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Stone slurry gives flexibility to a polymer matrix composite, researchers from University of British Columbia discovered

Also what seems to be stone waste can be used for many purposes, scientists discover.

Adding the stone waste not only increased the material’s strength, but but also its conductivity

Using polymers and natural stone slurry waste, researchers at UBC Okanagan are manufacturing new stone composites.

These new composites are made of previously discarded materials left behind during the cutting of natural structural or ornamental stone blocks for buildings, construction supplies or monuments. Adding the stone slurry to polymers is a new and innovative idea, explains School of Engineering Professor Abbas Milani, director of University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Materials and Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) at Okanagan Campus.

Milani and his colleagues recently received UBC eminence funding to establish a cluster of research excellence in biocomposites. The cluster will develop novel agricultural and forestry-based bio and recycled composites to minimize the impact of conventional plastics and waste on the environment.

The powdered stone waste used in the project provides flexibility to the new particulate polymer matrix composite. It can be mixed at different ratios into the finished product through appropriate heat or pressure to meet structural requirements or aesthetic choices, defined by industry and customers. „The green stone composite can easily be integrated into a variety of applications,” says UBC Research Associate Davoud Karimi. „These composites can be used in decorations and sanitation products ranging from aerospace to automotive applications.”

The researchers varied the amount of stone added to the composites then tested several parameters to determine strength, durability and density along with thermal conductivity.

By adding the stone waste to the composites, researchers determined that it not only increased the virgin polymer’s strength and durability, but the composites’ conductivity increased proportionally based on the amount of stone added.

„The increased strength is important, but the increased conductivity (up to 500%) opens a huge door to several new potential applications, including 3D printing with recycled composites,” explains Milani.

„We hope that these sorts of products, that are carefully designed with the aid of multi-disciplinary researchers focused on 3R measures (repairable, reusable, and recyclable), can significantly contribute to the economy of our region and Canada as a whole,” Milani adds.

The research was recently published in two journals Composite Structures and Composites Part B: Engineering.

Source: University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus

(08.10.2019, USA: 10.08.2019)