own aggregate and doesn't really bond to rebar, while the MgO cement will actually crystallize inside cellulose aggregate and bonds to just about anything else. That's why a modern building starts to crumble after a 100 years but the Great Wall of China and Roman Aqueducts are still standing strong.

...but paramagnetic? I'd like to know how that helps plants grow.

MichaelC692 years ago

borax can change strength so watchout 15 minute effects is ideal no longer

bsims1 (author)  MichaelC692 years ago

Do you have any projects or pictures you can share?

MichaelC692 years ago

mgo celluloses deserve more experimentation seems at times acid base rxn effected by water ph

bsims1 (author)  MichaelC692 years ago

I'm not sure there would be any advantage to adding water to the mixture. Unlike portland cement, it does not require wetting while it cures. If you're mixing MgO powder with 10-34-0 Ammonium Poly-Phosphate liquid fertilizer, there will be some water added to the fertilizer. If you are adding straw or grass clippings as the cellulose aggregate, you should probably make sure it's good and dry so the cement will soak in deep. Since it forms a gel and that crystallizes, I'm guessing the water comes to the surface as it dries.

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