1.0 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
Concrete is a composite material that consists essentially of a binding medium within which are embedded particles of fragments of aggregate (ASTMC 125). In hydraulic cement concrete, the binder is formed from a mixture of hydraulic cement and water. Concrete is a universal material used mostly in construction work. In his 1961 presidential address to the ACI convention, calling concrete a universal material and emphasizing that all engineers need to know more about concrete, J.W. Kelly said:
‘’One would not think of using wood for a dam, steel for pavement, or asphalt for a building frame, but concrete is used for each of these and for many other uses than other construction materials.
Even where another material is the principal component of a structure, concrete is usually used with it for certain portions of the work. It is used to support, to enclose, to surface, and to fill’’.
In order to improve some of the properties of concrete in both the fresh and hardened states, certain chemical products are added to the mix. These chemical are called admixtures (Mehta and Monterio, 2001).
As years and time went by, other materials which are in-organic in nature were also introduced into the mix of concrete. The original reasons for using the in-organic materials were usually for economic purposes due to the fact that they are cheaper and they exist as natural deposit or wastes. They require little or no processing, such in-organic materials are called additives (Otunyo, et al 2010).
More so, the use of some additive materials was provided by ecological concerns about opening of oil palm industries for the additive material (oil palm fiber) required for the use of a concrete and on the other hand, the means of disposing the industrial waste such as coconut fiber, sugar cane fiber etc. virtually all the materials bestowed various desirable properties on concrete, sometimes the fresh state but more often in the hardened state. Therefore because of this fact and virtue in many countries, high proportion of concrete contain one or more of these additive materials as added and used as an additive in concrete (Neil, J. and Ravindra, K.D).
1.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE USE OF OIL PALM FIBER AS AN ADDITIVE IN CONCRETE
The African Oil palm, with botanical name Elaeis guineenis is native to tropical Africa, from Sierra Leone in the West through the Democratic Republic of Congo in the East. It was domesticated in its native range, probably in Nigeria, and moved throughout tropical Africa by humans who practiced shifting agriculture at least 5000 years ago. European explorers discovered the palm in the late 1400’s and distributed it throughout the world during slave trade period. In the early 1800’s the slave trade ended but British began trading with West Africans in Ivory, lumber and palm oil. The oil palm was introduced to the Americas hundreds of years ago, where it became naturalized and associated with slave plantations, but did not become an industry of its own until the 1960s. The first plantations were established on Sumatra in 1911, and in 1917 in Malaysia.
According to (El-Dakroury A. and Gasser M.S. Rice Husk, 2008)Oil palm fiber originated from the empty fruit bunch i.e one of the oil palm residues. Oil palm residues contained huge amount of lignocelluloses materials such as empty fruit bunches, oil palm fronts and trunks that help to strengthen the bonding of structure of building materials. These residues are assets for the country to turn its abundant supply of oil palm industrial by-products into value-added products. This results in optimizing the usage of these residues and completely scraping the idea of burning the residues that often create environmental problems by generating severe air pollution that is against the Environmental Protection Act.
Palm oil fibers which the palm oil fruit bunches produced are clean, biodegradable and can be compared to many other residues originating from other agricultural plantation. Generally, the oil palm fruit bunches are used as composite in manufacturing of mattress, car seat, insulator, composite panel product and particle board. The oil palm fibers have much ability that improves certain properties that combines with it, hence it is suitable for cement based building products (Satoru, 1998).
Studies have been carried out to investigate oil palm fiber as an additive in concrete. It has been reported that the strength of concrete increased by more than 40% of its original strength when the fiber is added into the concrete. The percentage used was 0.10% and 0.25% fibers by weight of cement. Studies have shown that the increase in strength is due to that hemicelluloses, cellulose and lignin, further investigation has also been carried out to investigate the use of oil palm fiber as an additive in concrete. In which report as shown that the oil palm fibers increase the compressive strength of the concrete.
Over hundred years, the oil palm industries found themselves faced with so many problems of vital importance arising from the oil crises of 1973. The cost of burning the residues obtained from oil palm industries most especially the oil palm fibers and some other residues that often create environmental problems by generating severe air pollution which is against the Environmental Protection Act. It was also discovered that the fibrous biomass is yet to be commercially exploited. This prompts the technology development in the industry to still focus on process development and improvement rather than creating and inventing newer products for value-added application. The need for materials not harmful to the body but having appropriate properties which has increased due to lack of resources and increase in environmental pollution (Rashid et al, 2010).
So, the fact that oil palm fiber can be added to other constituent materials of concrete to be used as an additive, this project was simply carried out to determine the increase in strength of concrete. This creates another alternative for uses rather than burning the fibers which cause environmental problem and generate air pollution.
Therefore, this project will be justified if the experiment succeeds. In establishing the fact that oil palm fiber can be used as an additive in concrete without losing most of its structural properties rather increase the properties most especially the strength of the concrete and thus creates more benefits that make the structures to be more durable (Otunyo et al, 2011).
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main aim of this study was to find out the possibility of using oil palm fiber as an additive in concrete and improving the properties of concrete. The objectives are listed below;
1. To study the strength of oil palm fiber concrete (OPFC)
2. To gain knowledge about naturally reinforced concrete
3. To find out the advantages of oil palm fiber added concrete as compared to conventional concrete.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH
The scope of this research is limited by finance and time as it is generally known that concrete is a very complex constructional material whose strength can be affected by many factors ranging from the quality of the constituent materials, quality of the concrete mix and ambient temperature. The effect of all these factors should be considered.
Therefore, the title and short period of time is not just enough to maintain all these confirmations.
More so, the facts that concrete are destructive in nature implies that there is little or no allowance for repeated material utility. So any extension of the research to cover those aspect earlier mentioned will require more materials and more financial power involvement.
So, the research project work is limited to the comparation of the compressive strength test, slump test and density test of the ordinary mixed concrete only and the additive concrete (i.ess when oil palm fiber is added).
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