We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Earth stabilisation via carbonate precipitation by plant-derived urease for building applications

Cuccurullo, A. and Gallipoli, D. and Bruno, A.W. and Augarde, C. and Hughes, P. and La Borderie, C. (2022) 'Earth stabilisation via carbonate precipitation by plant-derived urease for building applications.', Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment, 30 . p. 100230.


Raw (unfired) earth represents a sustainable and efficient alternative to traditional construction materials but its dissemination into building practice has been hindered by a relatively high vulnerability to water erosion. Enzyme induced carbonate precipitation (EICP) can improve the durability of earth materials without using traditional chemical binders such as cement and lime. EICP utilises the urease enzyme to catalyse the hydrolysis of urea, which produces carbonate ions that react with the calcium ions dissolved in the pore water, thus resulting in the precipitation of calcium carbonate. The calcium carbonate fills the soil voids and binds particles together, which reduces water permeability and increases material strength. The urease enzyme is a hexameric protein that is found in the tissues of many common plants. This work proposes a low-cost and simple stabilisation technology that makes use of crude urease enzyme extracted from soybeans. This technology is applied to the stabilisation of compacted earth, whose properties are then assessed via unconfined compression, moisture buffering and durability tests. The findings suggest a noticeable improvement of material strength and durability, though further investigation is necessary to increase the competitiveness of EICP stabilisation against standard techniques using cement and lime.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2022. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:11 December 2020
Date deposited:04 November 2022
Date of first online publication:14 December 2020
Date first made open access:04 November 2022

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar