Researchers tap polymer, ash to advance recycled glass aggregate feasibility

Sources: University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, B.C.; CP staff

University of British Columbia researchers have identified a combination of water-based rubber polymer, fly ash and glass powder to calm alkali-silica reactions traditionally limiting the potential of glass-derived aggregate in concrete.

“Every year, millions of tons of glass bypass recycling centers and end up in North American landfills,” says Associate Professor of Engineering Shahria Alam. “Like many engineers, we are interested in making smarter building materials that can give the construction industry the resources they need without necessarily having to take new resources out of the ground.”

“By partially replacing cement with polymer, fly ash and glass powder, we were able to produce concrete that was more than 60 percent stronger than what was previously believed possible,” adds co-researcher Anant Parghi. “Though further testing is needed to assess long-term stability, it now looks like we can replace up to 25 percent of [aggregate materials] with glass.”

Glass used in their study was sourced from a Kelowna landfill. A local company, Polyrap Engineered Concrete Solutions, donated other mix additives. The Alam, Parghi study on recycled glass aggregate was recently published in the journal, Construction and Building Materials.