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Sticky Rice is 1,500 Year Old Secret to Super-Strong Chinese Buildings

Posted By Bridgette Meinhold On June 1, 2010 @ 1:06 pm In Architecture,Disaster-proof design,Green Materials,Green renovation,Sustainable Building | 9 Comments

building technology, design for strength, earthquake proof design, sticky rice, chinese construction, china, sticky rice mortar, mortar, super strong mortar, green design, eco design, sustainable building, green renovation, renovation, restoration, historic buildings, ancient buildings, green materials, disaster-proof designPhoto by Bridgette Meinhold

Sticky rice, which has been a staple of the Chinese diet for centuries, also played a huge role in the construction of their ultra-durable cities and walls. The glutinous side dish has been used since the Ming Dynasty to create a super-strong mortar that has helped keep ancient buildings intact and resisted earthquakes [1]. Scientists recently discovered [2] what it is about glutinous rice that creates the super-strength mortar, and have also determined that sticky rice mortar is best available material to restore ancient and historic buildings [3].

building technology, design for strength, earthquake proof design, sticky rice, chinese construction, china, sticky rice mortar, mortar, super strong mortar, green design, eco design, sustainable building, green renovation, renovation, restoration, historic buildings, ancient buildings, green materials, disaster-proof design [4]Photo by Real Thai Recipes [5]

Around 1,500 years ago, the Chinese started adding sticky rice soup to their traditional lime mortar mixture, which dramatically increased the strength of the mortar. Important buildings like tombs, pagodas [6], and city walls were constructed using this composite mixture, and some of the buildings are still standing today even after earthquakes. Bingjian Zhang, Ph.D., and colleagues performed studies to hone in on the key ingredient in the sticky rice to determine why it made for such a strong mortar.

The results showed that the organic-inorganic compound was made possible by amylopectin [7], a type of polysaccharide, or complex carbohydrate, found in rice and other starchy foods. The amylopectin combines with the inorganic calcium carbonate from the lime to form a mortar that has more stable physical properties, greater mechanical strength, and is more compatible than normal lime mortar. After their tests on various mortar recipes, the scientists determined that the sticky rice mortar is the most suitable mortar for restoration [8] of ancient buildings, which means its probably also appropriate for new construction as well.

Via PhysOrg [2]


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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/sticky-rice-is-1500-year-old-secret-to-super-strong-chinese-buildings/

URLs in this post:

[1] resisted earthquakes: http://inhabitat.com/2010/04/12/affordable-earthquake-resistant-homes-made-from-straw/

[2] Scientists recently discovered: http://www.physorg.com/news194411869.html

[3] restore ancient and historic buildings: http://inhabitat.com/2010/05/28/herzog-de-meurons-elphilharmonie-concert-hall-tops-out/

[4] Image: http://inhabitat.com/2010/06/01/sticky-rice-is-1500-year-old-secret-to-super-strong-chinese-buildings/sticky-rice-mortar/

[5] Real Thai Recipes: http://www.realthairecipes.com/articles/how-to-make-rice/

[6] pagodas: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/15/passively-designed-china-pavilion-unveiled-at-the-shanghai-expo-2010/

[7] amylopectin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amylopectin

[8] restoration: http://inhabitat.com/renovation/

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