Lighter Concrete: An In-Depth Analysis of the Effects of Recycled Plastic Aggregate in Composite Concrete
The scope of this project is a combination of material science engineering and mechanical engineering. Overall, the main goal of this project is to develop a lightweight concrete that maintains its original strength profile. Initial research has shown that a plastic-concrete composite could create a more lightweight concrete than that made using the typical gravel aggregate for concrete, while still maintaining the physical strength that concrete is known for. This will be accomplished by varying the amount of plastic in the aggregate. If successful, this project would allow concrete to be used in applications it would typically not be suitable for.<br/>After testing the strength of the concrete specimens with varying fills of plastic aggregate it was determined that the control group experienced an average peak stress of 2089 psi, the 16.67% plastic group experienced an average peak stress of 2649 psi, the 33.3% plastic group experienced an average peak stress of 1852 psi, and the 50% plastic group experienced an average stress of 924.5 psi. The average time to reach the peak stress was found to be 12 minutes and 24 seconds in the control group, 15 minutes and 34 seconds in the 16.7% plastic group, 9 minutes and 45 seconds in the 33.3% plastic group, and 10 minutes and 58 seconds in the 50% plastic group. Taking the average of the normalized weights of the cylindrical samples it was determined that the control group weighed 14.773 oz/in, the 16.7% plastic group weighed 15 oz/in, the 33.3% plastic group weighed 14.573 oz/in, and the 50% plastic group weighed 12.959 oz/in. Based on these results it can be concluded that a small addition of plastic aggregate can be beneficial in creating a lighter, stronger concrete. The results show that a 16.7% fill ratio of plastic to rock aggregate can increase the failure time and the peak strength of a composite concrete. Overall, the experiment was successful in analyzing the effects of recycled plastic aggregate in composite concrete. <br/>Some possible future studies related to this subject material are adding aluminum to the concrete, having better molds, looking for the right consistency in each mixture, mixing for each mold individually, and performing other tests on the samples.