Research could save our sand

Thursday, 12 September, 2019

Research could save our sand

University of Queensland PhD candidate Danish Kazmi has developed a sustainable solution to help preserve sand — a natural resource that is facing global shortages due to over exploitation.

Kazmi is exploring the use of crushed waste glass as an alternative to sand for ground improvement during construction, potentially providing a sustainable and cost-effective solution.

It is estimated that nearly one million tonnes of waste glass is stockpiled annually in Australia, and its disposal has become an environmental challenge due to its limited end uses and non-biodegradable nature.

“Both sand and waste glass have a similar chemical composition, so we expect them to behave similarly when optimally used in geotechnical construction,” Kazmi said.

“My research looks at the performance of waste glass within ground columns as an environmentally friendly alternative to sand columns that are commonly used at the moment. These waste glass columns are designed to strengthen the earth below a building and improve its load-bearing characteristics.”

Kazmi has found that using waste glass in ground columns not only preserves sand resources and promotes closed-loop recycling, but could reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry by cutting down on the amount of sand that needs to be quarried.

“I have always been passionate about helping to create circular economies,” he said.

Kazmi was one of 30 PhD students selected for the prestigious UQ Global Change Scholars program in 2018. His work focuses on building an eco-friendly future through sustainable construction practices with technical benefits, guided by PhD supervisors Professor David Williams and Dr Mehdi Serati.

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