Polymer blocks pave the way for more sustainable building - ScienceDaily

Polymer blocks pave the way for more sustainable building – ScienceDaily

Burning bricks, making mortar and cement is very expensive, but the organic chemists at Flinders University are working on more sustainable alternatives — focusing on building materials made from waste.

In another step toward a circular economy, researchers from Flinders Chalker Lab have used low-cost raw materials to make lightweight but durable polymer building blocks that can be bonded with an adhesive-free chemical reaction.

Their latest study tested the strength of these materials and discovered ways they could be strengthened in construction.

Chemistry professor Matthew Flinders, Justin Chalker, says the need to develop sustainable building materials is becoming increasingly important, with cement, iron and steel production accounting for more than 15% of global carbon dioxide.2 emissions each year.

“In this study, we tested a new type of brick that we can make from waste cooking oil, mixed with sulfur and dicyclopentadiene (DCPD). Both sulfur and DCPD are by-products of petroleum refining.

“Bricks bond together without mortar when a tiny amount of an amine catalyst is used.

“All starting materials are abundant and can be classified as industrial waste.

“This research is part of a larger effort to move towards a sustainable built environment,” says project leader Professor Chalker.

The Chalker Lab’s new polymer research team in the Flinders University School of Science and Engineering is collaborating with Clean Earth Technologies for further development. Expansion of range and marketability.

The latest study was published as a cover feature in a special issue on sustainability in the journal Molecular Chemistry and Physicsexpanded the research to test the mechanical properties of new bricks and look at ways to strengthen them in masonry, including using carbon-fiber fillings.

In addition to repurposing waste materials into value-added building materials, the sulfur-sulfur bond in polymer bricks means they can be bonded together without mortar like traditional building methods, says Dr. Maximilian Mann, research assistant at Chalker Lab.

“The bonding in this new catalytic process is very strong, producing a sustainable building material with its own slurry that potentially simplifies the construction process,” says Dr. Mann.

First author Paris Pauling says the research is an excellent example of new scientific advances in the science of sustainable materials.

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