Improving life quality with clay

Meet PhD student Fati Zoma who is part of the ISP supported Energy and Environment Research Group at University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.

PhD student Fati Zoma sees everything in terms of materials. Her dream was to study architecture but the lack of architecture education in Burkina Faso, combined with the opportunity to study civil engineering materials lead her to where she is today – researching how local, ecological clay materials can be used in the building of low energy consuming houses.

- We know that houses made of clay and soil are very efficient energy wise, since it keeps the temperature inside the houses constant. In a warm climate like in Burkina, it makes a big difference for the comfort and living standard if the house material prevent as much as possible heat from the sun for getting inside. The use of air-conditioning also goes down and less energy is being used.

With her research Fati is trying to give a scientific explanation to how and why clay and soil materials are efficient, and to come up with guidelines on how to reach certain efficiency standards in house materials. She is in Sweden at Uppsala University for 1.5 month to assure that the results she got in Burkina are right and to conduct some experiments she couldn’t preform back home. 

Fati mixes different combinations of clay and soil in order to get the right formula. Now she is in the last stage to make all the formulas and will be testing the mixtures in a simulator to see how much heat is going inside.

- We need to see how clay materials work, and why. We know that the use of clay can improve life quality and decrease the consumption of energy we just have to explain and prove it. The clay we are using is local and a more environmental friendly option to concrete.

July 2014