PhD Scholar and Vice-Chancellor’s Indigenous Pre-Doctoral Research Fellow Shannon Kilmartin-Lynch from RMIT University has developed a stronger form of concrete using PPE waste, including face masks and rubber gloves. He hopes that the creation of the stronger form of concrete will help to tackle the ever-growing problem of PPE waste entering the environment.
Shannon’s passion for sustainability, alongside completing his Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure) at RMIT University helped him get to where he is today. He now has the opportunity to produce new and exciting sustainable developments.
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The idea first started when the team of engineers and researchers from RMIT University, including Shannon, saw the amount of PPE waste that was being generated and was ending up on the streets. After seeing the high-levels of waste, the team wanted to sit down and find a solution to the problem using civil engineering applications.
“I’m passionate about concrete – I think about it most of the time. I’m also passionate about sustainability and how we can care for Country, making sure that waste is being put to other uses instead of going to landfill,” said Shannon Kilmartin-Lynch, one of the driving forces behind the inspiring concrete innovation.
After conducting their own research, the scientists and researchers found that incorporating the right amount of shredded PPE into concrete could help to improve both its strength and durability. This led to the creation of the new concrete innovation that would make the material stronger.
As part of their research, they conducted a total of three studies to test how each PPE item would effect the strength of the concrete. They began by shredding rubber gloves, disposable face masks and isolation gowns and adding them to the concrete in volumes between 0.1% and 0.25%.
Amazingly, the team unveiled some exciting results. Their research found that face masks increased compressive strength by up to 17% and rubber gloves by up to 22%. Isolation gowns also helped to improve elasticity by 12% and bending stress by up to 21%, as well as increasing the overall compressive strength of the concrete.
Now the team is armed with a set of impressive results; they are looking to move forward and collaborate with both healthcare and construction industries to work towards practical implementation strategies and develop their research further.