Researchers from the School of Building at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have demonstrated that mineral wool from construction and demolition waste (CDW) could potentially be used as an alternative to the reinforced fibers commonly used in building materials.

In collaboration with the Bialystok University of Technology in Poland, the research team determined that by using mineral wool waste recovered from insulating materials following construction demolition and adding it to cement mortar in place of sand, the result was cement mortar with improved flexural strength.

Mercedes del Río, an expert involved in the project, said "It has been scientifically proved the mortars incorporating recycled mineral wool wastes are lighter so they could improve their insulating properties."

Similarly, the addition of mineral wool fibers — which have experienced an uptick in usage that corresponds to changes in thermal and acoustic requirements — in cement mortar in place of sand reduces the environmental impact of the construction industry, as CDW often ends up in the landfill because it is difficult to recycle. By recovering mineral wool waste from CDW and using it as a raw material substitute, demand for sand as an aggregate is substantially reduced and some CDW is kept from the landfills.

Carolina Piña, the main researcher of this study, explained "it is possible to replace up to 50 percent of the volume of the sand using these sustainable mortars, which means a large amount of raw material savings and high-volume recycling of mineral wool."

The research appears in the journal Construction and Building Materials.

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