What are GFRG Panels?
Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum or GFRG Panels are pre-fabricated load bearing wall panels. In other words, GFRG Panels are prefabricated Gypsum Boards reinforced with Glass Fibres.
Use of GFRG panels eliminates the use of blocks/bricks for constructing of the structure. GFRG Panels are being precast in the industries and then brought to the site and fixed on the structure.
The GFRG Panels being used for walls is filled with concrete inside it. After the foundation is laid (using conventional method), these GFRG panels are being erected on the foundation with the help of cranes.
A special locking system is being used to grip the ribs of the panel on top. GFRG Walls doesn’t require any plastering.
How are GFRG Panels made?
The GFRG panels are cast in three stages on a special table by pouring a paste of calcined gypsum and other chemical additives. Glass fibers are spread evenly onto the mix by means of a screening and rolling process.
Then, special aluminum plugs are inserted on top of the finished first layer with 20mm gaps in between to form the hollow cavities in the panel. Now the second pouring of the mix is done along with cutting glass fibers with tamping to form the ribs of the hollow panel.
In the third stage of the process, the first stage is repeated to complete the top layer of the panel after setting which takes 25 minutes the plugs are withdrawn and the casting table is rotated and in its vertical position, the panel is taken out for drying by means of a special forklift.
The drying of the panels is done in a dryer chamber in which hot air is circulated to dry the panel evenly for 19 minutes after drying the panels are cut using a computer-aided and automated process tailor-made to the specified requirements.
For any building project, it is important that all this information is carefully planned in advance and furnished at the plant site by means of cutting drawings to be furnished by the architect or engineer.
How the Construction with GFRG Panels takes place?
GFRG wall panels are erected with the help of a crane. A special locking system is used to grip the ribs of the panel on top enabling easy lifting without any damage to the panel.
The panels are hoisted vertically and positioned in place over the starter bars jutting out from the plinth beam then appropriate reinforcement bars are inserted as per the design into the cavities.
In a two-storey building which was made at IIT Madras, every third cavity is filled with concrete and reinforced with 10mm bar. Other cavities are filled with an inert material such as dust mixed with 5% cement and water.
The vertical steel bars are tied to the starter bars and the verticality of the panel is ensured by using the plumb bob.
Grooves are cut into the edges of the panel to facilitate integral bonding with adjoining panels it is mandatory that all joints between connecting panels are filled with concrete and suitably reinforced with steel.
After the ground floor wall panel erection is completed the door and window frames are then fixed in position at their respective locations.
What are the GFRG Panels Advantages?
Use of a green alternative technology making use of industrial waste gypsum and glass fibers in the hollow panels called GFRG panels.
This building which does not need any plastering uses much less cement, sand, steel, and water than conventional buildings so for the same carpet area the built-up area and the building footprint is much less than conventional buildings.
Upto 8 storeys and can be designed using this load-bearing system without the need for any beams and columns. The construction is rapid, cost-effective and green providing affordable housing in India.
This technology can result in enormous savings in almost all materials which are considered today to be environmentally sensitive such as water, sand, bricks, and steel.
At the same time it uses a benign material which is a waste product of fertilizer manufacture and is available in plenty.
What is the GFRG Construction Cost?
Since the GFRG Panels are made of powder which is a residual of many fertilizer industries and is available at very low cost in the market. It is very easier to assemble it. It does not require curing time.
Some of the very important points regarding the cost are:-
- Low-cost alternative for Concrete and Bricks for construction.
- Use of GFRG reduces the duration of construction and hence saves cost.
Hence, you could save up to 50% on the overall cost of construction with GFRG construction technology.
Important Note Regarding GFRG Building System
The original rapid wall technology developed in Australia aimed at the use of these panels only vertical walls subject primarily to gravity loads.
IIT Madras extended the use of the GFRG panels also as the floor slabs and staircases enabling the use of GFRG panels for the entire building system and minimizing the use of reinforced concrete.
So they have been very carefully understanding the building systems behavior when it is subjected to lateral loads due to a sway.
One of the PhD student in IIT Madras has done those tests and they arrived at a particular design procedure which is normal and which is slightly different from what we conventionally do for reinforced concrete shear walls.
Here you have GFRG hollow things and you fill the concrete and when you filled with concrete you may not get good bond between the concrete and the wall surface that we cover.
But beauty is as long as you put them together you connect them and you make them into a unit. Actually, lack of bond also has advantages because it will be loss of energy.
Though the energy can be dissipated through praying of the surfaces so and it also a little more flexible so all those things also would help you in the earthquake performance of the GFRG building system.
Based on extensive research carried out at IIT Madras, a structural design manual has was prepared and published by the building materials technology Promotion Council BMTPC Government of India.
Reasons why Indians are not using GFRG Panels?
i) Proper Structural Designing of the Structure is required.
ii) Lack of knowledge of the engineers and contractors in India.
iii) The construction of buildings using GFRG Panels requires specialists who work closely coordinated especially building services also and you have to put the building services in time the plumbing and the electrification so if the company does this in that organized manner then that would be the ideal team.
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