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Emesh drops carbon emissions by 90%

In an Australian-first, a James Cook University (JCU) study has revealed recycled fibres used to reinforce concrete reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel usage by 90% when compared to traditional steel mesh reinforcing.

JCU’s College of Science Technology and Engineering Senior lecturer Dr Rabin Tuladhar, who supervised the research, says using recycled plastic for the fibres also has obvious environmental advantages over using virgin plastic fibres.

He has long specialised in finding ways to make concrete production more environmentally sustainable.

“Concrete is the second most-used material on earth, second only to water, with more than 25 million cubic meters poured annually in Australia,” Dr Tuladhar says.

According to JCU over 220,000 tonnes of polypropylene was used in Australia in 2013 but only 21% of it was recycled.

The research team put the 100% recycled plastic fibre concrete, which Fibercon has called Emesh, through rigorous technical performance testing with excellent results.

The product is strong and durable and suited to pavements, footpaths and some precast products.

Best of all, the research project timeline coincided perfectly with JCU’s $80 million Science Place development, comprising a new teaching building and landscaped precinct. Every supplier and material used for Science Place had to meet strict standards for performance, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.