Building bricks from waste materials

Construction with polymer blocks might be more environmentally friendly.

Organic chemists at Flinders University are working on more sustainable alternatives, with an emphasis on building materials generated from waste products, because firing bricks and producing mortar and cement are relatively expensive processes.

Another step toward the circular economy has been made by researchers from the Flinders Chalker Lab, who have created lightweight but strong polymer building blocks that can be joined together chemically without the need of adhesives.

Their most recent research examined several ways to strengthen these materials in construction while also testing their strength.

According to Justin Chalker, a Matthew Flinders Professor of Chemistry, the development of sustainable construction materials is becoming more and more necessary as the manufacturing of cement, iron, and steel is responsible for more than 15% of annual worldwide CO2 emissions.

In this study, a novel form of brick made from used cooking oil and combined with sulfur and dicyclopentadiene was put to the test (DCPD). Sulfur and DCPD are byproducts of the refining of petroleum.

"When a very little amount of amine catalyst is used, the bricks bind without mortar.

"All of the raw materials are readily available and fall under the category of industrial waste.

According to the project's director, Professor Chalker, "this research is a component of a bigger endeavor to move toward a sustainable built environment."

Clean Earth Technologies is working with the Chalker Lab's new polymer research team at Flinders University's College of Science and Engineering to advance development. expansion and potential commercialization

The most recent study, which was featured on the journal Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics' cover of a special issue on sustainability, expanded the original investigation to test the new bricks' mechanical qualities and investigate ways to reinforce them during construction, including using carbon fiber fillers.

Dr. Maximilian Mann, a research associate at Chalker Lab, claims that the polymer bricks' sulfur-sulfur bond allows them to be linked together without mortar, unlike conventional building methods, in addition to recycling waste resources into value-added construction materials.

According to Dr. Mann, the bonding in this innovative catalytic process is quite strong, providing a sustainable building material with its own mortar that might perhaps speed up construction.

The study, according to its first author Paris Pauling, is a superb illustration of recent advances in the study of sustainable materials.

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