A RESEARCH team has developed Singapore's first eco-friendly way of recycling waste glass into building materials that are expected to be more than two times stronger than concrete.
Waste glass is crushed into powder and then mixed with a liquid chemical created by the team.
The mixture is poured into a mould to form floor and wall tiles, feature walls and insulation material.
It is heated up at below 100 deg C for about six hours, in a process called "curing". This causes the chemical to bind the glass particles together to form a more durable material, which looks like concrete and has the texture of marble.
The team from Ngee Ann Polytechnic - Dr Sun Xiaolong, a full-time engineer at the polytechnic's Environmental and Water Technology Centre of Innovation, and two students - took a year to develop this method, funded by the Tote Board to the tune of $70,000.
At the moment, glass can be recycled into new forms only by being melted at 1,600 deg C in overseas recycling plants.
"Such a method is not permitted in Singapore because it emits toxic gases," Dr Sun said.
The new method is more eco-friendly because it uses less energy than that needed to melt glass, and produces no toxic gases, he said.
A 30cm square tile made of such a material is expected to cost less than $5 - cheaper than a similar marble tile at $7, but slightly more expensive than common ceramic tiles at $3.
"One of our goals is to make the material as cheap as common ceramic, and as strong as marble. We will also work on increasing the range of products and reducing the time for curing," said Dr Sun.
The team is negotiating with nine organisations from the construction and waste industries to form a consortium in three to five months. It hopes to commercialise the material in two years.
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