Wonderful Engineering

Old Glass Can Be Grounded And Used As Aggregate In Concrete To Make It Stronger

Glass is considered to be eco-friendly relatively because it is recyclable. However, the fact of the matter is that most of the glass doesn’t get recycled. This is especially true for small pieces of glass that are considered too tricky to sort. However, scientists have come up with a way that could help utilize the glass waste by using it for creating concrete that is cheaper and stronger.

Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri led the research at Australia’s Deakin University. The research began with different fragments of non-recyclable glass that were then grounded into a coarse powder. This powder was then used as an aggregate in polymer concrete instead of sand. For those of you who are not aware, polymer concrete makes use of polymer resin instead of cement as a binding matrix and is generally utilized for tasks such as waterproof flooring.

Upon testing, it was learned that the glass-based polymer concrete was much stronger than the conventional sand-based counterpart. Furthermore, sand needs to be mined, washed and then graded. Whereas, using the grounded glass allows for lower cost of production for concrete. Furthermore, despite the shortage of sand; there are heaps and heaps of old glass that are simply lying around unprocessed.

Al-Ameri said, ‘This research provides the evidence the construction industry needs to see the potential of glass as a substitute for sand when making polymer concrete and, potentially concrete. Worldwide, the construction industry represents six per cent of global GDP, according to the World Economic Forum. Concrete is a major construction material, and sand is one of its primary components, so finding an alternative to sand makes good economic sense.’

Deakin is, however, not the first Australian university that has explored the use of recycled glass in concrete. In fact, earlier this year, a team of scientists from the University of Queensland also came up with means of transforming glass waste into liquid silicate that could be used as a concrete sealant.