Researchers out of Spain, London, and Brazil have concocted a surprising new construction material that has those of us in the cement delivery industry scratching our heads: Cement made out of busted toilets.
The new material is made not just from toilets, but any kind of discarded ceramic waste, including old sink basins, stoneware, and bricks. The process includes grinding up the discarded ceramics and then mixing them with an activator solution and water. This mixture is poured into a mold and exposed to extreme heat to harden.
The activator solution currently uses sodium hydroxide or sodium silicate; however the research team is also experimenting with rice husk ash. If the rice husk ash is successful, the cement could be made entirely from recycled materials.
Currently, the most widely used form of cement is Portland cement. Environmentalists cite the release of carbon dioxide from the production process of Portland cement as a major contributor to global warming. If the new mixture proves high quality, it could serve as an eco-friendly alternative.
A successful innovation could counter the environmental impact of cement production. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is expected in the new production process; and by recycling waste materials, less is sent to landfills. It could also open up new industry and revenue potential for those who provide the materials.
Current research results appear promising. Tests conducted with red clay brick waste produced strong cement–possibly even stronger than current conventional forms of cement. Research on other forms of ceramic waste is ongoing to determine if they are also usable.
The new mixture is not yet available as more research is needed. The timeline is unclear when research may conclude and the alternative forms may be available for widespread use. But the possibilities are exciting. What will our fleet carry five years from now?