The project envisaging the construction of low cost, portable houses using the glass fibre reinforced gypsum (GFRG) panels is slowly gaining foothold in Kerala. The GFRG is promoted by the Building Materials and Technology promotion Council which functions under the central ministry of housing. The RCF Building Products Limited, based at FACT’s headquarters in Ambalamedu, Kochi, is the first enterprise to carry out the project in the state.
GFRG panels are known for building low-cost and environment-friendly houses whose construction can be completed in an impressively short time. Every feature of the house including the walls, roof, stairway and ceiling could be made with the GFRG panels. However, the foundation and the basement cannot be constructed using this technology. This unique technology helps avoid cement plastering the walls, thereby saving a considerable amount of money.
The main raw materials used to make the GFRG panels are phosphogypsum (a byproduct of phosphoric acid), rowing glass and ammonium carbonate.
Building and size
The slurry obtained by heating the calcined raw gypsum at 140 – 150 degree Celsius, is transported to the facility where the panels are made. This is then mixed with water and other chemicals and spread in moulds which are 3 meters wide and 12 meters long. The glass fibres are mixed into the first layer using screen roller. Another layer of raw gypsum is spread and is finished off with an outer layer of glass mixture. These panels are sent to a dryer where they are dried at 275 degree Celsius for at least 60 minutes. The dried panels are then transferred to the storage area where they are cut into required pieces and transported to the various construction sites.
The panels which are 3 meters wide and 12 meters long have a width of 0.124 meters or 5 inches. These panels weigh around 1800 kilos. A square meter of GFRG panels cost Rs 1120, while an entire panel costs around Rs 40,000.
• The houses made using the GFRG panels can resist natural calamities like earth quakes.
• The temperature inside the house would be 3 – 4 degree Celsius less than the temperature outside.
• As the width of the panel is 5 inches, the carpet area ratio would be more. It helps reduce the cost of construction.
• The panels have a smooth finished surface which can be white-washed or painted without cement plastering on it.
• The walls of the bathrooms and the roof of the house, constructed using GFRG panels, become naturally water proof.
• The hollow cavities in the 3 meters wide and 12 meters long panels help balance the weight of the house.
• The use of cement, steel and sand could be reduced.
• Time could be saved as the hollow cavity panels are cut according to the plan, leaving space to install windows, doors and other openings.
• For constructing the roof, the panels are hoisted and arranged using crane and secured with 3 mm wild mesh. Concrete plastering in 2 inches thickness too is done to complete the roof.
• The foundation should be built using hard rocks. The basement is then constructed at 1:10 ratio mixture, with a beam belt, in 20 cm x 20 cm, built over it. 10 mm iron rods are extended from this beam belt into which the panels are arranged in a vertical position. The walls are strengthened using concrete mixture containing 12 mm mettle.
• The cost of construction of the GFRG house would be 30% less than the usual houses. The price of the panels begins from Rs 1500 per square feet. The construction could be completed pretty quickly as well.
• The wiring jobs could be easily done as electric pipes could be inserted through the cavities in the panels.