UBC professor tests to determine waste types that can be mixed into cement
Shahria Alam sees a much more valuable use for industrial waste than taking up space in a landfill.
So, the assistant professor with the School of Engineering at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus worked with undergraduate research assistant Emma Slater and graduate students Muntasir Billah and Rafiqul Haque to find ways to utilize various types of waste in producing new-generation concrete.
“In the B.C. region, there are more than 40 composite manufacturing companies and they produce a lot of waste,” says Alam, noting in the B.C. Interior alone there are up to 1,000 metric tonnes of composite scrap produced every year that has the potential to be reused in construction projects.
Tighter regulations mean much of the current waste cannot simply be dumped in the local landfill, but must be hauled to specialty facilities, making it more expensive to get rid of, plus there is an increased environmental footprint because of the additional emissions created by the trucks needed to haul the material.
During construction and demolition projects, large volumes of waste are generated with concrete being the largest component at about 52 per cent by weight. Using crushed, recycled concrete for aggregate material in producing new concrete is nothing new, but Alam and his students are broadening the scope by looking at other materials such as crushed glass and even discarded paint.
“The goal is to keep as much out of the landfill as possible,” he says. “We are mixing all sorts of waste and making it a totally green concrete. There are no guidelines for producing concrete with a combination of various wastes and concrete wastes. This project will focus on formulating comprehensive guidelines to assist the concrete industry to produce ready mix green concrete.”
Alam is blending the recycled aggregate and traditional material with encouraging outcomes.
“We are getting very good results,” he says. “We have tested the fresh and hardened concrete properties, but there is little research on using a combination of paint and other industrial wastes. Now we have to test for the long term.”
Alam is testing this new-generation concrete made with various waste materials under different environmental exposures to determine its long-term performance.
The research is supported by OK Builders Supplies Ltd. and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada which provided a $25,000 grant. The City of Kelowna facilitated the access to the Glenmore landfill and collect recycled concrete aggregates. FRP scraps were donated by FormaShape-Whitewater Composites, Kelowna. Okanagan Testing Laboratories Ltd, Kelowna provided experimental facilities to conduct some testing of materials.
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