Lightweight alkali-activated materials and ordinary Portland cement composites using recycled polyvinyl chloride and waste glass aggregates to fully replace natural sand

Abstract: Polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) and glass waste have proven to be significant environmental concerns considering their restricted reuse and complicated recycling procedures. Glass and PVC waste materials form a substantial portion of total solid wastes that negatively influence the environment. This study aims to fully replace natural sand with recycled PVC and waste glass aggregates in alkali-activated materials (AAMs). A comprehensive testing programme was employed to investigate the effect of 100 % aggregate replacement on the composites’ mechanical performance, water absorption, impact resistance, thermal conductivity, resistance to harsh environments, and microstructural changes. Results revealed that AAMs containing recycled PVC and glass aggregates outperformed their ordinary Portland cement (OPC)-based composite counterparts in terms of mechanical properties, energy absorption, thermal conductivity, and carbon footprint estimation. Although mixtures containing recycled aggregates cannot be deemed for load-bearing applications, these composites exhibited a promising capacity to be used in insulating applications. AAMs containing 100 vol-% PVC aggregates with flexural and compressive strengths of 9 and 11 MPa, respectively, registered the highest energy absorption of about 6 J, three times higher than the AAM control sample, and the lowest thermal conductivity of about 0.5 W/mK, with about 80 % reduction of thermal conductivity compared to the AAM control sample. With the full replacement of PVC and glass aggregates, the most significant decrease in the carbon footprint is achieved for AAM (−352.25 kg CO2-eq) and OPC (−353.94 kg CO2-eq), respectively.

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