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The application of Appropriate Technology

Ferrocement Water Tanks And Their Construction

A detailed guide to building ferrocement water tanks.

Water, tanks made from wire-reinforced cement-mortar are used widely in many parts of the world to store water for domestic, stock, irrigation and industrial purposes. They are built by hand trowelling a cement-rich mortar onto a mesh of wire reinforcement to form cylindrical tanks with thin walls which vary in thickness from 3 to 10cm depending on the size of the tank. The steel reinforcement usually consists of straight fencing wire wraped during construction around a cylindrical formwork, or woven wire mesh tied to a supporting framework of weld mesh or heavier reinforcing rod.

Although this publication is called Ferrocement Water Tanks and their Construction, this is not strictly accurate. The tanks it describes should really be called wire-reinforced cement-mortar water tanks. The main difference is that in ferrocement there is a very dense mesh of woven or welded reinforcing wire that has to have a minimum value of wire volume for each unit volume of material. The quantities of straight wire reinforcement used in most of the examples collected for this publication fall far below this minimum value, although they provide ample strength for the purpose. Nevertheless the material is closer in many respects to ferrocement than to ordinary reinforced concrete. The wires distribute the loads through the mortar preventing them from concentrating in planes of’weakness which would lead to the early failure of an unreinforced material. The straight wire reinforcement is chosen because it is both many times cheaper than the equivalent weight of woven wire is easy to wrap around a small diameter cylindrical form.

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