Rapid Urbanization combined with urban sprawl has led to the fast growth of housing sector in Kenya. With the increase in demand for middle income housing, there has been need for developers in Kenya to go for advanced cheaper building technologies to cut building cost, maintain quality standards, and at the same time reduce housing deficit.
The developers have resorted to the use of Expanded Polystyrene Sintered Panels for building houses as one of the advanced building technologies. Using these panels makes the construction process easier from the budgeting process, procuring of construction materials to site supervision.
Emmedue (M2) Technology in Italy are the pioneers of Using Expanded Polystyrene Sintered panels in building houses. The technology is currently used in over 170 countries; with Kenya being the 20th country in Africa to adopt it. C-MAX is one of companies that have specialized in the use of EPS panels in Kenya.
“The panels are made of high density polystyrene core, sandwiched with galvanized steel wire mesh”, Mr. Mburu Karanja, the managing director at CMAX said during an interview with NTV.
Polystyrene is a by- product of crude oil that has intumescent flame retardant coatings; majorly Phenolic Expoxy Resin(PER), Ammonium polyphosphate(APP) and Tanic acid functionalized Graphere (TGE)that is fabricated and coated on the surfaces of EPS foam plate in the ratio of PER:APP:TGE 20:20:0.65
The EPS is then expanded using steam to make customized panels, and sandwiched with a galvanized steel wire mesh which is in then sprayed with structural mortar in ratio of structural mortar: cement 1:4
Mr. Mburu Karanja also went ahead to give the following benefits of using EPS panels in construction.
“Using EPS panels minimises construction time as it is a rapid building technology, the panels are installed and the structural mortar are spayed the following day”.
“EPS panels are sound proof and important for heat/fire insulation. The temperatures in these houses remain constant even in extreme weather”
“The technology is environmental friendly as eliminating stones and bricks reduce carbon foot prints and the overall weight of the structure is reduced as the panels are light”.
“A building made of EPS panels is cheaper as the blocks are only used in setting the foundations, and is stronger as compared to those made of bricks and blocks”.