Although glass is known for being fully recyclable, the US Environmental Protection Agency states that only about one third of post-consumer glass actually gets recycled. A new glass-based building cladding material could help boost that number.
Unlike siding, which is applied directly to the exterior surface of a building, cladding is applied in such a way that there’s a narrow air gap between it and the wall. Among other things, cladding helps buildings retain heat, resist rainwater, block ambient noise, and often just generally look nicer.
The new cladding, which was developed by a team at Australia’s RMIT University, is made up of 83% ground glass which would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Its other ingredients include polymer binders and fire-retardant additives.
Those binders are important, as they make the cladding much tougher than previously developed all-glass cladding materials, which have tended to be brittle. The fire retardants are also obviously quite important, especially given the fact that if cladding does catch fire, the gap between itself and the building acts like a chimney, making the fire worse.
As an added bonus, the recycled-glass cladding is claimed to be inexpensive, water-resistant, and to meet structural requirements. It is now being commercialized via a partnership with materials technology company Livefield.
“By using high amounts of recycled glass in building claddings, while ensuring they meet fire safety and other standards, we are helping to find a solution to the very real waste challenge,” said the lead scientist, RMIT’s Assoc. Prof. Dilan Robert. “Reuse of glass that would otherwise go to landfill will bring environmental, economic and social benefits.”
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Construction and Building Materials.
Source: RMIT University
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