Concrete-Reinforced Plastic That’s 20% More Stronger Than Conventional Concrete!

Can you imagine concrete structures that have plastics in it? Well, in upcoming years it could be so. Sidewalks, street barriers, buildings, bridges could be made using plastic concrete! MIT undergrads have found that plastic flakes of discarded plastic bottles, when exposed to small, harmless doses of gamma radiation and pulverized to a fine powder and when mixed with cement paste produces plastic concrete. This type of concrete will be 20% stronger than conventional concrete.

Mr. Micheal Short, an assistant professor of MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering says, “Concrete produces 4.5% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. If irradiated plastic is used in this concrete, it would help reduce the cement industry’s carbon emission to a considerable extent.”

He further said,” There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year. Our technology takes out plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in the concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions. This has the potential to pull plastic landfill waste out of the landfill and into buildings, where it could actually help to make them stronger.”

The students learned that most others had tried to put plastic into cement mixtures. But this weakened the concrete. Further investigations revealed that exposing plastic to gamma radiation changed the material’s crystalline structure in a way that it actually made the structure more strong, stiffer and tougher.

The samples that researchers created were mixed with water and subjected to compression tests. When the strength of each sample was measured and compared with regular, non-irradiated plastic, the team found that irradiated plastic was much stronger.

The team intends to try out different doses of gamma radiation with different types of plastics to determine their effects on concrete.

Kunal Kupwade-Patil, a research scientist in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering said, “The method has the potential to achieve sustainable solutions with improved performance for both structural and nonstructural applications.”