Stabilized Soil System (S3)

Glass jars of stabilized soil with blocks of stabilized soil in the background.

An opportunity to get your hands dirty exploring a system of block-making common within the African continent.

Project description

The stabilized soil system (S3) will explore the design, prototyping, and testing of stabilized soil blocks using an Aurum Press 3000 - a manually operated, high compaction block press. Stabilized Soil Blocks (SSB) are building blocks made from ordinary clay soils mixed with a small quantity of Portland cement, and then highly compacted in a block press resulting in a very solid, dense, and low cost building system. Stabilization is the treatment given to the soil to improve its strength and its vulnerability to water. The student team will iteratively work through hands-on prototyping and destructive testing to arrive at the recipe that includes the correct amount of stabilizer, water, compaction force, and cure time.

When appropriately designed, SSB’s are an environmentally appropriate solution that utilizes material directly from the earth. This technology is ideal for remote regions where mass-produced building material manufacture and distribution is not readily available. In addition, they are 50% more economically when compared to other conventional walling systems, while their technical performance is the same. 

Project outcome

A full-scale demonstration prototype of between 90-110 Stabilized Soil Blocks is to be constructed in the Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART) Fabrication Factory, part of the SMART Community of Excellence, in 56 Farber Hall. All technical data and testing results will be archived in a digital pamphlet that will be shared with our NGO partner in Tanzania.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Less than a semester; 1-2 months
Start time Fall 2021
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
Level of collaboration Large group collaboration (4+ students)
Benefits Research experience, global collaboration, possible stipend
Who is eligible All undergraduate students 

Core partners

Project mentor

Christopher Romano

Assistant Professor


50 Parker Hall

Phone: (716) 829-5929


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
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Preparation activities

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