IIT-Madras builds two-storeyed building with gypsum

Chennai, June 7 (IANS) The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) has developed a technology with which gypsum, found aplenty with fertiliser companies like the Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. (FACT), can be used in construction of houses.

"With the backing of IIT-M, the construction technology using gypsum can go ahead" and state housing boards can use the technology to complete construction work faster, said T.K.A. Nair, advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He was inaugurating the two storeyed apartment demonstration building of the institute constructed with glass fibre reinforced gypsum (GFRG).

Devdas Menon, professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, said the technology is ideal for mass housing, hostels and other similar buildings, and eight-ten storey buildings can be constructed with this technology.

"Cement and steel factories are energy intensive. Further construction materials like sand, cement and steel may not be available for the future generations and hence alternatives have to be looked at," Menon said.

Asked about the cost advantage for this new technology when the cost of construction in traditional mode begins at Rs.1,500, he said: "The one major advantage is quick completion time. This building was built in one month. Once the technology is adopted widely the cost will go down."

According to him, in any building the cost of structure is around 50 percent and the balance is finishing costs.

The IIT-M's 1,981 sq. ft building inside its campus has two flats with a carpet area of 269 sq.ft each and another two with a carpet area of 497 sq.ft.

The cost of construction comes to around Rs.2.47 million at Rs.1,250 per sq.ft.

"The finishing in the demonstration building is very good. So that even people in the economically weaker sections can have nicely finished apartments," Menon said.

The demonstration building at IIT-M will be used by another research group that is working on decentralised solar photovoltaic systems with direct current appliances to demonstrate savings in electrical energy consumption.

While gypsum panels have been in use for walls, IIT-M team decided to have it on roofs, floors and staircases. The team also worked on improving the water proofing aspects of the panels on the roofs and toilets.

The GFRG panels for the demonstration building came from FACT-RCF Building Products Ltd in Kochi.

In order to increase the load bearing capacity, cement concrete were filled in select cavities in the panels.

According Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director at IIT-M, the institution believes in bringing technology closer to market and people.

"We are working in the areas of handling waste water, energy, healthcare (affordable healthcare screening technologies). IIT-M is not only focused on education, research, consultancy but also on transformation technology," Ramamurthi said.