New rubber polymer could create sustainable construction materialsSiobhan Treacy | June 15, 2020
Australian scientists created a new way to produce sustainable bricks and construction materials from recycled PVC, waste plant fibers or sand using a new kind of rubber polymer.
The new rubber polymer is made from sulfur and canola oil. It can be compressed and heated with fillers to create construction materials. This could be used to produce materials that replace non-recyclable construction materials.
The polymer can be used as tubing, rubber coatings and bumpers. If compressed, heated and mixed with other fillers it can create new composites like sustainable building blocks, concrete replacements or insulation.
The polymer can be repeatedly ground up and recycled. The rubber particles can be used to purify water and be repurposed into rubber mats or tubing.
Cement is a finite resource with heavy pollution behind its production. Cement production contributes to more than eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and the construction industry worldwide accounts for about 18 percent.
Currently, there are very few methods to recycle PVC or carbon fiber. In addition to creating the new polymer, the team also created a new method to recycle these materials. The method is called reactive compression molding. This applies to rubber material that can be compressed and stretched but doesn’t melt. The chemical structure of the sulfur backbone of novel rubber allows for multiple pieces of rubber to bond together.
With the new material and recycling method, the construction sector can take a big step forward in producing recyclable construction materials. This is an important development in working towards a circular economy.
The researchers published a paper in ChemEurJ.