Concrete Recycling Could Help Haiti Rebuild

Nancy Anderson
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Haiti is a country with a lot on its plate right now, still rebuilding after the most powerful earthquake they’ve had in over 200 years, hurricanes, flooding, and an outbreak of cholera in October. Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is strewn with the wreckage of its former buildings, and until the rubble can be removed, any new construction will need to be delayed. Researchers at Georgia Tech, however, believe they can’t help alleviate both the removal of debris and the rebuilding by recycling the destroyed concrete.

As published in the January/February 2011 issue of the American Ceramic Society bulletin, the Georgia Tech research team feels that construction workers could easily be trained to mix concrete in Port-au-Prince with locally sourced sand, and pulverized debris for coarse aggregate. As it turns out, concrete in Haiti is not typically mixed in large batches, and they don’t have cement mixers. Concrete is typically mixed by hand, and the proportions of of the ingredients are often just ‘eyeballed’ until the concrete looks right to whoever is doing the mixing. Samples of the rubble collected for analysis shows their compressive strength to be a paltry 1.3 ksi -- less than half of that required under U.S. code.

But what they also found is that pulverizing the debris, and using it as coarse aggregate, along with commonly found sands near Port-au-Prince, could create a concrete that meets or exceeds U.S. minimum compressive strength standards. The full details of the study are available at the American Ceramic Society link above.

Photo courtesy U.S. Navy.

Mike Wrightly is mostly diesel fumes and duct tape; he grew up around heavy equipment, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. Mike is a freelance writer for Nexxt.

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