From waste glass to stronger concrete

TGL News

Researchers at Deakin University have found substituting ground glass for sand in the creation of polymer concrete may result in a stronger construction material that is also cheaper to produce.

Good news, as the demand for concrete rises globally and sand supplies are being depleted. This ability to turn waste or recycled glass into a sturdy and waterproof material “makes good economic sense,” says Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri, senior engineering lecturer.

“We have found that substituting sand with ground recycled glass makes the polymer concrete stronger and is a sustainable use of one of the major types of recyclables in the domestic waste stream,” Dr Al-Ameri explained.

“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.”

It works by grinding down end of life glass that would otherwise be unsuitable to recycle into new glass. The reduced glass is then substituted for sand in polymer concrete to create a high strength, water-resistant material “suited to industrial flooring and infrastructure drainage, particularly in areas subject to heavy traffic such as service stations, forklift operating areas and airports”.

According to industry partner and Orca Civil products director Alan Travers, the waste glass used in this project was otherwise “unsuitable for recycling back into glass,” while the quantity stockpiling was “becoming a community problem.”

“The concept has even more appeal to us because of predicted shortages of natural, mined sands in the medium term,” Mr Travers said.

Mr Travers hopes the research partnership will have further commercial application in future, a goal Dr Al-Ameri has outlined among a number of others on Deakin’s end, including looking to optimise substitution rates, assess durability and investigate aggregate substitutes.