Shahria Alam sees a much more valuable use for industrial waste than taking up space in a landfill. The assistant professor of engineering and his team at UBC Okanagan are finding ways to use various types of waste for producing new-generation concrete.
“In the BC region, there are more than 40 composite manufacturing companies,” says Alam, noting that in the BC Interior alone up to 1,000 metric tonnes of composite scrap are produced every year that could potentially 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. This makes waste material expensive to get rid of and increases its environmental footprint because of the additional emissions created by the trucks required to haul it.
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.
Alam is blending the recycled aggregate and traditional material with encouraging outcomes. “We are mixing all sorts of waste and making it a totally green concrete…. This project will focus on formulating comprehensive guidelines to assist the concrete industry to produce ready mix green concrete.”
Alam is testing various formulas of this new-generation concrete under different environmental exposures to determine its long-term performance. “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,” says Alam.
Alam’s tem members are undergraduate research assistant Emma Slater and graduate students Muntasir Billah and Rafiqul Haque. The research is supported by OK Builders Supplies Ltd. and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council 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.