Exploring the use of seaweed biopolymers in composite construction products

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2017
Thesis identifier
  • T14663
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 201280208
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The ambition of this research was to develop composite building products which utilise a locally sourced, natural material in the form of alginate - a biopolymer derived from macro-algae. Two case study materials were included as part of the project: unfired clay bricks, where the alginate was used as a stabilising additive, and an alginate-based insulation, which was proposed as an alternative to petrochemical-based foams or silica aerogels. For both materials, a series of prototypes were produced and characterised in order to investigate the role of the alginate source and chemical composition on the properties of the final material.The results demonstrated that the source and composition of the alginate can have an important influence on the properties of the two proposed products. For the clay bricks, improvements in mechanical strength were found to be dependent upon the alginate source and the composition of the soil. The greatest increase in compressive strength equated to 2.5 times that of the equivalent control specimen and was achieved using an alginate sourced from the Laminaria Hyperborea seaweed. Increases in the alginate dosage did not necessarily lead to an increase in strength suggesting that there is an optimum concentration at which strength improvement is most effective. For the aerogel product, whilst all of the biopolymers tested offered an improvement over the control sample, again the results confirmed that the type of alginate used has a significant influence on the physical properties of the composites. Although alginate variables are not typically considered in the existing literature, this study has demonstrated that there may be significant variations in the quality of specimens produced using alginate from different sources. It was also concluded that, for both of the proposed products, larger prototypes should be analysed in order to facilitate direct comparison with other buildings materials.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2017
Former identifier
  • 9912559583402996