Enhancement of Straw Bale Performance Using Gum Arabic

Manette Njike1, *, Walter O. Oyawa2, Silvester O. Abuodha3
1 Department of Civil Engineering, Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences Technology and Innovation, Juja, Kenya
2 Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Juja, Kenya
3 Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

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© 2021 Njike et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Department of Civil Engineering, Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences Technology and Innovation, Juja, Kenya; Tel.: +254 705681301; E-mail:



The negative impacts of the construction industry are compelling arguments for embracing technology that contributes to carbon footprint reduction and resources conservation. Toward the achievement of objective 9 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the development of new building’s materials like straw bale has advanced in the construction industry. As demonstrated in the literature, straw bale is an eco-friendly material that presents many advantages, like its contribution towards a circular economy. However, it has low compressive strength and displays high displacement under compression load. So far, no attempt has been made in order to enhance the strength of straw bales.


This study aimed to develop alternative material to straw bale using chopped straw stems mixed with a binder (gum Arabic) and determine its stress-strain characteristic.


The manufacturing process of the new material involved the use of chopped straw and gum Arabic to form straw blocks.


Results obtained show that the compressive strength of straw block (1.25MPa) is greater than the strength of straw bale (0.02MPa). Also, the average displacement recorded during compression load on straw blocks (29mm) was 2.8 times smaller than the displacement in straw bale (80mm). In terms of shape and size, straw blocks match with conventional materials like cement or compressed block. This will facilitate their use in construction compared to straw bales that require skilled laborers for pre-compression and plastering.


The use of gum arabic helps in holding straw stems together and forms a compact material with improved strength compared to straw bale. Performance improvement of the characteristics of load-bearing straw bale walls can be addressed by using straw blocks.

Keywords: Straw bale, Straw block, Compressive strength, Displacement, Gum arabic, Chopped straw.