Buildings, roads, and parking structures could soon be constructed using concrete that’s made of discarded glass.
Researchers from the Deakin University School of Engineering in Australia have found a way to take glass waste and grind it up into fine particles that can be substituted for sand in concrete mixtures.
The resulting polymer concrete would help keep glass waste out of landfills and pave the way for more eco-friendly and sustainable materials in the construction industry.
Polymer concrete uses resins as an alternative to sandy lime-type cement to bind the mixture together.
Unlike traditional sand-based concretes, polymer concrete is stronger, water-resistant, and ideal for industrial flooring in areas like airport tarmacs and hangers or forklift operation areas.
Concrete made from glass is both eco-friendly and economically sound.
“Worldwide, the construction industry represents six per cent of global GDP, according to the World Economic Forum,” said Dr. Al-Ameri, a lecturer at Deakin University. “Concrete is a major construction material, and sand is one of its primary components, so finding an alternative to sand makes good economic sense.”
Sand mining for concrete uses up large amounts of industrial water reserves and dredging lakes for sand can cause water levels to drop and damage aquatic habitats.
“Mined sand requires washing and grading before it is added to aggregate, cement and water to make concrete,” said Al-Ameri. “Any changes that reduce the cost of production will lead to significant gains across the industry, potentially on a global scale.”
The new concrete was developed and tested by Dikshit Modgil, an engineering student in collaboration with the company Orca Civil Products.
“The specific type of waste glass used in this project was unsuitable for recycling back into glass and the amount that is stockpiling is becoming a community problem,” said Alan Travers, the Director of Orca Civil Products. “The concept has even more appeal to us because of predicted shortages of natural, mined sands in the medium term.”
Having a stronger and sustainable alternative to traditional concrete is promising, and Orca Civil Products plans to continue researching and assessing the commercial potential for using recycled glass.
Image Credit: SWNS