How waste materials can be used to reinforce concrete in the construction industry

How waste materials can be used to reinforce concrete in the construction industry

Modern technology and lifestyle changes have led to a significant increase in the quantity and types of waste. Year-on-year waste problems accumulate and this is seen all over the world. Waste is being thrown into landfills, quarries, rivers or oceans and is a major environmental problem. PET’s are the most toxic waste type of waste because they pollute the environment. 

PET’s are found everywhere, at the top of the mountain, in the forest, on the watercourses, in recreational areas or in the outskirts of the neighborhoods. Collecting and recycling this type of waste has become a priority for environmental policy makers. 

Plastic, mostly PET containers, occupies about 12% of the volume of landfills, which is why the incineration of waste has become increasingly attractive for energy recovery, but with negative effects on the atmosphere due to the resulting combustion gasses.

Moreover, selective plastic collection discourages waste incineration, reducing the profitability of incineration and directly benefits air quality. Finding new ways to recycle PET remains a huge challenge and the recovery of waste is difficult because of its variety, as well as its unknown properties over time. 

The construction industry has been an area of interest for waste recycling and producing waste material for usage in the construction industry is gaining momentum. The new generation of building materials are developing rapidly. It is recommended for environmental reasons to use waste extensively although some waste may be too risky to utilise. 

How PET can be used in construction

Concrete dispersed with fibres is defined as the material obtained by mixing cement, aggregates,fibres, additives, mineral additions and water, in predetermined proportions, whose properties develop by hydrating and strengthening cement and the interaction between fibres and matrix. Dispersed reinforced concrete results from the mass incorporation of concrete into a variable amount of discontinuous fibres.

Moreover, most fibre–dispersed reinforced concrete applications are based on the principle of improving the properties and mechanical resistance characteristics of the material. The role of fibre reinforcement of simple or classically reinforced concrete is to reduce not only to this principle of improving the resistances, but to control the cracking process. That improves the resistance, energy absorption properties and impact resistance, shock, temperature variations, temperature gradient and fire resistance.

The advantage of arming the concrete with PET fibres lies in their ability to disperse throughout the mass of the mixture. The reinforcement is done by simply mixing the fibres in concrete. In this way the fibres achieve a three dimensional reinforcement unlike the traditional welded steel nets that remain at half of the concrete mass. PET reinforcement fibres can be used together with the steel nets or represent an alternative to them. It does not require changes in the concrete recipe or handling mode.

Benefits of incorporating waste in concrete? 

The advantages of incorporating waste plastic, rubber and glass in concrete are three fold: 

  1. It can be incorporated as a natural aggregate replacement.
  2. Reduces the amount of natural aggregates consumed.
  3. Reduces ecological damage by decreasing the burden waste places on the environment.
  4. Increased construction durability due to improvement in concrete properties: better bending resistance (increase of more than 25%)  Higher impact resistance and compression, better abrasion and wear resistance. Increased shear resistance reducing the appearance of contraction cracks increasing long–term sustainability.
  5. Ease of commissioning can be put into operation by direct casting or by pumping, depending on consistency and access to works.
  6. Cost reduction by establishing an optimal concrete recipe in terms of the quantity of fibre required/m3, which must be customized for each work based on a calculation per load. The reduction of the need for further repair such as that generated by the consequences of incorrect positioning of the reinforcement net.

Furthermore, we do note that fibre–dispersed reinforced concrete cannot completely replace ordinary reinforced concrete. It has been found that fibres, of whatever nature, improve the properties of simple concrete. There are areas of use in which fibre–reinforced concrete can be used alternately or in addition to the classic reinforced concrete offering constructive and economic advantages. 

To learn more about how your business can use waste in the construction industry and meet its sustainability goals:

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