Cement-like creation could help the environment

April 20, 2010
Cement-like creation could help the environment
Civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Naji Khoury, left, supervises the installation of six slabs of porous Plastisoil in a walkway outside the College of Engineering. Assisting are two undergraduate engineering students and a contractor, right.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Naji Khoury has created a permeable cement-like material that offers a host of environmental advantages over traditional paving.

A Temple University researcher has developed a cement-like substance that could help with stormwater management while potentially keeping millions of out of landfills.

Naji Khoury, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Temple, uses a mixture of recyclable plastic bottles and soil to create “Plastisoil,” a trademarked product he describes as an impervious cementing agent. When mixed with course aggregate and heated, it produces what Khoury calls “porous Plastisoil,” which functions like pervious concrete and porous asphalt.

Khoury said that Plastisoil could help alleviate created by stormwater run-off because stormwater can filter through it into the ground below. The material could be used to form sidewalks, bike/jogging paths, driveways and parking lots.

“We are currently testing the porous Plastisoil to see if could also remove or reduce pollutants like motor oil from the water as it filters through,” he said.

The product has an additional environmental benefit. Since it is made with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, it will help reduce the 200 billion plastic bottles that are sent to landfills each year. Khoury said that it takes 30,000 of the no. 1 recyclable bottles to make one ton of porous Plastisoil. He hopes to be able to use different types of recyclable plastic bottles in the future.

In addition, Khoury said that an energy analysis shows that it uses less energy to produce one ton of Plastisoil than one ton of or asphalt. He added that preliminary results also show porous Plastisoil to be cheaper to manufacture than existing technologies and products.

Khoury first developed Plastisoil with co-inventors while at the University of Oklahoma, but he created the material after moving to Temple in 2008. He is currently doing life-cycle assessment on the product, and a slab of porous Plastisoil has been laid in a walkway outside Temple’s College of Engineering Building.

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3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2010
"The product has an additional environmental benefit. Since it is made with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, it will help reduce the 200 billion plastic bottles that are sent to landfills each year."

All well and good, but what about the massive phthalate contamination that is sure to result?

What are these clowns thinking?
not rated yet Apr 23, 2010
This activity is worth encouraging, subject to leach tests, durability, etc. My main question is whether there would be enough bottles in the waste stream to make this the standard paving material across the US, let alone the world?
1 / 5 (1) Apr 23, 2010
I believe that there would be a sufficiency of plastic available as of today, to fuel this process for some time to come, especially if the ocean gyres were harvested, in addition to landfills and the general environment.

Ideally, production of plastic food/beverage containers would be stopped altogether. They are unhealthy, resource intensive, and almost invariably end up as environmental pollutants.

A drive down the road, a walk along the beach, or a vacation in the third world will make this fact abundantly clear to even the most skeptical.
not rated yet Apr 27, 2010
Caliban, do you have any figures for how many tons of bottles are needed to produce x amount of this? Thanks.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2010
It says in the article it takes 30,000 of the #1 recyclable bottles(20oz, I believe) to make one ton of plastisoil.

Numbers I've seen: 105 million tons of bottles manufactured annually as of 2009, 200 billion bottles manufactured worldwide annually...you get the picture.
not rated yet Apr 30, 2010
Caliban, Thanks for #s. A recent stat shows that worldwide cement production is about 2.5 billion tons. Supposing one were able to actually recover half of the 200 billion bottles, this would still mean only 3.3 million tons of plastisoil (only about .132% of cement production). I still think plastisoil is a good idea, just will not replace what we currently use.

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