Paul Rodriguez, of Harrison, a graduating senior at NJIT, received honorable mention at the NJIT Dana Knox Student Research Showcase on April 14, 2010, for his research project to develop a composite material made entirely from recycled glass and plastics as a replacement for concrete masonry blocks. The eco-friendly research has the capabilities of reducing tons of recyclable waste sent yearly to landfills and incinerators. If successful, this research may even be extended to replace concrete in various other low strength applications.
Rodriguez, a mechanical engineering major, is a McNair Scholar.
Plastic and glass in municipal solid waste are recycled and used to manufacture various products. Though plastics and glass are recycled, substantial amounts are still sent to solid waste landfills and incinerators due to the high cost of processing recycled material and their insufficient marketable use. Furthermore, recycled glass that has not been color sorted has limited value and is used occasionally as aggregate replacement material. To increase the recycling potential of mixed glass, this research proposed to manufacture segmental retaining wall blocks, made from recycled unsorted mixed glass bonded with recycled heated plastic.
To demonstrate the proof of concept, different percentages of mixed glass were mixed with heated plastic to produce a new material that could be used as blocks. The research showed that the durability of blocks made of optimum glass plastic mixture may compare well with that for current bricks in commercial use. The life cycle cost analysis suggested that the cost of manufacturing glass plastic blocks is much cheaper. Hence the outcome of this study is the development of a viable, superior and inexpensive block made entirely from recycled materials.