Biomineralization of Plastic Waste to Improve the Strength of Plastic-Reinforced Cement Mortar


The development of methods to reuse large volumes of plastic waste is essential to curb the environmental impact of plastic pollution. Plastic-reinforced cementitious materials (PRCs), such as plastic-reinforced mortar (PRM), may be potential avenues to productively use large quantities of low-value plastic waste. However, poor bonding between the plastic and cement matrix reduces the strength of PRCs, limiting its viable applications. In this study, calcium carbonate biomineralization techniques were applied to coat plastic waste and improved the compressive strength of PRM. Two biomineralization treatments were examined: enzymatically induced calcium carbonate precipitation (EICP) and microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP). MICP treatment of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resulted in PRMs with compressive strengths similar to that of plastic-free mortar and higher than the compressive strengths of PRMs with untreated or EICP-treated PET. Based on the results of this study, MICP was used to treat hard-to-recycle types 3–7 plastic waste. No plastics investigated in this study inhibited the MICP process. PRM samples with 5% MICP-treated polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and mixed type 3–7 plastic had compressive strengths similar to plastic-free mortar. These results indicate that MICP treatment can improve PRM strength and that MICP-treated PRM shows promise as a method to reuse plastic waste.




Kane, Seth, Abby Thane, Michael Espinal, Kendra Lunday, Hakan Armağan, Adrienne Phillips, Chelsea Heveran, and Cecily Ryan. “Biomineralization of Plastic Waste to Improve the Strength of Plastic-Reinforced Cement Mortar.” Materials 14, no. 8 (April 13, 2021): 1949. doi:10.3390/ma14081949.
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