Recycling old glass into better concrete

Researchers at Deakin University’s School of Engineering in Australia found that ground recycled or waste glass can be used instead of sand when making polymer concrete, resulting in a stronger, cheaper product.

Concrete is one of the most used construction material, and sand is one of its primary components. Once mined, the sand needs to be wasted and graded before it can be mixed with aggregate, cement and water to make concrete.

Polymer concrete is a type of concrete that uses polymers, typically resins, to replace lime cements as a binder. This produces a high-strength, water-resistant material suitable for industrial flooring and infrastructure drainage.

By substituting ground up recycled glass, the polymer concrete becomes stronger, the researchers found. The type of glass they used is unsuitable to be recycled back into glass, and the amount that is stockpiling is becoming a community problem. By adding it to concrete, this problem can be solved. In addition, the because of predicted shortages in natural mined sands, using recycled glass is a promising alternative.

The next step in the research will be to look at alternatives for the aggregate in polymer concrete, optimising the substitution rate, assessing durability, and the commercialisation of the new concrete.

Photo: Deakin University