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Quality building materials from polymer waste

Technology will be developed for the production of concrete building materials using polymer waste and inert fillers. In composite concrete a melted polymer will be used as a binding substance instead of cement and will be implemented in waste recycling companies.

During the project, technology will be developed for the environmental-friendly and cost-effective production of quality building materials from polymer waste. The technology is patented in LATVIA. At the moment, there is experimental equipment where the technology is tested. Nevertheless, there are a lot of research and technological problems to be solved before complete industrialisation of the method. The technology developed will be implemented in waste recycling companies. In Europe and throughout the world, the amount of industrial and household polymer waste is gradually increasing. The polymer waste is partly recycled for production of new plastic products, but there are quite large amounts of waste which are not recycled for different reasons, e.g. the waste is too dirty, it contains unacceptable admixtures, it is a mixture of various types of polymers, or simply - it is not economically feasible. Experts estimate that at lest 25% of polymer waste is not suitable for recycling. In practice this part of polymer waste is put in waste deposit areas. A much more environmentally friendly approach would be to produce useful products from this worthless fraction of polymer waste. The goal of the project is to develop industrial, economically profitable technology for using the non-recyclable fraction of polymer waste. There will be two main benefits from the project - (1) solving the problem of using otherwise worthless parts of polymer waste and (2) bringing new products into the market - quality building materials. It is worthwhile noting that the introduction of the technology will provide additional profit for waste recycling companies. The method is based on the use of polymer concrete for the production of concrete products. In polymer concrete, a melted polymer is used as a binding substance instead of cement. As the inert filler, different materials can be used - sand, gravel, ground glass, industrial waste, etc. Principally any kind of thermoplastic polymer can be used, but practically, polyethylenterftalate (PET) or polyethylene are preferred. Chlorine-containing polymers are not acceptable because of the emission of explosion-hazardous and toxic gases. One of the advantages of the technology is simplicity in preparing raw materials - no necessity for sorting, washing, shredding, drying or granulation of the polymer waste or scrap. It is economically profitable to process even relatively small amounts of polymer waste. A technological process for the production of products from polymer concrete is periodically continuous. The polymer waste is mixed with inert fillers and heated to melt the polymer. The hot mass is then homogenised and filled in press-forms where the final product is formed and cooled. Although in principle the process looks rather simple, practice shows that there are many problems: selection of polymer-filler proportions, automation of components supply and mixing, selection and regulation of process temperature, minimisation of energy consumption, homogenisation of the melted polymer-filler mass, treatment of emission gases, extrusion or moulding, cooling, automation of press-form emptying and product storage. The research problems of the project relate to property studies of polymer concrete - physical, mechanical, ageing. One important fact will be the development and application of modelling methods for calculating the physical and mechanical properties of final products depending on the components used (proportions of different types of polymers and inert filler) and technology parameters (temperature, pressure, etc.). The polymer concrete building materials have high physical, mechanical and usage properties: good tearing resistance; excellent below-zero temperature resistance; the products are lighter than analogues made from traditional concrete; fine water resistance; good mechanical properties; attractive looking and possibility to produce coloured products. A separate problem will be the selection of products for production. At the moment only a few building materials are being tried - pavement coverage plates, kerbstones and runs. Taking into account the advanced properties of polymer concrete products, it maybe more reasonable is to produce other goods with higher added value. For this a special market study would be required. During the project, a consortium of project partners will be formed to supplement one another's skills and to jointly use the project results, form a network of interests and market the technology. Keywords: polymer waste, building materials, recycling.
Acronym: 
SANDPLAST
Project ID: 
3 446
Start date: 
01-01-2005
Project Duration: 
33months
Project costs: 
450 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Recycling, Recovery
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.