According to a study published in the Journal of Waste Management, MIT students found a way to produce concrete 20 percent sturdier than regular concrete.
The group of student engineers discovered that when plastic from regular soda bottles was exposed to gamma radiation, it created a powerful substance which, when crushed, could be added to regular concrete to give it super strength.
MIT’s sweeping discovery could significantly reduce the manufacturing concrete industry’s carbon footprint, as the campus’s news outlet reported that an estimated 4.5 percent of the planet’s carbon emissions are generated from concrete production alone.
The discovery could also help to clean up the environment. According to Michael Short, assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, a stronger concrete will prevent an overflow of water and soda bottles dumped in landfills.
“There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year. Our technology takes plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions,” Short said.
The team at MIT intends to take their study a step further by experimenting with different types of plastic and doses of radiation to test for other effects. They have established, thus far, that concrete mixed with just 1.5 percent of irradiated plastic significantly impacts strength, which is enough to positively impact our environmental behavior on a planetary level.
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