Concrete is one of the most used construction materials, made up of water, cement and aggregate (sand and rock). Sand is used to add volume to the material and fill in the spaces between the course stone aggregate. When mixed with cement, the mixture hardens and coats the individual pieces of gravel, giving the material a resilience and strength.
Polymer concrete is a high strength, water-resistant type of concrete that uses polymers (usually resins) to replace lime cement as a binding material. Researching how to utilise recycled materials in concrete, the team from Deakin have discovered that replacing the sand in polymer concrete with ground recycled glass results in a cheaper and stronger product that can be used for industrial flooring or infrastructure drainage.
The benefit of this material is that not only does it utilise recycled waste glass, it also reduces sand usage. It is estimated that 25 million tons of sand and gravel are used every year, which has resulted in huge shortages in naturally mined sand. Using recycled glass instead of sand solves this issue, and the researchers are currently looking at aggregate alternatives in polymer concrete and how to commercialise the material.
To view more about this research, visit the university’s website.