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Queensland researcher finds replacement for sand in construction industry

A University of Queensland researcher is exploring the use of crushed waste glass as an alternative to sand for ground improvement during construction.

PhD candidate and geotechnical engineering student Danish Kazmi has developed a sustainable solution that could reduce the use of sand in the construction industry.

He is researching the possibilities of using glass as a valuable tool during construction to provide a sustainable and cost-effective solution.

“Both sand and waste glass have a similar chemical composition, so we expect them to behave similarly when optimally used in geotechnical construction,” Kazmi said.

“My research looks at the performance of waste glass within ground columns as an environmentally friendly alternative to sand columns that are commonly used at the moment.

“These waste glass columns are designed to strengthen the earth below a building and improve its load-bearing characteristics,” he explained.

It is estimated that nearly one million tonnes of waste glass is stockpiled annually in Australia.

Kazmi found using waste glass in this way not only preserved precious sand resources and promoted closed-loop recycling, but it could also reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry by cutting down on the amount of sand that needed to be quarried.

“I have always been passionate about helping to create circular economies,” he said.

Deakin University has also explored the use of sand in construction.

Deakin researchers found a purpose for ground recycled or waste glass instead of sand when making polymer concrete – a material often used in industrial flooring.

Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri, senior engineering lecturer at Deakin, said the addition of glass resulted in a stronger product that was less costly to produce.

“This research provides the evidence the construction industry needs to see the potential of glass as a substitute for sand when making polymer concrete and, potentially concrete,” Al-Ameri said.