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Articles from RECYCLING (233 Articles), SAMPLING & ANALYSIS (36 Articles), (OMIT 2018) CHEMICALS - CONCRETE & ASPHALT RELATED (13 Articles)

University scientists have recently created a road surface out of discarded cigarette butts. Image courtesy: Huffington Post Australia.
University scientists have recently created a road surface out of discarded cigarette butts. Image courtesy: Huffington Post Australia.

No butts about new construction applications

Construction workers may one day get to see their cigarette butts on display now that university researchers say they’ve found a way to create asphalt with discarded butts.

Dr Abbas Mohajerani, a senior lecturer in RMIT University’s School of Engineering and lead researcher on the project, was ‘keen’ to find a solution to the waste problem cigarette butts pose.

“I have been trying for many years to find sustainable and practical methods for solving the problem of cigarette butt pollution,” Mohajerani said.

“Cigarette filters are designed to trap hundreds of toxic chemicals, and the only ways to control these chemicals is either by effective encapsulation for the production of new lightweight aggregates or by incorporation in fired clay bricks.”

According to reports, Mohajerani and his team investigated the possibility of encapsulating cigarette butts with different classes of bitumen and paraffin wax and incorporating them into asphalt concrete for pavement construction, to lock in the chemicals and prevent any leaching from the concrete.

Mohajerani also explained the science behind recycling cigarette butts inside bricks, noting that if 2.5 per cent of the world’s annual brick production contained one per cent of cigarette butts it would offset the world’s cigarette production ‘entirely’.

“Incorporating butts into bricks can effectively solve a global litter problem, as recycled cigarette butts can be placed in bricks without any fear of leaching or contamination,” Mohajerani explained, adding, “They are also cheaper to produce in terms of energy requirements, and as more butts are incorporated, the energy cost decreases further.”

Most cigarette butts are discarded into the environment, where they take many years to break down while their toxic chemical load is released into creeks, rivers and the ocean.

Not only does the road surface creation reportedly have the potential to solve a huge waste problem, it could also be useful in reducing the urban heat island effect common in Australia’s cities.

An urban heat island is an urban or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. The temperature difference usually is more noticeable at night than during the day, and most perceptible during the summer and winter.

Recent figures indicate approximately six trillion cigarettes are produced every year, leading to more than 1.2 million tonnes of cigarette butt waste.

These figures are expected to increase by more than 50 per cent within the next eight years due to an increase in the world’s population.

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Sunday, 21 October, 2018 04:22am
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