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Structural cast glass components manufactured from waste glass: Diverting everyday discarded glass from the landfill to the building industry

T. Bristogiannia, F. Oikonomopouloub, C.L. Justino de Limaa, F.A. Veerb, R. Nijssea,b

a TU Delft, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, the Netherlands,
b TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, the Netherlands

Although in theory glass can be endlessly re-melted without loss in quality, in practice only a small percentage gets recycled, mainly by the packaging industry. Most of the discarded glass fails to pass the high quality standards of the prevailing glass industry due to coatings, adhesives, other contaminants or incompatibility of the recipe and ends up in landfill. However, using discarded glass in cast components for building applications can be a good way to reintroduce this waste to the supply chain. Such components can tolerate a higher percentage of inclusions, without necessarily compromising their mechanical or aesthetical properties. This paper explores the potential but also the limitations of recycling glass in order to obtain load-bearing components. First, an overview is provided regarding which types of glass reach the recycling plants and which not, arguing on the reasons behind this selection. Afterwards, a series of experiments is presented, exploring the possibilities of recycling everyday glass waste, from beer bottles and Pyrex trays to mobile phone screens. Each type of glass waste is cast at different temperatures and firing/cooling rates to define its flow capability and risk of crystallization. The above information is linked to the X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyses of the samples prior to recycling. The results point out the types of glass with potential in structural applications, and the overall feasibility of the concept. This paper is an extension of previously reported work by Bristogianni et al. 2018.

Key words: Glass waste, glass recycling, cast glass components, kiln-casting, crystallization